[Transcript] – Educating The Next Generation With Ceremonies, Rites Of Passage, Nature Immersion, Wilderness Survival & More With Tim Corcoran & Jeannine Tidwell.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/corcorans/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:52] Podcast Sponsors

[00:04:46] Introduction to Tim and Jeannine

[00:08:58] Raising and educating River and Forrest

[00:25:32] Ceremonies and rites of passage

[00:29:56] Podcast Sponsors

[00:34:02] cont. Ceremonies and rites of passage

[00:46:22] Other traditions and habits

[01:03:35] Concerns about kid's future

[01:09:10] Closing the Podcast

[01:11:33] Shine Sedona

[01:14:13] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Jeannine:  We are living in a world now that is very different than 30, 40 years ago when I was young. They're entering a world we maybe can't even fully comprehend.

Tim:  We've put a lot of our chips on this nature connection piece, clearly. Is there a risk? Yeah, but gosh, I mean, what's the opposite? We raise them with technology from birth. Is there a risk there? Absolutely. And, would I be more worried if I had done that? Heck, yeah.

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Well, folks, one of my guests on today's show is someone I've had the pleasure of interviewing in the past on the podcast. I think, Tim, correct me if I'm wrong, but you've been on my show a couple of times now, right?

Tim:  That's right, twice before, Ben.

Ben:  Twice. I'm glad somebody's keeping track. So, Tim, if you had heard his previous episode, you already know has a last name Corcoran. And, Tim is a guy who I first met when he visited my home to walk me and my wife and sons through our new property in Spokane, Washington to teach us what we could eat without dying. That's, I think, the best way I can sum it up. He walked us around and basically gave us a tour of all the wild edible plants on our land, what we could do with them, and how we could implement them in our wild plant menu from organ grape to wild mint, and nettle, and all sorts of goodies all the way down to dandelion that grow on our property. And, he did such a great job teaching that I later got super interested in the fact that he puts on wilderness survival and nature immersion camps and clinics right here in Spokane in the surrounding area in North Idaho. My sons, I think, gosh, what were they, 6 or 7 when they first started working with you, Tim?

Tim:  Yeah, I think it was about 6 years old. Yeah.

Ben:  Yeah. And, Tim has been one of their key mentors through his Twin Eagles Wilderness School and also through some one-on-one work that he's done with my sons to bring them through a wilderness awareness course called Kamana. And, you may have also heard me talk about how sometimes River and Terran and I go off and do these father-son wilderness survival camps, which are epic and one of, I think, the most meaningful bonding experiences I've ever had with them. And, those are also through Tim's Twin Eagles Wilderness School where he facilitates deep nature connection, mentoring, and cultural restoration, and inner tracking, and even does things like wilderness vision quests for adolescents and for adults. And so, my own sons have been going through their rites of passage under the tutelage and guidance of Tim. So, it's been fantastic to get to know Tim over the past few years, but I've never had Tim's wife on.

I first met Tim's wife when she was making us just amazing luxurious camp food out at a medicine circle. And, her name is Jeannine. And, she is also on the call with us today. So, welcome, Jeannine.

Jeannine:  Thank you.

Ben:  Jeannine kind of works hand in hand with Tim, probably keeps him out of trouble a little bit like my wife does for me.

Tim:  Oh, yeah.

Ben:  And, between Tim and Jeannine, they are the parents of two sons themselves who they have raised in, I would say, very outside-the-box way and in a way that really fosters deep nature connection. I think this whole idea of fostering a deep nature connection, especially in our youth, a deep nature connection that goes particularly beyond VR headsets and churning out school essays using ChatGPT and spending copious amounts of time on TikTok is something that's pretty important in this day and age for creating a creative free-thinking resilient young human being who actually is fully equipped to go out and change the world and also to appreciate everything in this great Earth has to offer beyond screens.

So, Tim and Jeannine, welcome to the show.

Tim:  Thanks so much for having us, Ben. It's great to be here.

Jeannine:  Thank you.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. And, one of my reasons, the prime reason for getting you on is you guys were featured in my parenting book, “Boundless Parenting.” You had a whole chapter there and just went into vision crests, and rites of passages, and nature connection, everything that you do with your sons. And so, I want to get into some of that stuff and just open up a discussion about how we can foster nature connection not only for ourselves but also for our children. And, just for those of you listening in, I'm going to put shownotes for everything that we talk about including my previous episodes with Tim at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Corcorans, C-O-R-C-O-R-A-N-S, Tim and Jeannine's last name, BenGreenfieldLife.com/Corcorans.

Now, tell me about your sons. And, this is one of those marriage counseling ventures where both of you being on the podcast at the same time you guys get to elbow each other and choose who gets to reply to rich question. But, go ahead, whoever wants to start. Tell me about your sons.

Jeannine:  Okay. Well, we have two sons. Their names are River and Forrest. And, River is 16, Forrest is 13. So, they're now fully officially teenagers. And, what can I say, they want to get going on things. They really don't want to sit around. They want to live life fully. That's what I've noticed about them. And, I think there's been a foundation of their childhood like that too of just living life to the fullest, finding and discovering adventure. And so, what can I say? Parenting feels a little bit like a side hustle. They're always busy. 

Ben:  You guys have had a very unique method of educating them. And, I realized that this is a question that could go all sorts of places, but tell me about how you've raised your sons, particularly in the way that one might call their schooling has been different.

Tim:  Yeah. I mean, I think we can both speak to this, Ben, as a background and probably a foundational element to their education, we really view education very differently, I think, than the modern adult here in the United States. We don't see education as something that happens in a building that you go send your kids off to and then it's done at 3:00 o'clock or whatnot. We really hold that life is one great journey of learning. We consider ourselves lifelong learners and have intentionally raised our sons to be lifelong learners. So, as such, from the very beginning, from pre-birth even, we're very intentional about the educational process that they were going to go through.

So, as a background piece, Jeannine and I, we started Twin Eagles Wilderness School here in Idaho and Sandpoint that was 2005. River was born in '06, so we actually started the school a year before our first son was born. And, it's not just about creating classes as you know, but for our listeners, it's not just about classes you go to and you go and then you learn what you learn, then you come back. But, our effort has really been to create a conscious community and build long-term relationships. We know that some people are going to come and go, but we also know that some people would come and stay. And, many people have including you guys, your whole family. And so, over the years, these relationships deepen. I mean, I have some kids, we've mentored for 15-plus years. 

Ben:  I've run into some of them, by the way, as helpers or whatever you want to call them at the camps. My own sons are now starting into some of your mentoring for being teachers. And, they're just, they're different people. And, I want to give you a chance to keep going on how you educated your own sons, but yeah, it's just this maturity and gentleness and patience and mindfulness that you don't see a lot in kids these days. It's very interesting to see 16-, 17-, 18-year-old man or woman, a young man or woman who's gone through your program and been educated using a lot of these nature-based methods. They're just different people in a good way. So, yeah, I'm right there with you.

Tim:  And, it's so funny because we get a lot of parents, a lot of moms, frankly, who are like, “Oh, my god, where do you find these MIT? Where do you find these teenage helpers at your programs?” Like, “Can I hire them to be my babysitter?” We get that a lot. And, I'm always kind of chuckling, I say, “No, you don't understand, we didn't find them, we helped guide them.”

Ben:  We made them.

Tim:  I mean, I'm a humble man. There's obviously a lot of other influences on these individuals besides just Jeannine and I far outside of Twin Eagles, but we have had an influence. And so, what happens, Ben, when you get a whole community of these people? What happens when you've got teenagers like this? What happens when you've got young adults, when you've got families? When you've got adults, other kids, elders? And, those people all have a long-standing relationship. Suddenly, we're bringing back the essence of village. We're not living in a small village with 150 people, but we are bringing these relationships back. And so, we did that intentionally to form a foundation within which our sons could be raised. The vision was that from birth, they could come up with that kind of community surrounding them.

So, back to your question about education, we hold that a cultural context is really the ultimate education. And yes, on top of that, we still had to deal with core competencies like Math, English, History, et cetera. And, maybe I'll let you, Jeannine, speak to that because you've really taken that side on with homeschooling and unschooling.

