About School of Lost Borders

For over 40 years, the School of Lost Borders has provided vision fasts, guide trainings, and other programs that offer initiatory, transformational experiences to those seeking growth, insight, and restoration. Our participants are of various ages, lifestyles, and cultures.

Our headquarters are in Payahuunadü, also known as the Owens Valley in California, which is ancestral and contemporary land of the Nüümü and Newe people. Our courses expand from the deserts of California, New Mexico, and Arizona, to the Rocky Mountains, to diverse landscapes across continents. Please visit our Cultural Relations page for more information about the School's commitment to regenerative relationships with people and place.

The School of Lost Borders has an organizational model of representational governance that incorporates guides, administration, and Board perspectives in its decision-making and evolving vision.

The School resides in the living room of each guide and on the land of each basecamp.

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Our Roots reach back to the civil rights and environmental movements of the 1960's which called out the need for initiated adults and elders. This led Steven Foster and Meredith Little to reintroduce modern day nature based rites of passage.

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We deeply trust the wisdom of the land, the ceremony, and the innate beauty and wholeness of every human. Our nature based initiation ceremonies and programs support profound transformations individually and collectively.

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We believe in generosity and accessibility. Thanks to our donors, not a single person is turned away for lack of funds. Please support our efforts to offer programs and trainings to everyone called to this ceremony. Donate today to continue the legacy of the School of Lost Borders.

ADMINISTRATION

JO BOTELHO

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Jo Botelho (she/they) serves as half of the administrative team and the School’s Finance & Communications Manager. Based in Payahuunadü,  ‘the land of flowing water’ and the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of the Nüümü and Newe peoples, Jo has remembered their deep belonging to the land. A mother and a multidisciplinary creative, Jo left the bustling San Francisco Bay Area to make home with her family among the granite, pine, volcanic tuff, and sage brush. They came to the School of Lost Borders in the spring of 2020 and have since developed a vast love for the School, its community, and the fascinating and necessary work.

KAYLA DOUGLASS

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Kayla Marie Namakakoa Douglass (She/Her) is half of the Administrative team! She is a pansexual woman who enjoys all things crafty and creative in her off time. Kayla has a deep love for creatures and often can be found at home with the two animals with whom she coexists. She is a full time student at SDSU (indigenous to the Kumeyaay people) studying small business management and currently works, lives, and creates in Payahüünadü, the land of flowing water. Kayla acknowledges the Nüumü and Newe first peoples of this sacred land. The School of Lost Borders found Kayla two years ago and since then, she has fallen deeply in love with the ceremony. Kayla is honored and always grateful to be a part of this community. 

The board

Leslie freeman

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Leslie Freeman, is profoundly inspired by, and a student of the wilderness rights of passage, mirroring, and council work of the School. She believes in its power to help human-created systems become more coherent with living systems. She is the co-founder of Fearless Unlimited, a brand transformation and social impact agency. She works with leaders and teams to unlock opportunity and promote socially beneficial outcomes. Her extensive expertise comes from two decades leading efforts for brands such as Apple, Twitter, NPR, and The Nature Conservancy as well as for movements and organizations in social justice, climate, biodiversity, mental health, and gender equity. Her work is insight-and narrative-driven, leaning into social psychology and the power of story to create nonlinear breakthroughs and cultural regeneration. Leslie is passionate about the connection between nature and the human psyche, a meditator, endlessly curious about life, and loves to cook for friends.

Cary Gaunt

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Cary is thrilled to have joined the Board of the School of Lost Borders. She completed her first program with the School in 2003, and has trained with, assisted, and joined numerous programs with the School. Her affiliation with the School has been life changing. Cary describes herself in this way:

Two great loves comprise the heart of who I am and the work I do in the world. One is a profound connection with the earth forged by my childhood on a small farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and honed through a lifetime of listening to the land, exploring and living in natural places. The other is a deep spirituality comprised of contemplative and nature-based practices, spiritual discernment, and wilderness rites of passage. I bring these two great loves together in my work as a sustainability leader and contemplative practitioner and teacher. My commitment is to support organizations and individuals in moving beyond sustainability to restoration and flourishing.

Rachael Knight

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Rachael Knight, is an attorney with expertise in land tenure security, access to justice, legal empowerment and sacred sites. She is currently a "Senior Associate" at the International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED). She helped to found Namati, a global legal empowerment organization that helps disenfranchised communities to understand, use, and shape the law. She created Namati’s Community Land Protection Program, then served as its Director from 2012-2017 and as its Senior Advisor from 2018-2019. In this capacity, together with land rights advocates throughout Africa, she co-created an integrated model of community land protection that is now practiced around the world. She has worked as a consultant for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations continuously since 2004. From 2009 until 2018, she supported women's rites of passage work in Northern California (https://treeoflifeinitiation.org/). A graduate of Brown University and Berkeley Law, she recently completed a Masters degree in ethnobotany; her dissertation focused on the role of ceremony and ritual in conservation of sacred natural sites.