Why do our programs cost what they do?

We price our offerings to be as affordable as possible while still enabling the financial survival and blossoming of Animas Valley Institute, a nonprofit organization. Our fees support our small part-time administrative staff, provide our highly skilled guides with a modest income, and meet our basic and essential expenses (which include liability insurance, public lands permits, retreat center fees, and meals on many of our programs).

Our programs are offered on a sliding scale that allows participants to select a fee that fits their financial picture. Scholarships are available to those in need of further assistance. 

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Some details:

  • Nonprofit status:
    • Animas Valley is a nonprofit organization — a 501(c)3. It is not (financially) owned by any individual or group.
    • When we do have an annual profit (about half the time), it is generally quite small. All profits are allocated to further building our capacity to offer our services.
  • Scholarships, program discounts, and special programming:
    • Most years we are blessed with significant donations from past participants as well as grants from foundations, both of which enable us to offer scholarships to those in need and, more generally, to price our programs lower than we could otherwise. These contributions also allow us to develop and offer new programs for special populations such as Millennial visionaries and change-makers.
    • We offer scholarships for those in need and are continuously seeking additional funds for scholarship support.
    • If you’d like to request a scholarship, please email us at soulcraft@animas.org.
    • If you are able to contribute to our scholarship fund — at any level —please contact us at soulcraft@animas.org or click here.
  • Our perspective and consciousness about our fees:
    • All our programs are offered on a sliding scale.
    • We constantly look for ways to further reduce our costs.
  • Permits and insurance:
    • Unlike many other organizations and guides, we always obtain permits from the public land agencies where we operate, and we carry the necessary liability insurance in order to be eligible for those permits. These two items amount to a significant cost.
    • All organizations and guides who charge a fee for services and operate on public lands must, by law, obtain permits and insurance.
    • The benefits to you of our permits and insurance are knowing that your program will never be interrupted by your group being ejected by rangers from a wilderness area or other public lands; that the conduct of our programs are aligned with the environmental oversight of our public land managers; that we are not operating illegally; and that our guides have the skills, knowledge, experience, and certifications that enable us to be insured and permitted.
  • Operations staff and office:
    • To keep our programs running well and smoothly, Animas maintains a small and mostly part-time (and brilliant!) staff in a physically very small office, paid a fair but modest wage.
    • Our unavoidable overhead is significant. In addition to staff wages, this includes liability insurance, public land permit fees, phone lines, computers, and other typical business expenses.
    • Our operations staff is able to offer a level and quality of individual support seldom found elsewhere — both before and after your Animas immersion.
  • Our guides:
    • The Animas guides are comprehensively trained and highly experienced. We offer them moderate compensation out of respect for their professionalism, years of training, quality of service, and long hours (generally a minimum of 12 hours every day of guiding). Our guides could make a much better financial living in other careers if they were not so passionate about the work they do at Animas. Being an Animas guide is for sure a labor of love!
  • Group size, program length, and guided hours:
    • A primary reason our fees are sometimes higher than other organizations is because our groups are, by design, small — enabling us to offer a level of individualized and customized guidance rarely experienced elsewhere. (Our fees are also considerably lower than many for-profit organizations offering multi-day human development services.)
    • The number of hours per day our guides dedicate to your experience is basically unheard of anywhere else. Our offerings are truly immersion experiences in which you are invited into an all-embracing ceremonial process entirely separate from your everyday affairs.
    • Our vision fasts are longer (more days) than most others, affording a deeper and more thorough experience.
  • Meals:
    • Unlike most other organizations that offer vision fasts, on ours we provide most of the meals before and after the fasting days.
    • The meals we provide on all our programs are 100% organic (or as close as we can get) and sourced as locally as we can.
  • Retreat-center-based programs vs. all-camping programs:
    • Our participants have always been split between preference for retreat-center-based programs versus all-camping programs, the former being more comfortable and accessible for many, the latter being less expensive. Consequently, we provide a mix of the two formats, although we are moving more toward a greater percentage of the latter.
    • Please do let us know if you have a strong preference for one format over the other (and why) at soulcraft@animas.org.
    • If you know of retreat centers or private land that may be suitable for our programs, please send your tips to soulcraft@animas.org.
What kind of camping equipment will I need for an Animas wilderness-based program?