Jeannine:  Well, I'll just add something though, Ben, to what you said. Just a few minutes ago, you said, “We made them.” And, what I wanted to respond to with that is the idea that culture is going to happen whether we like it or not, whether we plan for it or not, or schedule it, or intend for it. Culture is just going to happen. So, when we started raising our sons, we decided we wanted to intentionally craft culture around them rather than just say, well, wherever we go, culture is just kind of happening, we're kind of at the whim of it. Instead, we decided to craft culture around them.

Ben:  What did that look like from an early age when you started them into one might call school? Did you guys have a mix of books and nature time? Was it time spent with elders? What did it look like exactly? And, we have time for you to go into the nitty-gritty details if you want to.

Jeannine:  Actually, I was just meeting with a family yesterday and we were discussing this very thing about inputs, okay? So, when I look at any learner but in particular, my sons, I started with this knowledge that I need to be clear on what their inputs are. And, when I say inputs, I mean, what are they sensing? What are they seeing? What are they hearing? What information are they taking in? There's lots of different ways that they do take in information and receive inputs. 

And so, I was very clear starting out, both of us were very clear that their inputs would need to be nature-oriented. So, it's not a more moral issue here about whether something is good or bad, it's just about choices. And so, we chose choices, like for example, a book. I was just talking with this family yesterday about the types of books that my sons were raised on. And, one of them happens to be a book all about waterfowl. And, there's no words, there's no words in the book, it's a picture book, and they loved this book probably until they were 10. Okay. We've read this book a lot. And, it wasn't even something we've read because it didn't have words, we read the pictures. And then, they could interpret it themselves. That's classic board book type stuff, but this wasn't actually a board book, it was more a magazine and there was tons of pages and every single picture was an illustration accurate of all the waterfowl species of where we live. 

So, they're not just taking in these kind of random inaccurate pictures of ducks and birds and things like that, they're actually seeing detailed pictures of great blue heron when they're little kids and red-winged blackbirds and different kinds of ducks like mallard ducks and whatnot. And so, they're patterning on that over and over again and they're actually gaining knowledge of place as they're growing. And so, that's an input that's worth preserving and continuing because they may not even realize it, but as they're getting older, they now have a knowledge of all the beings that live around them. 

Tim:  And, fast forward been, 10 years or 5, 10 years, they're both now skilled birders that are active in the community. They love birding. I mean, they are obsessed with birds. They know every single species, 400, 500 plus species, how to identify them by song, by sight, from up close, from a distance.

Ben:  Is that what it means to be a birder? I probably would have failed the quiz if you would have asked me without telling me because I think of holding a hawk with the glove and setting it off. But, I think that's called, what, falconry, something like that.

Tim:  That's falconry, yeah.

Ben:  Okay. So, it's not falconry. What's birding?

Tim:  Birding is the study of birds. It's the study of all the different species of birds. It's tracking which birds are present at which time of year, what seasonal differences are there, all of the natural history in the biology of birds. It's a whole thing. I mean, most birders out there, frankly, I think, statistically are older. Oftentimes, retired folks get into birding. It's a significant and sizable passion that a lot of folks have out there.

Ben:  Now, does that include bird language? I think, you're telling me, maybe it was your son River actually speaks bird language.

Tim:  I wouldn't quite put it that way.

Ben:  Okay.

Tim:  But, yes, bird language is something that we teach at Twin Eagles. And, it's the idea that the sounds that birds make in the wild are not random, which they're not, they're communicating to one another. It doesn't translate in a spoken human language. Be sure, Ben, you can be 100% sure, those birds are tracking all of the predators, all of the hazards, food sources, weather conditions, where their shelter is. And, if you can imagine all of the birds singing, it's actually one giant elaborate complex alarm system that's in three dimensions happening constantly in the wilderness. 

So, if you have a bobcat coming through on the prowl hunting for lunch, all those ground birds, through their movement and their sound, they're going to announce bobcat's presence if they know bobcat is there. And, if you know those birds and what their sound like when things are normal or what we'd call baseline, you'll also be able to recognize, oh, my gosh, when an event happens an alarm, when they're alarming about the presence of bobcat, you'll know that. And, as the old story goes, we can oftentimes predict animal predator presence a minute or two prior to their arrival based on hearing bird sounds. And, people will freak out, they'll think, “Oh, my god, are you psychic?” I was like, “No, I'm just paying attention to patterns, just any other learning process is a matter of understanding patterns.” So, that too has been a big passion for River.

Jeannine:  So, I think to consolidate though, I'll just say it's not that River can speak bird language, it's that he can interpret it.

Tim:  Yeah.

Jeannine:  And, he's not a master at it by any stretch of the imagination, but he definitely can interpret it. And, when I talk about creating a culture around them and how they were raised in kind of unschooling, just as an example would be we would have these maps and we'd keep them in the corner of a room and River would come in. And, we never said anything about the map, okay? And, the map had on it tracking all the birds the time that they made communications, that they communicated something, they made a noise or a sound or an alarm or a companion call or a song or whatever it is. And, we've got all the initials of all the birds like American Robin has the initials AR if you look in a field guide. He just had happens to come by, happens to, meaning it seemed just random. But, the poster was always there. And, when he finally discovered it, he was ready in the place to see this map and he said, “What's this?” And, he pulled out the map and he started to ask all these questions because he knew all the codes of these birds like AR and great blue heron and so on and so forth. And so, very casual, I said, “Oh, this is a map, we're tracking all the bird language that's happened. And, the best time to do it is we get up at before dawn. We get in place and we see it and then we map it all out.” So, that was it.

And then, the next day without saying anything, him and his brother were up at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning and they were gone and I had no idea. And then, by the time they came back, I got up and I see that they're not even there. And then, when I came back, they had out a flip chart and they're mapping out their own experience of it. And, I didn't tell them to do that. So, that's kind of the idea of where passion-based learning meets, unschooling meets. Culture is created. We create the conditions for culture to occur.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jeannine:  We create the conditions for learning to occur by just setting up peripheral features, which is kind of like culture, a contained experience and the conditions therein. He just tapped into it. And now, he's taking his learning to the next level and he's doing it without just–nothing but a mere paper that was kind of like the power of suggestion that sent him off to do it. Does that make sense? So, just want, again, to give you a picture of what that unschooling could look like. And, this could happen with any kind of subject.

Tim:  And then, I'll just add briefly and let you respond here, Ben. But, of course, it wasn't just maps in the corner that was part of it. And yeah, there were field guides and there were journals and Kamana journals, and everything else. But, there were also all of these people surrounding him who also loved bird language, who also loved tracking animals, who love making fire by friction, who love harvesting wild plants. We intentionally surrounded them with people who cared, who were passionate about all these elements of nature. So, of course, that was their input back to Jeannine's point. So, of course, they got to find out what their passions were. And, they've gotten really into birding, they've gotten really into hunting.

One thing they haven't gotten so much into might have been, let's say, animal tracking. That just hasn't been a particularly big passion. And, that's fine. We knew that we wanted to surround them with lots of possibilities holistically so that they could identify what were their hearts on fire about and then support them in that journey.

Jeannine:  But, when he found the map, he did ask like, “Who made this map?” And then, we told him. And, of course, he knew who those people were because these people had seen River grow up.

Ben:  You say in the book that I think the way you phrased it was all the books and games and toys that they started off with from early childhood were from nature or nature-focused. And, that got me thinking like, “What about math or logic?” Alright, something like that, was it literally every single thing that you guys use for them from an early age was pretty much like that was your metric had to be something from nature?

Jeannine:  Pretty much. I mean, I wouldn't say it was rigid, but I'll give you an example. We definitely had many math lessons where we'd go to the beach. I knew that there was a sandbar space where there's sand. They'd go out. They would collect sticks and driftwood and then we would literally write out equations on the sand with it. Or, they would use the sticks. If you're saying 2 multiplied by 4 and then you have a line under the 4 and then you write the answer, they would have to write it out in sticks. So, they're using their whole body. It's a kinesthetic activity. You're not just sitting there writing on a paper, which is fine. And, as they get older and they do more complex math, they are doing that now actually.

