Installing Community Rites of Passage – ROPE®


The Rite of Passage Experience© ROPE® has always been a process for youth and community development. Community organizing strategies work in concert with rites of passage design principles to promote community collaboration that leads to committed sustained actions.

There are two primary ways to install ROPE®:

  • Where communities, schools or organizations are already engaged in some form of rites of passage they use the design principles to inform and guide conversations that enhance their strategies. The 20 elements appear to include many, if not all, of the design principles that are important to consider in a contemporary, community-based rite of passage. The purpose of the conversations is to see if their strategies align with the elements. They assess: What is working well? What might they wish to enhance or may need to be included? The 20 elements provide helpful markers to enhance their rite of passage experience.
  • The second installation method is to use the 20 design principles in association with the “Rite Of Passage Experience, ROPE® - Guide for Promoting Youth & Community Maturation & Health©.” This guide provides extensive materials for setting the first stage of the 3 stages – in a 6-year youth and community development process. It includes the Initiation of Scholars© along with the Initiation into Play© components. The first stage begins for youth and their parents during the transition from primary to secondary school and the onset of puberty.

A series of “Encounters” occurs between individuals within a place – community, school or organization – that support the installation of ROPE®. The encounters are:

  • > Individuals seek information about Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage and/or the Rite of Passage Experience© ROPE®

    1. The Center is contacted – a community representative speaks with a Center associate.
    2. The Center directs the individual to information on the web site to begin the “co-learning” about rites of passage process.
    3. Phone, Skype and/or e-mail communications between The Center and community representative(s) typically refine the request and begin the process of adapting community-oriented rites of passage like ROPE® for a particular place.
    4. The Center continues to share information on youth & community development through rites of passage with community representatives.
    5. Communications continue with small groups of community representatives, to facilitate community networking and discuss community approaches using rites of passage as a framework for organizing a community’s education and youth development programs. This group frequently includes a community leader with vision and understanding of the importance of rites of passage to youth and community development.
    6. Community representatives may request an on-site consultation with a Center associate for further discussion and planning. This would include more in depth conversations and question and answer sessions.
  • > Community Orientation to Rites of Passage

    1. A Center associate meets with a large group of community representatives to present the history of rites of passage, the consequences of its absence for today’s youth, and its contemporary application in promoting positive youth development, preventing youth problems, and building a community’s capacity to collaborate within a context that integrates existing community assets, resources and programs.
    2. This presentation also includes an exploration into the relationship between rites of passage and a sense of community and examines the practical aspects of implementing an adaption of the common philosophy, “It takes a whole child to raise a village.”

    3. Exploration begins to see reveal how a rite of passage framework put into practice can support all other contemporary youth development approaches, including developmental assets, resiliency, character education, social-emotional learning while impacting school climate, reducing bullying behavior among students and increasing academic performance.

    4. The Center associate outlines a community process for creating, implementing and sustaining a community-oriented rite of passage initiative. They begin to examine the 20 elements as design principles and how they can be adapted within their place.

  • > Creation & Development of a Community-Wide Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage Steering Committee (20-40 adults & youth)

