Fire Tenders

Ages 12-16

Dates TBA

What is Fire Tenders?

Fire Tenders is a communally-held nature-based program where girls and other marginalized genders can learn nature skills! This program helps youth preserve and develop their sense of personal power, connection to community and each other, responsible decision-making, courage, and leadership capacity as they enter and work through the challenges of their teen years. Our aim is to support youth in their personal, social, and skills-development goals while fortifying the community’s esteem and trust in its youth.

The youth of Fire Tenders achieve these outcomes by taking on nature-based challenges, forging frendships, practicing survival skills, and asking meaningful questions. Check out the Youth trail below for details on the challenges and opportunities presented.


Who is Fire Tenders for?

Fire Tenders is a place for girls (both cis and trans) and other marginalized genders including trans boys and non-binary youth. This also includes youth who are Two-Spirit, intersex, or gender non-conforming. Parents and Elders can participate regardless of their gender or sex.

Fire Tenders includes 3 Trails, one for the youth, one for parents, and one for Elders, who are special advisors chosen by the youth. The bulk of the program time will be for the youth, but parents and Elders will also get some nature connection and ceremony too! See below for more details.



Fire Tenders meets over the course of 4 months. The Youth will meet one Friday evening per month for craft time around a council fire and one Saturday per month for wilderness-skill-building for three months. The fouth month will be time for our Wilderness Overnight, from Friday evening into Saturday morning.


Details on each of the 3 Trails below:



The Youth trail is a transformative journey that includes wilderness skills, nature connection skills, and group process skills.

Wilderness Skills include:

  • Survival Shelters, including site selection, knots and tarp rigging, and primitive shelter
  • Firemaking, including fire safety, making fire with just one match and/or fire by friction, finding wood and tinder, and tending fire well
  • Nature Awareness to avoid hazards and find resources

Nature Connection Skills include:

  • Nature as a mirror for learning about ourselves
  • Nature-based tools for focus, calm and courage
  • Using the right attitude as a survival skill in the presence of powerful natural forces

Group Process Skills include:

  • Teamwork and consensus-building
  • Leadership Skills
  • Empathy for self and empathy for others


The Parents trail requires less time than the Youth, but still requires a commitment. Parents will be asked to reflect on transformation of their parental role from protector to coach as their youth grows into a young adult. Ravenwood staff will host one Friday evening campfire for the Parents separate from the Youth, and Parents are strongly encouraged to attend.
“This program was almost more useful for me than them, so I could see where the girls are at and acknowledge their accomplishments and independence.” — participating parent
Parents also must attend the final Saturday morning after the overnight, to receive the yough after their wilderness experience.


Youth are asked to select one Elder who they can call on for support and reflection throughout the program. That Elder may be a friend of the family, grandparent, sibling of a parent, or another person older than the Youth who the Youth and Parents know and trust. The task of the Elder is simple, just connect with the Youth after each field session and ask them what happened, and follow your curiosity. Elders will have access to a mentoring/coaching phone call with Ravenwood staff, and will be provided with some ideas on what questions to ask and how to support your Youth.

“Youth and Elder meet where the pressure of the future meets the presence of the past. Old and young are opposites that secretly identify with each other; for neither fits well into the mainstream of life.” — Michael Meade

Elders will also be expected to attend a 1-hour campfire send-off on the fourth Friday night of the program to help send the Youth off to their Wilderness Overnight, and will be asked to come back to the same site that Saturday morning with the Parents to receive the Youth back from the wilderness.

Youth may select an Elder who their family knows well, or an Elder from Ravenwood’s Elder Initiative. To volunteer as an Elder, please take a look at our Volunteer page.