Ben:  Right, yeah.

Jeannine:  They had a foundation of this.

Tim:  Particularly, I would say, Ben, prior to the age of seven. Seven and younger, we really recognized as incredibly formative years where the inputs are having a very significant effect on the child's brain, on their whole being as they develop. So, we were pretty idealistic, I think, at that phase and really pretty strong about trying to just maximize nature input and minimize, I don't know, technology, for example. But, yeah, I mean, by the time they were, I don't know, even 10 or 11, Jeannine, I mean, they had math books and they were doing standard math problems on pencil and paper as well. So, it's not like it was a crazy scene the way you might be imagining. But, yeah, those first seven years, we really did our best to surround them with a lot of nature inputs.

 Ben:  Interesting.

Related to this idea of what you did with them from an early age, one thing that you say that we didn't get into a lot of detail about it in the book but it really caught my attention and I wanted to perhaps hear you clarify what this meant, you said that when they were born, they had a Welcoming of Life ceremony. 

Now, I know you guys are super into ceremony because every time we've done wilderness survival camps, it starts and ends with a special ceremony. When we went and picked up our sons from their rite of passage, there was a ceremony, there was an opening ceremony when we left them and kissed them goodbye, and then a closing ceremony. And, they had another ceremony after that separate from you guys, friends, and family feast and giving away. And so, I know you guys are big on ceremony, which I really respect, but what's the particularly the Welcoming of Life ceremony at birth that you did?

Tim:  The Welcoming of Life ceremony and we spoke about this in the book, but it's one of many different rites of passage that meet an individual's need as they grow and mature through life. So, just for a little context, a rite of passage would be some sort of a ceremony or ritual that marks the shifting of the major life phases. So, we're talking about what, birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maybe parenting or marriage in there, and then becoming an elder, and then death. That's less than 10 major life phases that we each have. 

And so, when you look at all the old cultures, and for those who don't know, Jeannine and I have been really blessed to have a lot of traditional Native American and indigenous mentors, which greatly influenced us and as well as all of our life's work. But, if you look at the old cultures, Ben, you see that these rites of passage were, of course, present. Of course, rites of passage are very rare these days. And, when we do hear the word, it's either misunderstood or maybe it's connected with the adolescent rite of passage, the classic 13-year-old ROP. But, really, a rite of passage is just any major ceremony to mark the transition between any major life phase. So, really, if we were really living in a holistic culture, we might have seven or eight rites of passages, to mark the seven or eight major life phases that we go through.

So, the welcoming of life was the very first one and the Welcoming of Life ceremony, it's about connecting with spirit, it's about connecting with that thread of something that's actually meaningful, and is outside the realm of the mind or even the heart, but really, ultimately the spirit. Of course, it's connected with the heart. And so, the Welcoming of Life ceremony involves bringing people together. Ceremony to acknowledge the birth of the child. Spiritually speaking, it's an opportunity to welcome the spirit of the child into the child's body and to bring all that together. When our sons were born, gosh, there was a lot of synchronicity. One of the ways you know a ceremony is going well is synchronicity happens.

Ben:  What do you mean?

Tim:  Yeah. So, for example, I remember when Forrest was born, we were living at Cedar Springs where we had the school for a lot of years. And, as part of that Welcoming of Life ceremony, I remember taking him and holding him up going outside, holding him up kind of a Lion King moment. 

Ben:  You got to do the music though, Tim.

Tim:  And presenting him to the world. And, in that moment, no kidding. Two things happen. First, a couple of white-tailed deer popped up from the ferns, I don't know, 50 yards away and they looked over. And then, at that same moment, a barred owl called out in the forest back behind our place. And, it was eerie. I mean, I was like, hairs were going up on the back of my neck. And, it's a feeling thing, but the feeling was, “Oh, all of nature, all of life is witnessing his birth, they're helping welcome him.” A barred owl is announcing it to the entire forest. 

And, from that point forward, what was really interesting, Ben, is that Forrest had this very strong connection with owls and still does to this day. He can spot them and knows where they are when others don't. And, it's kind of this uncanny connection that he's got that's a little hard to explain. River had his own version of that. That was one element of it.

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One thing you should know that's super cool is that on the evening of March 11th in Sedona, I'm hosting a VIP dinner that's catered by me and my family using a bunch of biohacked recipes from my “Boundless Cookbook,” live music and intimate Q&A, and an absolutely unforgettable once in a lifetime taste bud entertaining experience where you just come and hang out with me. So, we're hosting at our house with only 25 seats available, so it's going to fill up fast, it's a VIP dinner, only a select few. We want to keep this small, intimate, but super fun with amazing food. So, if you want to get on the VIP dinner as a part of this event that I'm doing down in Sedona, go to BenGreenfieldSpeaking.com/Sedona-dinner, BenGreenfieldSpeaking.com/Sedona-dinner. 

I've worked to achieve many things in life, but my greatest yet most humbling work, I think, has been with my role as a father. Parenting is blissful. It's brutal. It's far beyond anything I ever could have anticipated. My sons are now teenagers. And, the people around us who engage with them often ask if I could write a book on raising children in education and legacy and discipline and all this stuff that goes into raising a good child, a good human. 

Now, I didn't feel that qualified to write a parenting guide, so I gathered a team of parenting superstars, dozens of my friends: entrepreneurs, authors, neurologists, psychologists, family coaches, a whole lot more. I got all their best tools, techniques, perspectives, habits on again, everything from education, to discipline, to travel, to rites of passage and beyond, and I put it all in one massive book that's like the guide to parenting. So, it's now available. It's at BoundlessParentingBook.com, and that's where you can pre-order your copy today. So, BoundlessParentingBook.com. It has been an absolute adventure putting this thing together. I think you're going to love it.

You went on from the Welcoming of Life ceremony at birth, and I love that idea versus just a cold steel hospital take them home and kick them into the world versus this being very, very intentional and almost sacred and reverent. We have a pretty big wedding at least still in western cultures and in most cultures, but it seems that birth, there isn't as much of a ceremony around it, which seems really weird when you think about it. 

But then, you also had all these other rites of passages that your sons went through a rite of competence and confidence at seven in a middle childhood rite of passage and rite of passage into adolescence. And then, eventually, even though they're not at that age yet, they'll be at a rite of passage into adulthood. I'd love to hear a little bit more about these different rites. What's the one that happens at seven years old, the Competence Confidence one.

Jeannine:  Yeah. So, the of Competence Confidence is acknowledging that a child has one foot still in childhood and kind of at the hearth in the nest, but they're stepping out and they are acknowledged for things that they can do. So, when our sons went through this ceremony, we acknowledged, “Hey, you can get dressed all by yourself.” This is a big deal, actually. You can ride your bike now on your own successfully and safely and responsibly. And, you can help out around the house. So, you are now just getting your foot into the space of I'm just starting to be a contributor and I'm an important needed part of this whole family unit and matrix. 

When we did that, it was really, really important that we had somebody else lead and facilitate it though because we need to have space to just be the parents. So, I went to our son's two most important key primary people outside of their parents. And, for my son, River, it was for his kindergarten teacher. And, at the time, he went to a kindergarten. And, I went to her and I explained to her, “Hey, he's emerging in more responsibility, he's a helper around the house.” And, I sat down with her and talked about the design of this ceremony. And, I said, “Hey, would you be the master of ceremonies for this?” And, I pretty much handed her the design, and then I had her over. So, it appeared to everybody she was the one who was going to take this over. And then, everybody said, okay, this is great. And, she let it. I stepped away. Again, it's crafting culture but I don't need to be at the center of it, so I stepped out and she stepped in and she led the whole ceremonial process. Similarly, for our other son, it was his adopted grandfather, Dave. And, Dave came in and led an entire ceremony and we just were the parents.

It's been intentional from the beginning that they'd have other people around them doing it. And then, the actual ceremony is them going through a process of mindfulness with themselves and then they come back to all–

Tim:  Solo time.