        1. Ongoing process to further understand the key elements of the community-oriented rites of passage, like the Rite of Passage Experience© initiative, driven by community representatives with guidance by a Center associate. A Core Group comprised of a diverse group of youth and adults is beginning to be identified. They will become the first group to become “Initiated” within their community’s rite of passage experience.
        2. Begin identifying community assets to support implementation of the rite of passage initiative. Identify how rites of passage fit and enhance all other academic and youth development programs.
        3. Community representatives recruit a select Core Group of 12-16 people for a 40-hour community-oriented and/or ROPE® Co-Learning experience. Their responsibility will be to learn, adapt and provide Stage 1 of their adaptation of ROPE®, that is featured in The Guide. They are the first “Initiatory Cohort,” the first group of Elders who’ve been through their community’s rite of passage and can bring others as far as they have been themselves. They are able recruit more and more citizens into the process and to coordinate the activities for Stage 2 and Stage 3 of their rite of passage experience.
        4. This Core Group or rite of passage/ROPE® Steering Committee is made up of both adults and youth representing a diversity of the community. It may include schoolteachers, guidance counselors, school administrators; youth service workers, civic leaders, police, clergy, parents/guardians, youth leaders, students, etc.
        5. The Steering Committee begins organizing the community resources to support the implementation of their rite of passage experience/ROPE® initiative. It includes design, communication, actions, assessment for continuous improvement and adaption, identifying rite of passage guides and mentors, etc.
        6. The Steering Committee holds a meeting (often an informal, pot-luck dinner) during which a Center associate facilitates a series of activities exposing the group to the kind of experiences they will learn to provide to their children. The activities are also designed to build community one relationship at a time.

    * The “Steering Committee” is a larger group responsible for overall design, community organizing, resource allocation and administration. The “Core Group” is a subgroup of the Steering Committee. They are responsible for actual implementation of the rite of passage experience and central to its adaptation and continuous improvement.

  • > Developing & Customizing Stage 1 of the Rite of Passage or ROPE® Initiative (40 Hour Co-learning Experience)

    1. The Rite of Passage or ROPE® Core Group - Steering Committee commits to a 40-hour ROPE® initiation experience designed to build their capacity to adapt and provide Stage 1 of the rite of passage/ROPE® initiative to students. The first part of this training focuses on understanding the importance of “play” and its relationship to social competency, and on building a context for after-school programs and community service.2. The ROPE® Core Group - Steering Committee continues to identify community resources helpful to the process.
    2. The Core Group along with the larger Steering Committee creates and finalizes the Teams accountable for key aspects of the rite of passage/ROPE® initiative. Examples: Communications (informing and inspiring the larger community to participate), Design, Implementation, etc.
    3. The Steering Committee selects the first group of students who will begin Phase I of their rite of passage/ROPE® initiative.
  • > Community ceremony to affirm the installation of their Rite of Passage (ROPE®) and celebrate the first “Initiatory Cohort

    1. The Core Group, now the “First Initiatory Cohort” publically dedicates themselves to adapting and supporting the evolution of their community’s rite of passage experience. This public ceremony – their rite of passage – is convened and hosted by community leaders, such as, the head of the school system as well as appointed and elected community officials, who are likely members of the Steering Committee. It’s about the whole village coming together to raise their children. And, where all children are seen as “our children.” It’s the articulation and demonstration of a community paradigm shift, where community building happens one relationship at a time.
    2. A community performance – ceremony - presents the first group to go through their rite of passage experience - ROPE®. They describe their experience, the importance of rites of passage, how it will continue to evolve in the community and recruit others to join in this essential community process.
  • > Adaptation - Implementing & Sustaining Stage I of the Rite of Passage - ROPE® Initiative & Developing Phase 2 and Phase 3 (Steering Committee & Teams)

    1. Stage 1 of the rite of passage/ROPE® initiative is implemented for the initial group of students.

    1. Ongoing ROPE® Steering Committee, Core Group and Team meetings to sustain and grow the initiative Ongoing conversations, experiences and technical assistance to support and integrate the initiative.
    2. Ongoing administrative support and engagement – community leaders with vision and access to resources engage in the process of adaptation and implementation.
    3. Ongoing development of community resources.
    4. Ongoing commitment and actions to build community capacity to implement and sustain Stage 2 and 3 of the rite of passage/ROPE® initiative.
    5. Process for ongoing assessment for continuous improvement and adaptation of their rite of passage to meet the changing needs of their youth and community.

The Rite Way

We use the terms “install” and “installation” to define the implementation process of the ROPE® initiative. This is intentional and aligns this process with the creation and placement of a work of art in a community. We believe that engaging in a ROPE® initiative is as much about art as it is science, perhaps more so.