“Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them.” ~Thomas Berry

The generation known around the world as the Millennial Generation is coming of age at one of the most critical and exciting moments in history. We are living amidst an epochal turning point in human civilization that eco-philosopher Joanna Macy calls The Great Turning, a time of transition from a dying industrial-growth society to an emerging life-sustaining society. For author and nature-based soul guide Bill Plotkin, it is a shift from a pathologically adolescent culture that is egocentric, competitive, materialistic, and life-destroying to a soul-based culture that is ecocentric, collaborative, in balance with the greater Earth community, and life-enhancing for all. More than ever before, our global society is calling for soul-initiated adults and visionary changemakers who can contribute their unique gifts to creating a better world, yet we live in cultures that have largely forgotten the deeper purpose of adolescence and young adulthood and the practices of soul initiation that engender true adults who eventually become true elders. Through a partnership between two visionary organizations dedicated to human development and cultural transformation, the Millennial Quest is designed to illuminate for the contemporary world the process and practices of soul initiation and to help actualize the life-transforming gifts of today’s rising generation – a generation called to renew, remake, and reimagine our world.

Program Goals

  • To support a new generation of young visionary leaders, changemakers, and social entrepreneurs who will help guide humanity through the cultural transformation that our communities and the greater Earth community wholly depend upon
  • To cultivate a dynamic group of young people who will support one another in realizing their fullest potential and callings in the world, and who will help shape and transform the larger story and movements of our generation
  • To create greater public awareness around healthy adolescence, young adulthood, and the initiatory transition into mature adulthood
  • To help launch and nurture social change, entrepreneurial, and artistic projects that support widespread personal and cultural transformation

Target Participants

Young people from diverse backgrounds within the global Millennial Generation – roughly ages 18 to 35 – who are stepping into or are in the midst of their initiatory journey toward visionary leadership and true adulthood.

Costs & Scholarships

Participating in the Millennial Quest program requires a deep commitment at all levels including financially. The total cost of your participation will range somewhere from $2500 – $4000 not including your transportation costs. We recognize that this is a high cost and inaccessible for many potential participants. Limited scholarships are available, focused on those most in need, and will not cover the full costs for anyone. Fundraising support will be provided, and for many this will be an essential part of how you cover your costs. If you are strongly called to be a part of this program, we will work hard and in partnership with you to make your participation possible.

Program Phases

Phase One – The Call to Adventure: A Soulcraft Intensive w/ Bill Plotkin & Geneen Marie Haugen March 5 – 9, 2016 at Black Mountain Retreat Center in northern California (2 hours north of San Francisco) Participants will attend a special offering of the Animas Valley Institute’s Soulcraft Intensive led by Bill Plotkin and Geneen Marie Haugen, a five-day experiential plunge into a set of nature-based practices designed to evoke the life-shifting experience of soul encounter. Soulcraft practices spring from nature-based cultures, modern depth psychology, the poetic tradition, and wilderness rites of passage—to comprise a truly contemporary Western path to soul discovery and soul initiation. By the end of the intensive, participants will understand themselves and their place in the world from a more soul-oriented perspective, be clearer about the gifts they were born to bring to the world, and have new skills to enrich their lives and to defend the health of the more-than-human world. They will leave deeply connected with their peers, poised to continue their work back home and in their lives, and ready to prepare for the second phase of the Millennial Quest program. The cost of participating in this particular Soulcraft Intensive is a sliding scale from $895 – $1315, including accommodations and all meals but not including transportation costs. A deposit of $450 will be due within two weeks of being accepted, unless otherwise agreed upon. Learn more about Animas Valley Soulcraft Intensives here.

Phase Two –

The Journey of Initiation: An Animas Quest w/ the Animas Valley Institute Participants will embark upon a twelve-day Animas Quest, a contemporary enactment of the pancultural vision quest for individuals seeking greater depth and clarity about life purpose and meaning. As a rite of initiation, the quest is a ceremonial descent to the underworld, in which a person dies to their familiar way of belonging to the world, uncovers the passion and wisdom of their soul, and retrieves the gift that is theirs alone to bring to the world, enhancing personal fulfillment and genuine service. The quest serves as a modern rite of initiation — not into any social, religious, or spiritual group, but into their own soul and deeper layers of true adulthood. As participants step more fully into their own calling, they will also be exploring and shining light on the collective calling of their generation. Upon completion of the Animas Quest, participants will be poised to carry their soul-infused gifts and life-transforming visions back into the heart of society. Learn more about the Animas Quest. For Millennial Quest participants, the possible dates & locations for an Animas Quest are as follows, additional dates/locations may be added:

May 2 – 13, 2016, Arizona

June 1 – 12, 2016, Utah

July 5 – 16, 2016, Colorado

August 2 – 13, 2016  location TBD Specifically geared for Millennials

August 6 – 17, 2016, Colorado

September 13 – 24, 2016, Colorado

Phase Three –

Returning to the World: Weaving Our Gifts into the Heart of Culture Fall of 2016 through Spring of 2017 Following the Animas Quest, participants will be supported by reincorporation mentors and life coaches helping each person to grow further into a soul-centered life of purpose and passion and to turning their vision and personal gifts into life-transforming projects, start-ups, and inspired actions. Participants will also contribute to the collective storytelling about the Millennial Quest journey they have experience through writing, videos, and other means of sharing their stories with the wider world.