Jeannine:  Yeah, they had a little bit of solo time. For one of them, it was a spot in nature by themselves. For the other one, it was just being in a teepee and their grandfather, Dave, he asked Forrest questions to just consider in his heart. That's what I heard him say. In your heart, I'd like you to feel these questions. And then, he'd come back to the circle and he would share from those questions. And, what was really cool about Forrest ceremony was after he had this alone time, he returned and there was a fire. We were all around a fire and Dave led this process wherein Forrest' most special, special childhood toy was put into the fire. It was this little book that we must have read 50 times or a hundred times. It felt like just every day we'd read this book. And, even the older brother was sad to see the book go into the fire. Wow, he's not just a little boy anymore. Now, he's getting to be a bigger boy. We're acknowledging that.

And, when these ceremonies are over, I noticed River has said several times like, “When are we going to do the next ceremony?” Like, “When can I do the next one?” And so, that acknowledgment, it's not just like, “Good job, you're doing a good job,” it's actually an acknowledgment like we see you emerging and you're growing. And, it's not even like through words, it's like we're all just showing up for you. And, I say in these invitations to people, it's an incredibly vulnerable feeling to ask people to show up for your kids.

Ben:  And, that idea of bringing others in too, I mean, it does take a little bit of trust as a parent just to bring my own flavor to this when we brought River and Terran out for their rite of passage and kind of said goodbye to them and they got marched off with blindfolds off into the wilderness and we basically couldn't be there with them. My wife and I, we did a rough time. I mean, there was four days where we, I think, slightly longer than that where we hadn't heard from them and we had no clue where they were and we were nervous and my wife was crying. 

And, it's different than, I don't know, bringing your kids to basketball camp and you can call in and call out and Zoom, Skype at the end of the day or whatever. Turning over your children into the hands of someone else, whether it's an elder or a mentor or someone like that, I mean, I guess, people kind of sort of do that when they drop their kids off at school for eight hours a day and then assume at the end of the day the educational process is done, which I think could be kind of a mistake. But, it seems like there's something different about it when it's actual ceremony or rite of passage and you're just trusting someone else to take the reins.

Jeannine:  I think what it's about, I kind of imagine it like you're taking your most precious little caterpillar and you're going to go ahead and just drop it into this cocoon space with other people who are going to tend to it and take care of it. And, it would be presumptuous to say that we know what the caterpillar is going to turn out to be like when it comes out. But, there is this process of sitting in the waiting room and waiting for that emergence to happen. And, it does take a lot of trust and patience and surrender and letting go for that process, and really trust for that process to say like, “Oh, my goodness, this caterpillar is going to come out.” We don't know. It would be so kind of funny and scandalous to say we know what it's going to look like, but we have to wait.

Ben:  Yeah. Their middle childhood, you had another rite of passage. And, I think that one involved some kind of a hunt, right?

Tim:  Yeah. This was, I think, a less formal one, but as we talk about in the book, procuring food directly from nature is a big value for us. I mean, talk about part of the work is always to consider for us is what structures do we have in place that are going to facilitate connection. So, from an early age, we modeled harvesting wild foods going out for mushrooms or harvesting nettles in the springtime or even just contributing to a garden salad with wild dandelions or chickweed. And so, I got into hunting when the boys were little. I wasn't raised with hunting, but I got into it when the boys were little. 

My dream for a lot of years was actually to hunt with bow and arrow. But, between running the school and being a dad and being a husband, it was just too much, so I decided I was going to start hunting with a gun. And, although it wasn't my ultimate ideal, what it did was, of course, it allowed me to bring deer home. And, oh my gosh, in those early years, River and Forrest would get so excited when I would leave. And then, of course, when I would come back and they'd always want a big update, “When's dad getting back? Did he get a deer? Did he get a deer?” And, when I would bring a deer back, oh, my gosh, super excited. And, they would want to be there and they'd want to help with skinning it and butchering it and learning everything they could about this animal. They'd play with the deer's feet and compare it in their mind's eye with the tracks they've seen previously in the sand.

When they were, I don't know, yeah, 9 or 10, this natural passion started to emerge. “Well, gosh, when could I hunt?” And so, first, of course, it was with River, and so we got him a bow. And, he had had a bow for a lot of years. Actually, it was his uncle, his adopted uncle, Daniel, who gave him his first bow. So again, culture. And, River was very excited. We have snowshoe hare here in rabbits right here in Idaho. And, River was really excited and he wanted to know. “Okay. So, what do I have to do?” Well, I created this whole preparatory pathway. I said, “Well, you've got to think about how close are you going to be. So, first, how close can you get to one of these animals.” And, he would spend days and days and weeks and weeks sneaking up stalking on snowshoe hare. And, he found that he could get within about 15 feet of them, much closer they'd run off. I said, “Okay, your range is 15 feet. Now, you've got to get accurate with a bow and arrow on a target at 15 feet and be successful to hit the vitals of a snowshoe hare,” which is only maybe a 4-inch diameter circle at 15 feet 50% of the time or better. That feels like ethical hunting to me, right?

Ben:  Yeah.

Tim:  So then, he starts practicing. I'll tell you what, Ben. I mean, it was months and months and months of practicing. But, he wasn't just practicing for the fun of shooting a bow and arrow, of course, it's a fun thing to do, he was practicing because he knew this was the step he had to make before he was going to be allowed to hunt.

Ben:  Yeah.

Tim:  So, sure enough, he got his shot down. And, that takes time, that's not easy to hit a 4-inch target half the time or better.

Ben:  I know. I practice a lot with my own sons to prepare them–we're preparing for a March hunt for axis dear right now in Hawaii. And typically, a couple months prior, it's 12 to 15 hours a day every day, a lot of intention put into it to another great father-son bonding activity. But, just like we're doing breathwork every day right now to prepare for a spearfishing trip, we're going on in May, that journey of practice leading up to some type of rite of passage or ceremony or scary thing. 

I kind of sort of got a taste of that when I'd race Ironman Triathlon, and I'd have months and months of preparation; swimming and biking and running and fueling and studying the course and the dynamics and the elevation and the topography of the race. And, it's just kind of like that journey to the finish line starts so far prior. And, for a young man or a young woman, having those certain spots built in intentionally throughout their upbringing that they have to practice for, that they have to be ready for both mentally and physically and even spiritually, it's so important, it goes way beyond just like be ready for your math quiz on Friday or whatever.

Tim:  And so, you can imagine, right? In the moment when he finally did shoot that snowshoe hare, it was incredible. I mean, I still remember that moment. And, he had tears. It was this whole emotional mix of incredible pride and happiness that he hit his goal and then deep sadness that this beautiful rabbit has died, that he really cares about those hare. He'd seen those hare for his whole life. 

And then, when we came back, he processed the hide, he processed the meat, Shane helped him, and he made a beautiful snowshoe hare stew and then brought people together. And, we did a giveaway, which you mentioned earlier, which is again a traditional part kind of the ending portion of a rite of passage where you bring people together, the person is going through the rite of passage and they say, “I'm going to feed you. I'm going to give you gifts as my way of saying thank you for seeing me. Thank you for helping to raise me to this point in my life.” So, that's what he did and he gave the whole thing away. Although, he didn't keep any of that first snowshoe hare. It was really hard.

Ben:  Yeah.

Tim:  But, there's such a value in there of the give and take, the reciprocal nature with the Earth, with community, with spirit.

Ben:  Yeah, I love that. It's so cool to weave this type of activity in. And, you and I when we podcasted the last time, Tim, and again, for people listening, if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Corcorans, C-O-R-C-O-R-A-N-S. You and I Tim talked about the rite of passage into adolescence and rites of passage into adulthood and even vision quests. And so, I would encourage people to listen to what goes on after maybe that middle adolescence because we already talked about a lot of that and we wouldn't necessarily need to revisit that.

