Earth Ways Youth Mentoring Program:
Nature Connection, Skills, and the Arts of Life
a journey for boys/ young men ages 14 - 18


         This two-week connection adventure in the vast Gila area of New Mexico will focus on learning and practicing ancestral skills, developing good habits of tracking the world around us as well as within, listening and speaking in a circle, giving thanks, respectful exchange with the natural world, enjoying group drumming, music and stories, and working with nature-based physical movement arts.  In this important passage time for young people, the goal of this program is to foster a re-awakening of their ancient connection with fire, with themselves on a deeper level, with nature, and with their communities.  These nature-based, musical, and athletic experiences led by a committed and experienced mentor will help to develop strong foundations for young people to move through the challenges of their lives in connected and confident ways.  


Dates:  June 18th - July 2nd, 2023
  • Knife safety and sharpening 
  • Capoeira movement/ martial arts
  • Fire by friction (make and learn to use a fire kit)
  • Council
  • Thanksgiving: an ancient address to the land
  • Spoon carving: make your own eating utensil with room for many other projects
  • Respectful gathering and offerings
  • Group drumming 
  • Fun awareness games (sneaking, stalking, peripheral vision, evasion, woodsrunning, etc)
  • Sit spot
  • Story of the day
  • Arrowmaking
  • Archery instruction and practice
  • Containers: cane/ agave/ yucca
  • Natural cordage
  • 4 directions and creating sacred space
  • Shelter building and sleeping
  • Coal beds
  • Oil/fat lamps
  • Wild foods
  • Traps and snares
  • Atlatls and darts: making and throwing
  • Fire cooking
  • Tracking 

       ~ note:  All of these activities are tailored to meet the experience of the boys involved in the programs, from beginner to very competent.  There is room for beginning projects as well as advanced. This natural learning setting offers the opportunity for more experienced kids to be involved on both sides of the mentoring dance for some skills; teaching, helping, and thus furthering competence and connection.  

       Cost for the program is $2,200.  This includes pickup at Tucson International Airport, food, camping, and all program-related materials.  Payment can be made via check, credit card, or paypal, with a payment option at $375/month for 6 months.  We also have one scholarship available for a family with financial need.  A 10% discount will apply for families with a second child enrolled.

       Program is led by youth mentor, musician, social worker, and family-man Andrew Dahl-Bredine.  Andrew has led youth and teen nature connection mentoring programs in New Mexico and across the Southwest for the past 12 years.  He participated in the Teaching Drum Outdoor School’s year-long wilderness immersion program, and has trained and apprenticed under well-known primitive skills instructors John Stokes, Tamarack Song, and Doug Simons.  His passion for village-based communal music has seen him lead and facilitate group drumming events and classes in many community and therapeutic settings over the past 13 years, using his outstanding skill and knowledge of West African village drumming traditions and training as a Licensed Master of Social Work and group leader.  He has also trained in the afro-Brazilian musical martial art of capoeira, and has taught classes for youth, teens, and adults in this tradition for the past 17 years.  Andrew is also a prolific songwriter, sharing his heart-based original music across the country, mostly in intimate house concert settings.  His broad range of skills, cultural experience, and enthusiasm for nature, music, and physical activity gives him a special ability to connect with young people of many different interests.  He lives with his wife Lexa, daughter Grace, son River, and daughter Tule in Gila, New Mexico, where he runs weekly youth nature programs and leads therapeutic drumming groups and other community-based activities.