Wilderness Solitude as a Rite of Passage
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Wilderness solitude has been used as a rite of passage for adolescents to adulthood in cultures and societies around the world, but it had never been studied as a rite of passage into emerging adulthood, a new period of development that has arisen between these two traditional periods (Arnett, 2004). I interviewed emerging adult participants of a wilderness college pre-orientation program that included a wilderness solitude, or solo, portion about their experiences on solo. The general reasoning behind the solo is to put participants into wilderness solitude to overcome challenges regarding the deprivation of Maslow’s (1968) needs (e.g., hunger, social relationships, etc.). During this time, these participants have the opportunity to be empowered through their individual achievements over these challenges to think more independently and take more responsibility for the course of their lives going into emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2004). The solo is also an initial opportunity for self-growth and exploration of identity as these individuals ritually enter emerging adult.