But, I do want to talk about some other traditions and habits and routines and rituals that I thought were really interesting and unique that you guys do. You talk a lot about how you spend regular time together as a family outside in nature as a key part of your children's upbringing and obviously a big part of their education as well, and that a lot of that is wildlife tracking and knowledge of wild edible and medicinal plants and wilderness survival skills, and, like you mentioned, birding and harvesting huckleberries and morel mushrooms, and then the archery that you talked about, the training in the early archery. But then, you mentioned that you have this annual tradition of an ancestor supper. What's the Annual Ancestor Supper?

Jeannine:  That's an annual coming together, recognizing our ancestors, feeding them. So, what we do is we create dishes that our ancestors ate. And, one example of that is just a simple dandelion salad. So, Tim's dad had a great, great grandparent who went out and forged for dandelions and would make a salad just with a simple vinaigrette. And, River and Forrest would write their grandfather a letter to find out, “Hey, what did our great, great grandparents eat?” So then, he would write a letter back. This is just through snail mail. And, he would tell them the exact recipe and how she ate it and what she would do and who she was. And then, that one year from getting that information, they went out, they gathered dandelions, and then they made that salad and we ate it that night. And then, we acknowledged her. 

And, for that particular time, I remember we still have that letter. We put the letter on a little altar like, yeah, this was her. And, their grandfather had photocopied a picture of her in this letter. So, we put the picture there too. And, before we eat, we make a plate and we put a little bite of each one of these dishes and we put it on that plate and we call it the first bite and we feed them first. And so, on this altar, we might light a few candles, we have photos of them, maybe a special object that they had that got passed to us, and then we put the plate there so that they are joining us, eating with us.

And, there are other cultures who have these ancestor suppers. They're called like “ghost suppers” and things like that, and they'll even go so far as to put fabrics over all the mirrors in the house because they say, wow, we don't want those spirits to come in and catch themselves, seeing themselves in the mirror. So, I mean, we don't go that far because that's not our culture but just to recognize, these are powerful rituals of connecting with those who came before you and knowing one day you're going to be one of those people too. It's developing a relationship with death and life, and what it takes to feed life that is necessary in order to feed death and death that feeds life. That whole cycle. So, that's a little bit about that ritual that we have.

Tim:  And, if I can just jump in. So then, you imagine gathering with maybe 30 people and there's 20 different dishes representing 20 different sets of ancestors. And, each person's got a story, each person's got that special dish. Everyone brings a picture of the ancestors, and we put them all together in front of the fire. And, when you bring that kind of intention and that kind of effort together, magic happens. 

And, it was really interesting for me, Ben, we've been doing the ancestor supper for a lot of years. And, in the early years, we didn't have as many ancestors as we've gotten grown older. We've been doing this work for 20-plus years. People have died. And, at first, there was a couple people in the community that passed away and we would add their pictures. But, I'll tell you what, man, last year, my mom passed away, and it was a huge, huge thing for me. And, after that, when I put out those little spirit plates, those first bites, and when we do things like ancestor supper, the amount of meaning is skyrocketed. I mean, I'm almost choking up right now thinking about it honestly.

I do believe my mom's spirit is still out there. Yeah, she passed away, but I do believe in this connection. When I honor the ancestors in that way, it's taken on a whole new meaning. And, River and Forrest experienced that and Jeannine does and our whole community does. So, as I've matured through the years, this one has just taken an increasingly meaningful layers of depth for me.

Ben:  Yeah. I think in intentionally talking about death too, what we've done with River and Terran is we've all written down and planned out in the family constitution our memorial service, our funeral, our end-of-life directives, and our end-of-life wishes, all the way down to what kind of food do we want at the memorial service, what kind of music, what are people going to be wearing, what will the emotions be like, happy and joyful, somber and reverent. And so, they've all had a chance to sit down and map that all out as well as an obituary writing exercise, and this idea of thinking forward to one's death, of course, is not only meaningful as far as creating a more reverent appreciation for the passing of life and also for elders and young people, but I think that it also helps with purpose, like the understanding, “Oh, life is temporary. Is my time today best going to be spent on Minecraft or on using my God-given skills to create art that's going to inspire someone or make them laugh today?”

Jeannine:  And, I really appreciate you bringing this up because honestly, there's a lot we're competing with. And, I'm not actually saying that those things like Minecraft are necessarily bad, but again, it's all about just choices of where we want to put our focus. And so, just as an example this past fall when we were going to do ancestor supper, our one son really wanted to go trick-or-treating. He's had that for the past couple years. We wouldn't always do this, actually engage in that. 

So, my other son said, well, aren't we going to do ancestor supper? And, I said, “Oh, it's kind of tough to compete with Halloween. Maybe we just won't do it.” I said this to my son, and he said, “Well, Mom, it's okay because we actually eat a lot of these foods year-round.” My 16-year-old said this. And so, we can do ancestor supper any night we want actually. It doesn't have to be on this one night. And, that was profound for me to hear because it made me realize like, “Oh, yeah, if you think about it generationally, that is how it worked.” I mean, you're eating generations upon generations of ritualistic meals every day, and the stories that are in those foods gathered and whatnot. So, for him to just have a glimpse into that and realize, yeah, we can do the first bite any night, we can serve the things we've foraged that we know our ancestors foraged for, any night of the week we could do that.

Ben:  Yeah.

Jeannine:  It kind of takes on a different meaning. Ritual isn't just an annual thing anymore, it's a way of living.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Now, you have this annual ancestor supper, but then you also have–I think you're describing the book as a Weekly Family Night. Now, we're big into family dinners at our house. I've talked about this on podcasts before, our long family dinners with board games and card games and laughter and song and a lot of intention brought into family dinner. But, the weekly family night for you guys, what does that look like?

Jeannine:  Well, we meet once a week and we will have dinner.

Ben:  Do you have family dinners on more nights than just one though?

Jeannine:  Every single night.

Tim:  Oh, yeah. Yup.

Ben:  Okay.

Jeannine:  Every single night. And, the way we extend that is we put the food on the table. Okay. If the food is right there with you at the table, you're just going to stay there longer.

Ben:  We don't do that, and it's probably because–well, first of all, there's always games on the table and it'd be hard to squeeze the games in the food. Plus, for me, it's a health thing. If you've got to stand up to get seconds, you'll think more mindfully about just plating more food onto your plate. So, ours is on the island in the kitchen counter and you just kind of got to stand up and go over to the kitchen counter if you want to plate up and get seconds. But, very, very small detail but go ahead.

Jeannine:  For some reason with our group, it would be in reverse, like I'd put it on the counter. And, as soon as they're done, the meal's over for some reason.

Ben:  Oh, yeah.

Jeannine:  And, everybody takes off. So, I just kind of hooked into that thinking like, “Yeah, this is a little bit extra work, we got to put everything on the table.” But, when I did that, I noticed we all sat there longer talking. I don't know how to explain it, why. But, that's what would happen. So, that's intentional, we put all the food on the table so we stay there for longer. 

And then, when we're done, we know that once we do cleanup, we're going to convene for a family meeting or some kind of experience we're going to have together. And, a lot of times we end up having a council. It's like a talking circle type of format where we're talking about big matters. Maybe we don't always agree on them and we're learning how to communicate with each other. As they get older, we're bringing in more subjects that hopefully through practice, we can get more mileage out of our attention span with each other and we're counseling about different really important topics.

Tim:  And, I would say River and Forrest have learned that in that context at our family home evening that we do once a week, it is a safe space. They know they can go there and bring up more sensitive topics that maybe they would feel more hesitation to bring up at a different time. So, over time, Ben, they've learned to trust that space and build a relationship with it where more can come out. Sometimes if there's difficulties, oftentimes strong emotions will come up at that time. If they're sadness or anger, sometimes that'll come up. Also, if there's something to celebrate, they love bringing their wins to family home evening. 

I mean, I really got to give it to you, Jeannine because you've really held the vision on that since the boys were little. I didn't have this growing up, but you guys did in your family of origin. And, I still remember all the stories you would tell from your family. And so, yeah, Jeannine brought this in really early and has really stuck to it. And, gosh, through the years, it's just proved to be just a really simple but really powerful really impactful routine for our family.

