Staff and Guide Bios


  • Meredith Little

     Meredith and her husband Steven Foster co-founded Rites of Passage Inc. in 1976 and The School of Lost Borders in 1981, pioneering new methods and dynamics of modern pan-cultural passage rites in the wilderness, and creating innovative practices of  “field eco-therapy.”  The essence of their work is captured in articles, chapters, an award-winning documentary film, Lost Borders: Coming of Age in the Wilderness, and books that include: The Book of the Vision Quest, The Roaring of the Sacred River, The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature.  Since Steven’s death in 2003 Meredith continues both nationally and internationally to guide and train others. She has also co-founded along with Scott Eberle a new branch of Lost Borders entitled The Practice of Living and Dying, to help break the taboos and silence that pervade the subject of death and to help restore dying to its natural place in the cycles of life. Meredith is currently the director of The Practice of Living and Dying, Lost Borders International, and owner of Lost Borders Press.  

  • Betsy Perluss, PhD

    Betsy discovered the School of Lost Borders in 1995; a moment she attributes to the mysteries of synchronicity and grace.  Immediately, she fell in love with the school’s earthy ways and the sage scented Owens Valley. She has since gathered over fifteen years experience as a guide and trainer of vision fasts. She has been Director of Education and Outreach and currently serves on the School's Elder’s Advisory Council. Unable to curb a longing for wild places, Betsy left her position as a university professor to live with her husband in the pine and oak forested foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada.  She is a licensed psychotherapist and continues to teach ecopsychology and Jungian Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara and has a private psychotherapy practice in Grass Valley, CA.  Betsy is an ardent observer of psyche and nature and has published various articles on this topic.  Her dissertation: "Landscape Archetypes: Islands, Valleys, Mountains and Deserts" (2004) is about the interweaving of psyche and the land upon which we walk and live. 

  • Emerald North

    Visionary, painter, sculptor, gardener and poet, Emerald North, brings years of vital and vibrant experience to the School of Lost Borders. She teaches from the depth of a full and rich life with humor, vision and love. Emerald has been with Lost Borders since 1993 and co-directed the School with Joseph Lazenka from 2001 through 2005. Art Website: http//

  • John Davis, PhD

    John has been leading wilderness rites of passage retreats since 1984. As a School of Lost Borders staff member, he leads vision fasts and other wilderness-based retreats and trains rites of passage guides. As a professor at Naropa University for many years, he directed the MA programs in ecopsychology and transpersonal psychology. He currently teaches transpersonal psychology, ecopsychology, and wilderness therapy there. 

  • Joseph (Angelo) Lazenka

    A vision fast guide and trainer since 1984, Joseph joined the Staff of the School in 1993 and since then, using a variety of titles like: Guide, Teacher,Director, President , and Board Member, has offered himself to the  ever evolving work of the school. Joseph brings a passionate, dramatic voice to the nurturing of individual character and calling, and a mythic empathy for people, their dreams, and the healing power of nature.

  • Larry Hobbs

    From a field biologist studying whales and dolphins, to a psychotherapist working with individual and family systems, to a teacher and naturalist leading wildlife trips worldwide, Larry came to Lost Borders to train and to guide vision fasts. Although still conducting river dolphin research in Southeast Asia, teaching and leading natural history trips around the world, Larry's passions lay in guiding vision fasters and in sharing his knowledge of the way we understand the ecosystems that support us all.

  • Nancy Jane

    Nancy is an educator, wilderness guide, and council facilitator. She began her study of wilderness rites of passage in 1981 and has been following this calling ever since. Nancy leads youth and adult vision fasts and has pioneered wilderness rites of passage in school settings. Her intention is to listen deeply in support of others’ connection to nature and spirit; to hold the deepest, widest container of safety and acceptance for others; and to empower them in the full expression of who they are.

  • Pedro McMillan

    Pedro is the father of two grown children and has been an environmentalist since childhood. An early eco-entrepaneur, he founded and ran a green business for 26 years until selling it in 2016 to focus on rites of passage work. A veteran of many fasts since 1996 he trained and assisted with several programs at the School of Lost Borders before stepping into the role of guide in 2010. He brings a wealth of experience and a poetic and passionate heart to this work.

