Gap Years and Emerging Adulthood

by Alison Sever

Gap years are a crucible; a rite of passage for each of us that inspires a future to work towards, and a grounding of our limitations in acknowledgment of mankind’s inextricable interdependence.

— Ethan Knight, Director of the Gap Year Association

Coming into our fourth semester of running the gap program together, Jake and I are increasingly aware that Gap at Glen Brook is part of something much greater than our program, and much farther reaching than the gappers that come to camp. Gap at Glen Brook is one fiber on the plume rewriting the passage into adulthood for our culture.

Can you think back to the time when you became an adult? What were the indicators? Was it graduating high school and moving out of your parents’ house? Was it going to war, your first real relationship, a major life event that made you realize something about your ultimate humanity? You may be able to identify that passage as a moment, you might not. You may have had the support of a loving community to celebrate your transition, or you may have had to find recognition on your own. You may be wondering if it ever even really happened…

Gap at Glen Brook is part of the movement to provide this generation—this innovative, individualistic, and impact-oriented generation—with a holistic and transformative rite into an adult life of consequence, authenticity, and gratitude, one that offers itself to the health of the whole.

We acknowledge that the contemporary rite of passage movement is both a new phenomenon and one that is ages old. It is indebted to myriad cultural traditions, many of which have been systemically silenced or appropriated. We strive to contribute to the complex theme of human development from a place of humility, discernment, and curiosity. One of the curiosities we find ourselves with is: with all this in mind, how can we transform the gap year into a crucible for a better future?

It’s a considerable task, but we are humbled to be part of an inspired movement to initiate our youth into this mysterious and complex world.

Working through and learning from the inter-cultural conflicts… and building toward reparations and restoration is an integral part of creating the ceremonial processes that allow communities to be renewed by the fires of transformation crossed by their youth. It is also an integral part of the world of justice, peace, purpose, mystery and abundance into which we seek to initiate our youth.

— Youth Passageways, “Cross-Cultural Protocols in Rites of Passage: Guiding Principles, Themes, and Inquiry”

Learn more about the Gap Year Association here

Read the entire “Cross Cultural Protocols in Rites of Passage” by Youth Passageways here.

 Alison Sever is a gap year alumna and the Assistant Director and Program Co-Leader at Gap at Glen Brook.
Alison Sever is a gap year alumna and the Assistant Director and Program Co-Leader at Gap at Glen Brook.


Share Post