Jeannine:  Yeah, we always have somebody open it up. It's kind of funny and simple, but we have somebody say, “Okay, welcome.” It is a funny formal thing. But, yeah, I ask our sons to open it up, so they'll say, “Welcome, everybody,” in their unique way. And then, he share gratitude and then Tim will always bring us to intention setting and the question is, how are you going to conduct yourself and how are you going to bring yourself to this that's going to contribute to positivity? And, also so that we end on a good note. So, we all each say what's our commitment and then we have some announcements and whatnot. But then, we get into the heart of something, usually pretty meaty that we're counseling about.

Tim:  And, there's also fun and games and awesome yummy snacks and desserts and all kinds of good stuff. And, Jeannine, you're also just expert at bringing that element to it as well.

Ben:  I have a couple more questions for you. Beyond the weekly rituals and things like the annual ancestor suppers and the rites of passage, one of the ritual that kind of caught my attention that I think is kind of unique is the celebration of seasons. I think if you asked most young men and women walking around these days, they probably wouldn't know when or what the fall equinox is or the winter solstice. Tell me about the seasonal rituals though and how you've woven those in.

Jeannine:  My favorite really is when we go racing in the fall.

Ben:  Ricing.

Jeannine:  Ricing, yeah. So, we're going out to forage for wild rice. We take our canoe out. We go to this lake. Can't tell you what it is because–

Tim:  Top secret.

Jeannine:  It's a top-secret location.

Tim:  But, that's usually on the fall equinox, isn't it?

Jeannine:  Yeah. And, it's usually on the fall equinox literally that day. And, we go out and we gather rice in the canoe and it started with four of us. And, I have to say it hasn't always been all four of us on that day because when you gather rice, it's actually incredibly itchy. And so, sometimes there's a few people who will like scoot out and they're like, “I'm kind of busy that day,” but we always come back and often we make a fire and we cook the wild rice after we process it. And then, we're eating it throughout the year too. That's what marks the fall equinox for me and for those who go.

Tim:  Yeah. That's one example. Jeannine and I actually got married on the summer solstice, so June 21. Our wedding anniversary is actually on one of the solstices. That helps. Winter solstice is always a big one since the boys were little. And, this was a pretty counter-cultural move, I remember, especially early on like, oh, my gosh, because I was raised with Christmas and New Year's and the whole thing. But, we really have attempted to bring more meaning back to these things. Christmas is more than just presents or Thanksgiving is more than just a turkey like, what's the meaning here? What is this all about? How can we bring a richness of culture to these experiences? So, we have a whole ritual around the winter solstice and going out to get together and sharing reflections and acknowledging. Jeannine always leads a beautiful candlelight ceremony. We have all the lights off, so we're really with darkness and then you have a chance to be with your candle and set an intention for the year. But, it's taking time and pausing and slowing down and acknowledging these changes. Man, when it's winter solstice, we just went through that one right, a couple months ago.

Ben:  Yeah.

Tim:  And, it's like a 16 hours of darkness and eight hours of light and you really get into that. There's a silence in there. There's a pause, a deeper pause where you can almost feel the Earth standing still for a moment. And, in that is this incredible amount of rest, and oftentimes traditional wisdom would tell us that the veil between worlds thins during this time. So, oftentimes, strong dreams will come through, or again, odd synchronicities will pop up, maybe not so coincidentally. But, at each of the four seasons, so the two equinoxes and the two solstices, if we do something as a family to mark those. And, it helps locate us and an annual basis, where am I at? And, how is the season externally reflected inside of me? What's the quietness I'm going into? It gives permission to slow down and pause in a culture that is obsessed with doing and accomplishing. Or, in the height of the summer. When it's 16 hours of light and eight hours of days, it gives us permission to really express and celebrate fully and just it's summer, I mean, just go for it all the way, and then those transition times with the equinoxes. So yeah, that's been a big one too.

Ben:  By the way, if you're listening in and have no clue about equinoxes and solstices, basically there's four of them. In mid-March, the day and night are of equal length. And, that's the spring or the vernal equinox is what that's called. Then, there's the summer, the longest day of the year, usually in June. I know that one because it's close to my wife's birthday. And then, there's another day and night of equal length in the autumn, that's the autumn equinox. And, in winter is the shortest day of the year. 

We also, like in our house, we try to give some recognition to another way to split up the year which for us being Protestant Christians, we've got Advent and Epiphany and Lent and Easter. And so, there are seasons of a church calendar as well. There are many ways to split up a year, have comings and goings during the year, but yet again, a small subtle shift in the way that we parent, from parenting through nature immersion, through parenting with rituals and traditions and rites of passages, through parenting with honoring of the elders, through parenting with seasonal ceremonies or religious ceremonies. I just think that it's one of those posts, probably like, I don't know, post-reformational scientific logical materialistic era type of consequences that we just don't seem to have that type of reverent observation of the comings and goings of human life and the planet woven into a child's upbringing. But, I think it's such an important thing. 

I think it really helps to break up a year that seems like a really trite way to put it, but it just gives, I think, especially a young human being and this idea of tradition, something firm and something reliable that they can lean upon, almost the safety of predictability. Not that we don't ever want our kids to go out and do dangerous things type of way, but more in a way that allows them to know when it is, what season it is, what time it is, what's coming next, what are they preparing for, what have they learned from previous ceremonies. And, I just think it's a fantastic way to grow not only as a kid but to continue those type of traditions as you become an adult. 

Tim:  Absolutely. And, I just want to add to that, Ben. So, 100% agree with you on all that. And, it gives them an opportunity to notice those same changes occurring inside themselves. And, it gives them permission to be with the changes, the evolutions, the transformations that we all are undergoing. So, there's that mirror effect, which is a subtle thing. But, over time, when kids are surrounded by that and given permission, they're more well-adjusted, they have better nervous system regulation, they're healthier in mind, body, heart, and spirit.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

I think that a lot of people are probably listening and they're birding going out in canoes for wild rice teaching your kids using weeds and mushrooms. That's weird. Your kids are going to be weird. They're going to get out in the real world, bro, and have a total shocking moment of realization when they're trying to navigate through the crazy complex world of AI and VR and GPT and almost this digital existence or this more complicated existence that a lot of human beings almost have to prepare for now. Do you ever get concerned or do you ever think about, gosh, what are kids going to do or be when they grow up, so to speak? Are they going to go win, I don't know, Alone or Naked and Afraid and just live off the winnings of conquering a bunch of wilderness TV shows?

Jeannine:  Yeah. We've watched a few of those. Those are fun. For sure, I definitely feel concerned at times. Not going to pretend like I don't. I think that we are living in a world now that is very different than 30, 40 years ago when I was young like that, like a kid or a teenager. And, they're entering a world we can't even fully comprehend and we're just getting it started. So, when I think about that, we're like on the bell curve where we're just going on the digital world and technology. I do see though that with our two kids, they're interested in that too.

Tim:  Oh, yeah.

Jeannine:  They want to learn how to navigate it. I mean, one of our sons is trying to build his own channel online and present content on birding and hunting and being outside in the wilderness. And, I found a tutor for him because he does better when I'm not his teacher in school in 100%. And, she sat down with him and he crafted a vision statement for himself. This our 16-year-old son. He said, “Yeah, I want to create online content for people so that it will inspire them to go out into nature and see birds.” I don't know how long it'll take him to be fully successful and what his measure of success is for that, what he would define as his measure of success, but he's on that journey of learning how to navigate through this world. And, I think sometimes it can be scary for him. But, he is trying to figure that out. And, that's awesome. When he created that vision statement, I realized like, “Okay, he has had a foundation and he is trying to figure out how to move through the modern world still.”

Tim:  And, that's really the spirit behind it, Ben, is our philosophy really is to support them to walk in two worlds, that there is this older world of nature that is still right here, right at our back door, and there is this modern world. And, of course, they're going to have to face that. Of course, it's still the year 2023 like there's no getting out of that, nor do I suggest that anyone should try. But, there's something important and valuable about having this foundational element of deep major connection in place that supports whole human development, so that when they do interface with the greater world and technology and all of that stuff that they're going to have a chance. I mean, that's the basic philosophy here that we're operating behind is this is valuable for whole human development. 