We provide a comprehensive equipment list as part of the preparation package we send you. While the packing list for certain programs may contain a few differences depending on the location and nature of the program, our general lists can be found below. Call us or email if you would like more information about equipment before making your decision.

Animas Quest Packing List

Retreat Center Packing List

Campground Packing List

If I will be fasting, will I get so hungry or weak I might get sick?

First of all, fasting is a component only on our Quests, and even then it is optional although strongly encouraged. If you do fast, you may experience stomach cramps, nausea, and discomfort. Some people are scarcely affected by fasting and others become weak and/or uncomfortable. While many have found fasting difficult, no one has ever become seriously ill as a result of fasting on our programs. Our protocol for initiating and breaking the fast has been developed over 20 years with the help of physicians and other healthcare professionals.

What happens if I get hurt or sick in the wilderness?

Your leaders are seasoned wilderness guides who carry state-of-the-art first-aid equipment and are trained in wilderness medicine. While Animas has had no significant injuries in 24 years, we are prepared to offer the best care possible in the event of accident or illness.

What kind of food do you serve?

Most meals at retreat centers and in the backcountry are lacto-vegetarian, made from natural and wholesome ingredients. We purchase organic, locally-grown food as much as possible.

What about transportation?

You are responsible for your own transportation.  For retreat center programs, this means just getting yourself to and from the retreat center.  For quests, it may involve getting yourself to and from the retreat center as well as the backcountry location for the quest. Most of the locations where we hold our programs are at least a few hours from any major airport, and public transportation is not usually an option, so many participants choose to carpool in order to share the costs.  Once a program is officially confirmed, we send out a contact list so folks can communicate about carpooling.

Can I come with my partner, family members, or friend?

For our more fierce and intense offerings (e.g., Animas Quests, Yearlong Immersions, Sweet Darkness, and most other Advanced Intensives) we ask couples, family members, or best friends to not attend together.

Sometimes partners, family members, or close friends attend the same Soulcraft Intensive, Wild Mind Intensive, or other less advanced immersions (e.g. Romancing the World, Prayers in the Dark, Nature and the Human Soul, Council and Mirroring, Art and Soul, Spider Silk in Moonlight, Writing the Wild Soul). Though usually not the best way to experience an Animas Intensive, but for practical purposes it’s sometimes the only way or much more affordable, and partners do naturally want to share intense and transformative experiences. We do welcome couples, family members, or best friends who want to attend our less advanced immersions. The reason why it can be less than ideal is that the primary person in our lives who “anchors” our current identity or life story is usually our partner, parent, or best friend. Soulcraft is underworld work and the goal, in part, is to loosen our attachment to our current life story so we might glimpse something of the mysterious image or story we were born to embody in this lifetime as a gift to others. This can be much more difficult when the experience is being shared with someone whose life story overlaps significantly with our own. Because of unavoidable dynamics, we suggest to partners, family members, or best friends attending room separately, not sit next to each other in group, and not “compare notes.”

Do I need wilderness and/or backpacking experience?

Animas programs can be physically and psychologically challenging, but previous experience in the wilderness is unnecessary. Half of our programs are held at retreat centers and involve no camping. On our wilderness-based programs, more than half of our participants have never previously been camping. Some of our Quests and other programs employ a drive-to-basecamp format in which neither backpacking nor special physical fitness is required.

How do I prepare myself for an Animas program?

Once we receive your deposit and completed registration form, we will send you a preparation package that includes specific suggestions for physical, emotional, and spiritual preparation, travel information, and a comprehensive equipment list if that is relevant to the your program.