About the Four Shields

Explorers Club practices circular leadership and collaborative design with participants. In the fall of 2012, the young men from the oldest group of in the Explorers Club came together and birthed a new program called Four Shields. 

The goal of the Four Shields program is to help participants Follow their Bliss and to help them develop increasing confidence and competence, and deepen their connection with this wild Earth. Together, Shielders and mentors help guide each other through our journey towards becoming caring, authentic, moral, healthy, engaged, compassionate, and connected - individually, socially, and ecologically.

In the words of Bill Plotkin, “---healthy adolescence---holds our master key to both individual development and human evolution. Adolescence, at this time, is the locus of both our crisis and our opportunity”. Sitting at this junction our mentors are here to walk alongside Shielders as they wander through the wilderness of our culture as their growing shadow of self-awareness following closely behind them. 

During adolescence it is common to be faced with introspection, self-judgment, repression, doubt, anger, and fear. It is also the time in life where we find self-worth, self-acceptance, and our gifts. Our program offers a place for Shielders to grow and mature, feeling the powers inherited along the way to adulthood.

Members of the Four Shields Program, called Shielders, maintain the core values of exploring, serving, and connecting. Our annual offerings include three (3), focused-skills outings, three (3) day-long explorations, two (2) campouts (one early fall, one late spring), and the opportunity to serve with our younger Explorers Club groups at our Connelly Creek Restoration Site. Additional offerings include our Summer Adventures Wilderness Explorations (multi-day backpacks with elements of rites of passage).

Shielders are highly encouraged to join the Explorers Mentoring Apprentice (EMA) program. Being an EMA is a way for Shielders to work with younger explorers and enjoy the landscapes, games, skills, and knowledge instilled in the Explorers Club experience. An EMA has the opportunity to experience this as a mentor and learn some of the subtleties of "leading from behind".

There is fun to be had on the journey. The Four Shields experience is rich, rewarding, often funny, and sometimes quite challenging. We work as a team, guiding and supporting each other as we explore the cultural, social, emotional, and physical wilderness of arriving adulthood.


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