  • Petra Lentz-Snow

     Petra Lentz-Snow has guided vision fasts and wilderness rite of passage programs for over 20 years and is currently serving as Co-Director and Board Member at the school.  From 2012 - 2015 she was the executive director of the Wilderness Guides Council, a network of guides supporting wilderness ceremonies around the world.

  • Ruth Wharton

    An experienced wilderness guide, mentor, and therapist. Ruth has worked extensively with people of all ages in wilderness, residential, and therapeutic settings. She been a guide at the School of Lost Borders over 15 years and is deeply committed to re-introducing rites of passage into the world. This woman passionately weaves the mirror of nature through the world around her.

  • Scott Eberle

    Scott Eberle has worked as a wilderness guide at the School of Lost Borders since 2003.  While he guides an array of programs for the School, he has two special interests.  The first is exploring how the symbolic death-and-rebirth dimension of the School’s ceremony is informed by his considerable experience sitting with people who are physically dying.  To this end, he and Meredith Little co-created the School’s “Practice of Living and Dying” programs.  His second interest is exploring the wonderful synergy of having your heart and mind cracked open while sitting alone in the wide expanse of the desert, or while sitting quietly on a meditation cushion.  His first book, The Final Crossing: Learning to Die in Order to Live, explored the first interest.  He is presently writing a second book, The Red Thread of Story, which weaves together both of these interests, while he seeks to understand why it is we humans tell stories.  
  • Silvia Talavera

    has been a guide with The School of Lost Borders since 1993. She is a woman of versatility, passion, and humor, inspiring people towards self- empowerment.  She brings to her work a nurturing insight, a deep compassion, a love of nature and teaches from the experience of a full life. Silvia is committed to supporting people in transitions using nature based teachings in a wilderness setting as well as midwifing those who are in there final stage of life through Hospice.

  • Virginia 'Gigi' Coyle

    Virginia "Gigi" Coyle  has served as a community activist wherever she is, a council trainer wherever called, and a rites-of-passage guide and trainer with many individuals and organizations. She is learning to be a mentor and an elder, and serving on such councils, for the School of Lost Borders, the Ojai Foundation, Youth Passageways, European Council Network, and Weaving Earth...

  • Will Scott

    Will is a teacher, naturalist, wilderness guide, facilitator and a life-long student of the human-nature relationship. Will began by leading backpacking trips and has since been a guide both domestically and internationally with college-level field courses, wilderness expeditions, and nature-connection mentoring programs. Will has been guiding youth and adult programs at Lost Borders since 2007, and has recently begun working as trainer as well. Will received his masters in holistic and experiential education from Prescott College, where he focused his studies on the essential components of an “education for our times.” He went on to co-found the Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education in Sonoma County, CA.

  • Win Phelps

    Win Phelps has been a truck driver, a private eye, a Chinese Mandarin translator, a single parent of two, an Emmy-nominated TV director and a quest guide and trainer of guides for the School of Lost Borders. He is a carrier of council, a pilgrim Beyond Boundaries, married to the Earth--and to Gigi Coyle--and a long-time devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.


School Guide

  • Marlow Hotchkiss

    “My professional life is focused around coaching, training, and facilitating others to realize their goals. I am fascinated by people and how we grow; I have a natural gift for empowering others and for eliciting their inherent talents, their authentic selves. I work most creatively and productively in the context of shared leadership and team collaboration. I believe deeply in the power of heartfelt and candid conversation to heal relationships and build community.”

  • Cazeaux Nordstrum

    Growing up in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona when the towns were small and the wild untamed lands were vast, Cazeaux lived among the influence of many native cultures. The land itself was a spiritual center honored by the annual indigenous and religious rituals and ceremonies. Traveling throughout the West as a child, camping from a young age gave her a sense of safety and an experience of the true mirroring of nature.