A Learning Community

Participants will stay linked throughout the Millennial Quest through an online platform for ongoing connection and collaboration as they journey deeper on their path of personal and cultural transformation. Seasonal phone calls will also take place, and individual support will be available as needed.

Program & Scholarship Applications

Please fill out an online application here that includes both the program and scholarship applications. Space is limited, so please apply as soon as possible.


Please consider nominating an ideal participant for this program online here.

Financially Support this Program

If you would like to financially support this program or a particular participant, please contact [email protected]


Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions about this program.

Program Leaders

Bill Plotkin, Geneen Marie Haugen, and members of the Animas Valley Institute will serve as the primary sources of support for the Soulcraft Intensive and the Animas Quests. Joshua Gorman and members of the Generation Waking Up team will serve as the primary sources of support for the overall Millennial Quest program.

Bill Plotkin, Ph.D., is a depth psychologist, wilderness guide, and agent of cultural evolution. As founder of western Colorado’s Animas Valley Institute in 1981, he has guided thousands of women and men through nature-based initiatory passages, including a contemporary, Western adaptation of the pan-cultural vision quest. Previously, he has been a research psychologist (studying non-ordinary states of consciousness), professor of psychology, psychotherapist, rock musician, and whitewater river guide. In 1979, on a solo winter ascent of an Adirondack peak, Bill experienced a call to adventure, leading him to abandon academia in search of his true calling. Bill is the author of Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (an experiential guidebook), Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World (a nature-based stage model of human development through the entire lifespan), and Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (an ecocentric map of the psyche — for healing, growing whole, and cultural transformation). He has a doctorate in psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Geneen Marie Haugen, Ph.D., is a writer, wilderness wanderer, scholar, and guide to the intertwined mysteries of nature and psyche.  She delights in offering wild questions, ceremonies, escapades and reflections to stir the imagination and expand perception of the world, perhaps shift the sense of who we are and what we’re about, and deepen an experience of participation with an intelligent, animate Earth/cosmos.  Her writing appears recently in Ecopsychology; Parabola Magazine; Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth;,and Thomas Berry: Dreamer of the Earth. In her scholarly work, she is exploring the awakening of what she calls “planetary imagination,” and the possible emergence of a new mode of the human that she has called Homo imaginans.  She is a former tipi-dweller and whitewater river guide who lived for decades in the land of bison, grizzlies, elk, and wolves, absorbing their furred, antlered, clawed, and howling teachings.  She now lives amidst the creatures and features of southern Utah’s sandstone labyrinth.

Joshua Gorman is the founder and Coordinator of Generation Waking Up, an organization igniting a generation of young people to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. He studied “Global Youth and Social Change” at George Mason University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Youth Action Network / TIG-USA, and supports youth-led projects internationally. He is a founding member and Board Chair of Youth Passageways, a network of individuals and organizations working in the fields of youth & community development, contemporary rites of passage, intergenerational collaboration, and cultural renewal. He is a lifelong student of human development and transformational education with a focus on providing young people the experiences, knowledge, and skills they need to thrive in the twenty-first century. As a writer, speaker, organizer, and facilitator, Joshua is one of the leading voices championing the paradigm-shifting role of the Millennial generation. He currently lives in Oakland, California where he is completing a book titled Generation Waking Up: How A New Generation Is Coming Of Age and Changing Our World.

Partnering Organizations

Animas Valley Institute ( is one of North America’s longest-standing organizations offering contemporary wilderness rites, founded in 1980 by wilderness guide and depth psychologist Bill Plotkin. “Animas” is plural for “souls” in Spanish. Animas Valley Institute is located in southwest Colorado in the valley of El Rio de las Animas Perdidas — The River of Lost Souls. Animas programs differ significantly from those offered by most other wilderness organizations, vision-fast guides, and experiential educators. Our work is not primarily rites of passage, wilderness-based psychotherapy, or emotional healing. Our focus, rather, is nature-based initiation, whose central goal is the descent to soul for the purpose of maturing the ego so that it becomes a vessel for a person’s deepest, world-transforming gifts. Our programs are not designed to solve everyday personal problems or to help people better adjust to — or be happier in — the surface world of contemporary Western culture. Instead, our intent is a foundational shift that elicits each person’s most creative, soul-rooted response to our precious, critical moment in history.

Generation Waking Up ( is a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, California that ignites young changemakers to bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world. We directly serve 15 – 35 year-old members of the Millennial Generation from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds across North America through workshops and leadership training programs. Our approach to youth empowerment and youth-led social change utilizes a story-based model that motivates young changemakers to engage in transformative change and to shift our collective worldview. We use a holistic model of leadership development focusing on inner and outer change, and offer a whole-systems framework for change that gives rise to innovative, systemic solutions and works to create a collective impact on our entire societal paradigm.