And, we've seen that time and time again parents like yourself and hundreds and hundreds of thousands honestly of others whose kids come to our programs and they tell us, “Oh, my god, this is like medicine for my soul, my kid comes back so much healthier and happier and fully alive and excited, and their depression and anxiety is down.” That's a known phenomenon.

Ben:  Yeah.

Tim:  These are actually measurable phenomenon that exist. And so, what we've said is, “Okay, we've put a lot of our chips in on this nature connection piece, clearly.” It is paying off. And, it's interesting. I mean, River is, I think, as the oldest, he's really followed in our footsteps more. It is following in our footsteps where he's very passionate, birder and hunter. And, yeah, he's got two YouTube channels that he's working on and creating content. And, Forrest, he's much more socially oriented. So, he actually started at our local charter school this year, seventh grade. And, that was–

Jeannine:  He wanted to try that out.

Tim:  Yeah, he wanted to try that out because he was saying, “Hey, I need more social interactions.” And so, now, he's navigating all of that. And, that was a big piece, it was big for Jeannine and I both to let go. It was hard, but we did. And, he is turning into this amazing human being who's finding his values. He's got such a big heart. He moves and kind of operates in those social circles a lot more than River. So, yeah. So, I mean, is there a risk? Yeah, but gosh, I mean, what's the opposite? We raise them with technology from birth. Is there a risk there? Absolutely. And, would I be more worried if I had done that? Heck, yeah.

Ben:  Yeah. I have the same feelings about River and Terran. For example, they have a cooking channel, they have a cooking podcast, they have a social media account for running that. They're starting to design a game company now. Shoutout to Fried Pickle Games. And so, they're taking a lot of the stuff that we do; we cook, we eat, we enjoy nature, we play pickleball, we have these family games and they are using some amount of digital communication to bring others into that joy that they've discovered. And, I think that's the perfect way to use the digital world is the icing on the cake to a largely analog existence.

Now, I know that we didn't talk a lot about this during our discussion over the past hour, but for those of you who are curious and who want to learn more about Tim and Jeannine's approach, of course, it's heavily detailed in the “Boundless Parenting” book, shameless plug, at BoundlessParentingBook.com. But then, also these programs that they run, people, I have friends, folks, I know, they fly in from all over the country to attend one of these Twin Eagles Wilderness School, wilderness survival camps or rite of passage or vision quests or deep nature immersions or summer camps or spring camps or even winter camps where they build snow tunnels. And, it's an amazing time and I would encourage any of you who haven't yet visited their website, the Twin Eagles Wilderness School website to check out what it is they're doing and to get involved, or even though you may have to do a little bit of vetting, look up a similar wilderness school or nature immersion school in your area if you can't get out to North Idaho or Spokane. 

Even though I'll, of course, vouch for Tim, there are other great places like Boulder has the BOSS school, there's some Tom Brown schools in the northeast. And, there's all sorts of ways that you can get your kids involved with something like this. Another person you might want to look into who I'll be interviewing later on is Katy Bowman. She's got a lot of good writings and a great book I was recently reading on raising a child in the wild or at least introducing more wilderness immersion into their upbringing all the way down to what kind of clothes you give them so they can climb trees better. And so, check out Tim and Jeannine's Twin Eagles Wilderness School. I'll link to that in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Corcorans or you can go to twineagles.org and read their chapter in the book. If this really got you thinking about rites of ceremony, about rites of passage, about traditions and rituals, then we've really only scratched the surface of what's detailed in the book. So, be sure to check that out.

Tim and Jeannine, I'm so grateful to know you as friends and so grateful that you were able to come on and share some of your parenting wisdom from a very unique perspective with us.

Tim:  Thank you so much, Ben.

Jeannine:  Thank you.

Tim:  We really appreciate this connection with you and your family, and Jessa, and River and Terran, and yeah, really grateful for this opportunity.

Jeannine:  Thank you, Ben.

Ben:  Awesome. I'm super happy we're able to record this. And again, for those of you listening in, BenGreenfieldLife.com/Corcorans. Until next time, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Tim and Jeannine Corcoran signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

Alright, you may have heard the rumblings about this event as actually happening. So, get out your calendar, March 10th through the 12th, March 10th through the 12th, 2023, of course, I am doing a big event in the hot spot of Sedona, Arizona. If you haven't been to Sedona, it's amazing. The hiking is amazing. The food is amazing. The energy is amazing. And, my friend, two-time former podcast guest and an amazing expert in breathwork and self-discovery, in movement, and all the cool things that happen as far as body, mind, spirit connection down there in Sedona is putting on an event, her grand opening event at this place called SHINE in Sedona. And, I'm going to be there giving a keynote talk, teaching you all about breathwork, and biohacking. 

But, that's not all, she has so many experts coming in. We have a freaking Kakao ceremony. If you've ever done a cacao ceremony, it's drinking really good chocolate in a very ceremonial way. You're going to love it. They got mind-body reset sessions using quantum energetic technologies, infrared rays, negative ion therapy, crystals, these special mats that you lay on as you do special forms of breathwork. They've got a heart expansion coaching session where you actually learn using neurofeedback technology, how to guide and modulate your nervous system. The list goes on and on, but what's cool is there's even a VIP dinner with me. I'm bringing my entire family to Sedona and we are going to cook you a Greenfield-style home dinner right at a private location. It's a VIP part of this experience. Not only that, but my sister is going to be playing live music there. So, the whole thing's just going to be amazing.

Anyways, if you want to get in, we're only opening up the dinner to 25 guests and SHINE has limited space, so tickets are very limited for this. They're going to go fast. And again, it's coming up quick, March 10th through the 12th. You can fly into Phoenix if you need to get to the area. If you're already in Phoenix or the Sedona area, you know where you're going. So, here's the address, bengreenfieldlife.com/SHINESedona. That's bengreenfieldlife.com/SHINESedona. You can get in. You can grab your ticket. There's different ticket levels. There's the tickets for the VIP dinner experience. You can even attend virtually at a fraction of the cost if you can't make it there live even though there's a lot of cool things happening, of course, if you are there live. So, one more time, bengreenfieldlife.com/SHINESedona. If you don't know how to spell Sedona, just go google that, SHINESedona. I hope to see you there.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.



Tim Corcoran is a leader of men’s groups, holistic rites of passage for boys, and wilderness quests, guiding and initiating men and boys into a new paradigm of the mature masculine.

Since 1999, Tim has dedicated his life to consciously furthering this vision of living in balance with the earth, community, family, and self.

He's been a previous podcast guest on the episodes:

As the founder of Purpose Mountain, Tim offers Nature-Based Purpose Guidance and Wilderness Vision Quests to support people with a love for nature who feel a deep yearning to discover their purpose and find their place in life. The quests are 10-day, in-person immersions that facilitate a deeper understanding and connection to nature.

Tim also serves as co-director of Twin Eagles Wilderness School, an organization he founded with his wife, Jeannine Tidwell. Twin Eagles Wilderness School is dedicated to facilitating deep nature connection mentoring, cultural restoration, and inner tracking. Jeannine is a mother, mentor, program leader, and coach. She offers programs for girls and young women in Rites of Passage.

Jeannine Tidwell is a mentor and guide for people of all ages wishing to actualize their potential and reconnect with what's easily forgotten amidst the distractions and modern veneer of life. She is a mother of two sons and married to Tim Corcoran. Although she was born in southern Idaho, her ancestors are of European and South American descent. Jeannine offers 1:1 coaching and mentoring as well as leads Women's Retreats, Rites of Passage, and other programs throughout the Northwest.

