Coming Of Age The RITE Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage


Coming of Age the RITE Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage addresses the absence of community-oriented rites of passage. This book is distinguished from others in that it combines almost fifty years of scholarship and practice to examine the concepts of rites of passage and sense of community, as it exists in literature and life. It focuses on the reciprocal relationship between rites of passage and sense of community and ways for it to impact the development of children and the health and adaptability of their community.

This text raises and answers some of the most fundamental questions facing parents, schools and communities; How do we raise our children to be resilient, self-reliant, capable adults who are competent and with compassion that is manifested in civic engagement for social justice? The book sets forth guiding principles and clear methods for putting into practice a whole systems approach to youth development through rites of passage. The approach involves connecting and enhancing environments and building competencies, which promote the positive development of children and youth in their families, in their schools, among their peers in their community and with a strong connection to the natural world. It provides extensive narratives and case studies to illustrate how a framework of rites of passage is used to weave a common language throughout the community and links techniques for youth development with prevention, identification, intervention, and treatment and strengthens the fabric of community support.

Advance Praise for Coming of Age the Rite Way:

“’How are the children?’ the Masai ask in their daily greetings, knowing that the integrity and promise of community is not realized unless youth and their aspiration for an authentic life are embraced by the adult world. In this important and compelling book, David Blumenkrantz skillfully illuminates our current state of fragmented community, where adolescents are a tribe apart. He then brilliantly and gracefully shows us a way home to a very old idea and  practice of the human village, where children and adults belong to one another, and where the question can be rightfully answered that the children are well.”

- Len Fleischer, EdD, Professor of Education, Keene State College; Licensed  Clinical Psychologist

“This groundbreaking book provides profound and practical community  strategies for promoting the positive development of youth. It is a must read for educators, human service providers, and policy makers who aspire to improve community institutions that successfully raise knowledgeable, responsible, caring, contributing youth on their way to happier, more fulfilling lives.”

- Roger P. Weissberg, PhD, University/LAS Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chief Knowledge Officer, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

“David Blumenkrantz’s life’s work expressed in this seminal book gives us the  philosophy, the foundation and the tools we need to support our children and young people at a time when they are experiencing so much neglect. We should have inherited this road map from our ancestors, but I am so grateful that David has reinvented it and given it to us as a gift for ours and future generations.”

- Mark Weiss, PhD, Education Director, Operation Respect, former New York City
schools principal

“Coming of Age the Rite Way will prove to be a significant bridge between scholarship and practice for the fields of education, social work, and youth development. Dr. Blumenkrantz weaves exquisite initiatory tales based on his 50 years of experience in community organizing and youth development. The book sets forth tested navigational aids to guide communities in the creation of unique place-based rites of passage for their young people.”

- Bethe Hagens, PhD, Faculty, School of Public Policy and Administration, Walden

“Coming of Age the Rite Way is a thought provoking and a healing manual that addresses some of the fundamental ills of the world today: In presenting rite of passage and community development as inseparable, the book reveals the profound wisdom that highlights how focusing in our youth is focusing in our communities. This book comes at the right time as a gift to parents and communities everywhere concerned about the future of their youth and longing for tools to fertilize their imagination. This book is a generous contribution to modern consciousness challenged by the decay of human creativity and imagination.”

- Malidoma Patrice Somé, PhD, West African Elder, teacher, and author of Ritual: Power, Healing and Community and Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman

“David Blumenkrantz continues to show how much we all still have to learn about rites of passage. Rite of passage “specialists” struggle to connect a youth’s community with their children’s initiatory experience so they can affirm their transformation and acknowledge their emerging adulthood. Blumenkrantz solved this decades ago by developing a supportive community before attempting any rite of passage approaches. This should be required reading for
anyone interested in helping youth transition to adulthood and strengthening the village to raise their children, especially within the story of rites of passage.”

- Bret Stephenson, MA, author of From Boys to Men: Spiritual Rites of Passage in an Indulgent Age and owner, The Adolescent Mind—Archetypal Adolescent Services, Programs and Training

"David Blumenkrantz offers a compelling—sometimes provocative—vision of rites of passage as a powerful yet neglected responsibility, resource, and focus for community and youth development. He weaves together his practical experience working in communities with stories and insights from many divergent sources to offer an integrative vision of rites of passes that transmit values, ethics, skills, and commitments from generation to generation. In the process, he shows how intentional rites of passage transform adolescence from what too often has become a time of alienation and rolenessness into a meaningful journey into both individual thriving and community strength."

- Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, PhD, Vice President, Research and Development, Search Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Blumenkrantz is an activist. His community organizing through the Rite of Passage Experience© (ROPE®) process, put into action in the 70s has included over 200,000 American youngsters and their parents. Had Blumenkrantz been a Brit, he would without a doubt been ‘Sir David’ or even ‘Lord’ Blumenkrantz by now. I cited his work in 2008, which helped to influence rites of passage
in the UK. I wrote: One day it is hoped this fascinating and pioneering work will be readily available in bookshops all over the world.” That day is now. A must read for educators and youth workers alike who want a new story and practical steps to change the future for our children, ourselves and our planet.”

