Tending Fires


Coming of Age Documentary

"Tending Fires” is a coming of age documentary by Peter Ferland about the inner workings of a rite of passage experience created for 7 adolescent boys in the Hudson Valley. It interviews the multi-generational circle of men who helped create it as well as the boys' parents and explores the larger themes for community when culture is created.

rite of passage

The rite of passage experience created for the boys asked them to tend and keep a fire going over a twenty-four hour period while alone on a mountain in the Catskills of NY.  They had water but no food and no electronics or other objects that could distract them from their task.  While this experience was a culmination of a wilderness program, most of the boys had never been alone for such a period of time -- or as one father puts it "He's never been anything like alone for twenty-four hours."

Interviews include cultural mentor Mark Morey of the Institue for Natural Learning who has facilitated rite of passage experiences for over 20 years, Wilderness Instructor Charles Purvis, and actor and parent Michael Gaston among others. Thank you for your interest in this movie and these coming of age ideas.