Both Tim and Jeanine were featured in Boundless Parenting, and their incredibly unique approach to nature and wilderness-based traditions, habits, routines, and rituals are all featured in this episode. Tim and Jeannine live in Sandpoint, Idaho with their two sons.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-Who are Tim and Jeannine Corcoran?…04:47

-How the Corcorans raised and educated sons River and Forrest…09:00

  • Life is one great journey of learning
  • Started Twin Eagles Wilderness School in 2005
    • Creating a conscious community
    • Building long-term relationships
    • Mentoring programs
  • Bringing back the essence of village
  • Cultural context is crucial
  • Crafting a culture around their sons
  • Their inputs need to be nature-oriented
    • Having knowledge of beings around them
    • Excellent birders today
  • Birding is the study of birds; all the different species, history, and biology, tracking seasonal differences, etc.
  • Bird language
  • Predicting predator presence prior to their arrival based on bird sounds
  • Creating conditions for learning to occur
    • Maps in the corner
    • Journals and field guides
    • Surrounded by people who also shared his passion
  • Surrounded them with lots of possibilities
  • Math lessons on the beach when they were very young

-Ceremonies and rites of passage…25:30

  • Welcoming of Life Ceremony is one of many rites of passage for major life phases
    • Birth
    • Childhood
    • Adolescence
    • Adulthood
    • Marriage
    • Parenting
    • Becoming an elder
    • Death
  • Traditional and native Americans, indigenous mentors
  • Synchronicity – all of nature is witnessing the event
    • The birth of their first son Forest
    • The whole of nature welcoming
  • The Rite of Competence Confidence (at 7 years old)
    • Acknowledging that the child is one step out of childhood
    • Starting to be a contributor
    • Other important people from their lives leading the ceremony
  • Ben’s experience with his sons
  • Middle childhood rite of passage
    • Less formal
    • Includes hunting – procuring food directly from nature
    • Months and months of practicing with bow and arrow
    • Bringing people together, preparing the stew, and giving
    • Give and take nature with the earth, community, with spirit
  • Second podcast with Tim Corcoran:

-Other traditions and habits, routines, and rituals…46:22

  • Annual Ancestor Supper
    • Coming together recognizing ancestors
    • Creating dishes that our ancestors ate
    • Acknowledging and honoring ancestors
    • Powerful ritual of connecting with those before you
    • Developing a relationship with death and life
    • Gathering with other people for Ancestor Suppers
    • Has taken on an increasingly meaningful depth over the years
  • Ben’s family planning their memorial services
  • Ritual has become a way of living, not just an annual thing
  • Weekly family night
    • Putting food on the table
    • Talking about big matters and learning to communicate
    • It’s a safe space for more sensitive topics; strong emotions can come up
    • A simple and powerful routine
    • Fun and games, tasty desserts
  • Celebration of Seasons
    • Ricing in the fall – forage and gather rice in a canoe at the lake
    • Wedding anniversary – summer solstice
    • Winter solstice
      • Candlelight ceremony and setting intentions for the year
      • Taking time and pausing and acknowledging changes
      • Slow down and pause in a culture that is obsessed with doing and accomplishing
  • Equinoxes and Solstices
  • Ben’s experience – seasons of the church calendar
    • Gives security and safety of predictability
  • Noticing changes and transformations inside themselves

-Their concerns about kids' futures…1:03:35

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023

Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.

  • Shine Event / VIP Dinner: March 10th – March 12th

I want to personally invite you to an intimate VIP dinner experience with my family and I in beautiful Sedona, Arizona. I'll be in AZ during that time presenting as a keynote speaker at the Breath, Body & Beyond ‘Shine' event from March 10th to the 12th, and I'd love to see you there for my formal dinner on the 11th. At this dinner, you'll be presented with an exquisite home-style dinner personally prepared by the entire Greenfield family, a free signed copy of Boundless Cookbook, a personalized Q&A with me, and entertainment by local vocal artist and my younger sister, Aengel Greenfield. Learn more here.


32 Questions For Boundless Parenting

The following questions were posed to Tim Corocran and Jeannine Tidwell, and the rest of the wise parents interviewed for my upcoming book, Boundless Parenting.

  1. How many children do you have, how old are they, what is their profession or passion, and why, in particular, are you proud of them?
  2. Are there any elements of your parenting approach that you would consider to be particularly unique?
  3. What books, systems, models, or resources do you rely heavily upon or consider to be indispensable in your own parenting?
  4. What traditions, habits, routines, or rituals are most important, memorable, or formative for your family?
  5. What rites of passage or significant moments of maturation to adolescence or adulthood have your children experienced, if any?
  6. Who do you look up to as parenting mentors?
  7. What have you taught your children about raising their own children?
  8. Do you have any philosophies or strategies for educating your children outside of traditional school, such as homeschooling, unschooling, self-directed education, or other alternatives, creative, or “outside-the-box” forms of education?
  9. What has been your proudest moment as a parent, and why?
  10. What do you wish you had known before first becoming a parent?
  11. Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome as a parent? If so, how have you coped with that?
  12. How have you achieved a balance between mentoring and passing on wisdom without “living vicariously” through your children?
  13. Have you ever faced any big parenting decisions that kept you awake at night worrying or that you feared you would mess up?
  14. What do you regret, if anything, from your experience as a parent?
  15. What is the biggest mistake you have made as a parent?
  16. What, if anything, from your parenting experience would you go back and change or improve?
  17. If you had multiple children, what did you think was right at the time with one child that you then went back and changed with the next child or future children?
  18. Have you ever sensed or feared that your children would grow up too different or weird as a result of any “outside-the-box” parenting approaches you used? If so, how did you deal with that?
  19. Have you ever differed from your spouse on parenting principles, techniques, or approaches? If so, how did you manage that?
  20. Warning: This question is long but important: As a parent, have you ever felt conflicted about wanting to share a book, teaching, resource, or method with your children as a means of impacting their future success, but feared that it might “overload” them, especially at their age? If so, how did you balance bestowing this valuable knowledge to your child without causing them to worry too much about adult concerns? How did you decide when to just “let a kid be a kid” versus nudging them towards responsible adulthood and the attainment of valuable wisdom?
  21. How have you balanced being a present, engaged parent while preserving your own identity, taking time for your own self-care, tending to your career, or pursuing other interests that did not include your children?
  22. How have you engaged in one-on-one time or created space for dedicated time with your child, especially if you have more than one child?
  23. If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, what strategies have you found most helpful for maintaining and building your relationship with them?
  24. If your children have grown up and moved out of your house, do you often miss them, fear for them, or think of them? If so, how have you coped with any loneliness or desire for their presence?
  25. Do you have non-negotiable rules for your children?
  26. How have you disciplined your children, if at all?
  27. How have you helped your child to establish responsibly, moderated, or conscientious consumption or use of books, media, entertainment, screen time, and social media? This is not my favorite question because the focus on “limiting screen time” seems a bit blown out of proportion these days and I think causes kids to get obsessed with the “forbidden fruit” of screen time, but it seems to be on the minds of many parents today, so I’d be remiss not to include it.
  28. Have you emphasized or encouraged any health, fitness, or healthy eating principles with your children? If so, what has seemed to work well?
  29. If your child or children could inscribe anything on your gravestone, what would you hope that they would write? What would you most want them to remember about you?
  30. What do you most want to be remembered for as a parent?
  31. What do you think your child or children would say is their fondest memory of being raised by you?
  32. What message for parents would you put on a billboard?

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Tim Corcoran and Jeannine Tidwell:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Levels: If you want to better understand how food affects your health by trying continuous glucose monitor, go to levels.link/Ben to learn more. They also have a really well-researched, in-depth blog that I recommend checking out if you’re just looking to learn more about topics like metabolic health, longevity, and nutrition.

HVMN: Visit hvmn.com/BenG and use code BENG20 for 20% off any purchase of Ketone-IQ️.

Shine Sedona: Join my family and me in Sedona Arizona from March 10-12, 2023 at an amazing event hosted by SHINE. I'll be giving a keynote talk on breathwork and biohacking, and hosting a VIP Greenfield-style home-cooked dinner prepared by my family. For tickets to the Shine Event where I'll be a keynote speaker visit bengreenfieldlife.com/shinesedona.  To book your spot for our VIP dinner visit bengreenfieldspeaking.com/sedona-dinner.

Boundless Parenting: Everything you need to know about family, parenting, and raising healthy, resilient, free-thinking, and impactful children. Go to boundlessparentingbook.com and pre-order your copy now.


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