- Geoffrey Ben-Nathan, author of I’m Adult! Aren’t I?: The Case for a Formal Rite of Passage

“David Blumenkrantz has done it again. His previous book, Fulfilling the Promise of Children’s Services, provided readers with a wide-ranging exploration of the myriad factors that either make or break prevention efforts targeting children, families, and communities. In this new book, Dr. Blumenkrantz creates another comprehensive examination of human services work, this time focusing attention on concepts and activities related to rites of passage. This is a tour de force, a book that contains encyclopedic coverage of concepts and activities related to the various ways in which societies provide their youth with pathways toward adulthood.”

- Stephen M. Gavazzi, PhD, Dean, Ohio State University, Mansfield

“I’ve witnessed the transformation of many children into young adulthood via rites and rituals. In Coming of Age the Rite Way, we learn adolescent becoming, moral and otherwise, finds fuller expression in the reciprocal reconstitution and growth of communal elders responsible for receiving their youth beyond their passage. A master storyteller, Dr. Blumenkrantz weaves narrative and theory into a magnificent study and celebration of initiation and rites of passage.”

- Rabbi Craig Marantz, Congregation Kol Haverim, Chaplain Connecticut State

“In beautiful and often lyrical language, this book is a gift to all facing the challenge of preparing young people for the rewards of safe passage toward a fruitful life as adults. A welcome contrast to the often arcane and distancing language of social science that only other scholars might understand and embrace. All who believe in the rich potential of cherished youth will find gems
here to aid them in the serious task of preparing children for bravely facing their next serious step in the life cycle. This is a must read by anyone – especially parents, teachers, and counselors.”

- Lee Ann Hoff, PhD, author of People in Crisis: Interdisciplinary and Diversity
Perspectives, 7th. Edition, and related titles on crisis and violence issues

"’Is it about raising test scores or raising children?’ asks Blumenkrantz. Our coming of age stories focus on problems: school shootings, drugs and alcohol, and testing. Children hate these boring stories, and they just scare adults. You have to pay people to work with stories that bad. But, Coming of Age the Rite Way, is a story that grabs children. Through it they get to answer their favorite question, ‘How do we grow up?’ We know this story, we’ve just forgotten it. Weaving scholarship, practice and his deep experience of traditional wisdom,  Blumenkrantz spins nothing less than the origin story for tomorrow’s communities.”

- Richard Owen Geer, PhD, community practitioner, Founder Community Performance International, co-author of Story Bridge: From Alienation to Community Action.

“Coming of Age the Rite Way is a timely publication and its attractiveness is far-reaching. This book is strongly needed and is a welcomed addition to the literature. I applaud David Blumenkrantz for his keen attention to detail and creativity. Clearly a must-read for anyone who has the noble responsibility of providing guidance and direction to today’s youth. Blumenkrantz has done a masterful job in presenting stories as well as factual data that will help  synthesize our understanding of Rites of Passage and its curative value. I am pleased we now have a vivid and comprehensive body of work in one volume that will advance how to help youth move from one stage of life to the next.”

- Keith A. Alford, PhD, School of Social Work, Syracuse University

“To read this book is to experience an awakening. It provides tools and understanding to take action in changing this story—through restoring and innovating the rites of passage that our youth and communities so urgently need. Drawing upon research from diverse fields of study, as well as upon the author’s own life work, Coming of Age the Rite Way contributes vital new thinking to
youth and community development. It also inspires us to imagine new  possibilities in emergent design for co-creating the narratives and rites that are needed to change our trajectory and reorient our planet toward balance, responsibility, and well-being. A must-read for parents, teachers and
all those working for social change.”

- Joanna Cea & Jess Rimington, Visiting Scholars, Stanford University Global  Projects Center

“For three summers in the late 1960’s and early ‘70s during my early teenage years, David Blumenkrantz was my counselor at Camp Wamsutta in Charlton, Massachusetts. It is only in retrospect that I realize that through my experiences as a camper under his guidance and mentorship that I actually lived the Rite Of Passage Experience© ROPE® program he would later create to assist youth through the coming-of-age process. There are many who lament that there
are no ‘user’s guides’ or manuals for helping kids to navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence. Ah, but they have not read this book!”

- Kenneth F. Heideman, MS, Meteorologist, Director of Publications, American
Meteorological Society and Past President, Board of Directors, Council of Science

Coming Of Age The RITE Way: Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage

Coming of Age the RITE Way:
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of Age the RITE Way

 “Emergence” By: Nancy R. Wofford - Illustrations throughout the book.
“Emergence” By: Nancy R. Wofford – Illustrations throughout the book.

Reflections on The Next Best Story That May Never Happen

There is one word that characterizes community-oriented rites of passage. Reciprocity. It recognizes and responds to the ongoing debate between evolutionary biologists over their differing views on the single most important entity of our species. Is it the individual or the community?

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