  • Ray Hillis

    Ray has led and assisted fasts with the School of Lost Borders for the past few years. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA in 1968, recently retired from a lifelong career of teaching human development and counseling, and has had a psychotherapy practice (presently in Santa Fe, New Mexico) with a special interest in Jungian analytic dreamwork since the 1970s.

  • Scot Deily

     Scot has been personally involved in rites of passage work for the past two decades learning from and later co-guiding in various forms, most recently training at SOLB. Scot draws from his past incarnations including his time on a wildlife sanctuary and retreat center, traveling and performing in a nomadic horse caravan, a wilderness field instructor and part-time farmer. He is a Licensed Master Social Worker serving previously as a therapist utilizing equine, sand tray, art and play therapy in rural New Mexico.

Guest Guide

  • Ann DeBaldo, PhD

    Ann has spent years exploring the spiritual and healing traditions of cultures around the world. As a professor with a doctorate in medical science who now specializes in international public health and education, she has extensive experience leading and guiding educational journeys to Asia, South Asia, Central America, and South America. As a wilderness guide, she has years of training in the ways of the wilderness. Ann has been a student of the Diamond Approach since 2000 and a student in the Diamond Approach’s seminary teacher training program since 2006.

  • Collin Brown

     Collin Brown is a seeker, healer, teacher, guide who has delved deeply into the mysteries of eros, love, death, and embodiment. His path has taught him to value and trust the wisdom and insight that come from experiential learning whether it’s in a classroom or out in the boundless beauty of nature. As the director of the Body Electric school for fifteen years he developed curriculum and continues to teach courses that awaken others to the mysteries and grace of being fully alive in their erotic bodies.

  • Cynthia Morrow,

    Cynthia Morrow is a wilderness rites of passage guide, a seasoned psychotherapist of 20 years, and a biodynamic craniosacral practitioner. Her work is devoted to the awakening of our own wild and interconnected nature for deep healing, inner strength, and whole-heartedness. She is a Dharma practitioner in the Japanese Tendai tradition, an ancient spiritual lineage from the blood-line of her Motherland.

  • Daniela Maiwald

     Social – and Theater pedagogue, Actress, Clown, Hospital Clown, Vision quest guide.

    Daniela works as a Coordinator, Teacher and “Midwife” in Bont’s International Clown School Menorca ( She is a walking guide on the island, and for many years has accompanied children and adults in theater, nature & wilderness. In 2015 she attended the Month long training at the School of Lost Borders. She loves to work in the field of rites of passages. 
  • Eric de Bont

    Physiotherapist, Energy worker (Reader, Healer), Actor, Clown, Pioneer, Founder and Artistic Director of Bont’s International Clown School Menorca, Spain (bont'

    For 35 years Eric has been teaching and directing clown all over the world.  He coaches people in the field of Social Clown in schools, hospitals, elderly people houses, refugee camps, hospice, etc.  He has developed a unique and authentic Clowns pedagogy.  

  • Jess Beaulieu

    A seasoned professional in the fields of wilderness therapy, outdoor education and addiction treatment, Jess has an adventurous spirit, a compassionate heart, a playful sense of humor, and a deep appreciation for the stories of those she meets along the way. Her connection with ceremony is a natural extension of the time she spends in the forests, rivers, mountains, and deserts she loves so much--and her commitment to rites of passage work reflects the empathy she feels for her fellow humans and all living beings.

  • Margaret Thompson

    Margaret lives in service to the wilderness that seeks expression in every aspect of being.  As a coach, mentor, guide, companion, and student she supports persons emerging into full expression of the extraordinary capacities and possibilities of human being unfolding and fully integrated with Nature and Spirit. Her work is in creating and facilitating experiences to evoke the innate wisdom that resides within.

  • Mark Oravsky

    The First Mile, a fasting program for veterans, was founded in April of 2014. Mark Oravsky, a 14-year Army Infantry veteran, experienced profound healing and change during a vision quest in the Kingston mountains of California. Prior to this experience, Mark struggled to find meaning and purpose after military service. He suffered from a litany of symptoms related to PTSD, including suicidal thoughts. His powerful experience in the wilderness paved the way for deep healing, a reconnection to self, renewed purpose, and a solid sense of identity.

  • Sam Burris DeBoskey

    Sam is a farmer, a council carrier, a carpenter-in-training, and a rite-of-passage guide.  He first came to the Owens Valley in 2006 as a participant in the SOLB's youth program.  Since then, he has made a part time home outside of Big Pine and has assisted and participated in a number of school programs.  His love of nature, both human and wild, has lead him to this work and fuels his curiosity to keep learning about how we relate to ourselves, each other, and the environment.  Some of his other interests are wr

  • Sara Harris, MA

    Sara Harris is a retired psychotherapist who now serves as a passionate guide and mentor. In 2003, she co-founded EarthWays LLC, a collective of guides in Sebastopol CA. Sara was deeply honored to serve the School of Lost Borders by being on the founding Board from 2007 to 2014. As a result of her own heart surgery journey, she loves offering consultations for other cardiac patients and offering support for how these health issues can offer a true opening of the heart through deep listening to the heart’s intelligence.

  • Scott Davidson

     Scott Davidson is a deep nature guide who cultivates an ecology of belonging through a unique weaving of wildlife tracking, tending and questing in community. As a lifelong guide, he nurtures the genius in each of us, one relationship, curiosity and threshold at a time. Scott deeply listens to the truth of the moments, helping people learn from all of wild life, both surrounding us and within us, and our inherent ability to live fully in balanced connection and service with all of life.

  • Siri Gunnarson

    Siri Gunnarson is a global pilgrim, council trainer and student of community. Interested in both new and ancient forms of learning, she has supported, created and lead journeys and rites of passage for youth. She has coordinated and participated in diverse projects around the world, including natural building ‘peace huts’ in Kenya and Tamera’s Global Campus, a cross-cultural educational initiative to study and create models for peaceful and regenerative living.

  • Susann Belz

    is a licensed therapist, a shamanic practitioner and a Vision Quest Guide. In 1996 she started her own school "Women and Earth" where she teaches ancient ways of shamanic healing. Through many different training's, especially women ways of knowing, she is focusing on bridging the ancient practice of shamanism into the Western world to assist with the challenges of our times. 

  • Yamin Chehin

    Is a Council trainer, facilitator, and doctor of Oriental Medicine, with intimate experience of nature-based and shamanic practices that inform her work with clients and groups, and help to integrate the healing potential implicit in our stories and our bodies. She facilitates councils in English and Spanish (her native language) for women, teen-age girls, and youth-at-risk, as well as with non-profits and community organizations.  She and her husband co-lead monthly couple’s circles, and practice Council at home with each other and their family.

Board of Directors

  • Charles Carlin

    Charles Carlin loves the wild landscapes of the American West and is deeply curious about how they work on our psyche and how we imagine the places in which we live and travel. He is currently working on a PhD in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dissertation considers what experiences like the contemporary vision fast ceremony can tell us about how our experience of self arises from relationship with our world.

  • Jay Fields

    Jay first fasted with the school in 2004, and fell head over heels in love with the ceremony and the Owen's Valley. For more than 18 years she has taught the principles of embodied self-awareness, whether in her role as a wilderness guide, a yoga teacher, a somatic coach or as a facilitator of professional development trainings.  Jay is the author of the books Teaching People, Not Poses and Home in Your Body, and is on the faculty for the Awakened Heart Embodied Mind Training in Santa Monica, California.

  • Kika Panaitescu

    Kika is a mother, writer, guide, and lifelong student of wisdom traditions. In the work of the School she found a confluence of her greatest loves: wild places and ceremony, humanness and the human journey, and the stories that knit them together. Raised among the big trees and falling waters of the Columbia River Gorge, Kika’s inner life was nourished early by the elemental world. Later, her outer life took shape in the company of radical creatives resisting the disaster of industrial capitalism.

  • Petra Lentz-Snow

    Wilderness Guide, part-time administrative support for the school's office, Board member and mother of 3 children, Petra is dedicated to support meaningful Rites of Passage in the wilderness and in the urban jungle of our humaness.  Truly taking one's place in the world has been (and continues to be) a life long inquiry and practice for her and is at the heart of her work.