CA Month-Long Training


Jun 12th, 2024 - Jul 14th, 2024 | Inyo Mountains - Big Pine, California | Betsy Perluss, Angelo Joseph Lazenka, Petra Lentz-Snow, Meredith Little, Kim Belair

*Pre-requite for this program is having completed a guided 3 or 4-day/night vision fast. Need not have been with the School of Lost Borders.

For forty years the School of Lost Borders has offered a unique training for students, therapists, activists, teachers, community workers, and guides interested in deepening their understanding and experience in the principles of the modern-day vision fast.  Although this training supports those who choose to creatively transform and adapt this work to a variety of settings, our teachings remain rooted in the core tradition of wilderness rites of passage; namely four days and nights of fasting alone in a wilderness place, and returning with a “vision” in service to one’s community. 

The month-long intensive is designed for those who seek to explore and develop their vocation as wilderness guides within the tradition of the School of Lost Borders.  Participants are given the opportunity and mentorship to fully immerse themselves in the ceremonial and practical aspects of modern-day wilderness rites of passage that have evolved – and continues to evolve – throughout years of experimentation and practice, and have been passed down through the teaching of our elders.

Over the years we have expanded the comprehensiveness of this training while maintaining its grounded, experiential base. Covering a wide range of relevant themes throughout the month, the essence of the teaching will emerge from our relationship with the land, where the eternal wisdom of these rites continues to inform us, reflecting the underlying movement and dynamism of all life. We also recognize that the land is inseparable from its people and that the history of colonization of this specific place must inform our teaching and responsibility to foster right relationship with the people and places we inhabit.   

Our group will camp together in a remote area located in the White-Inyo Mountains, in the traditional lands of the Paiute people.  This high desert landscape of juniper-pinion woodlands is situated 13 miles outside the small town of Big Pine in the Owens Valley, known by the Paiute as Payahuunadü, “the land where water flows”.

Most days will include time together in council, as well as solo time on the land, exploring the themes of the day. The apprentice-trainee must play two roles: that of initiate and that of field therapist, naïve participant and knowing professional. The experiences of initiatory activity on the land will inform and illumine the subject matter of the teaching.

Trainees will have the opportunity to learn from a rotating team of highly experienced guides and teachers from Lost Borders throughout the month, culminating in a four-day personal vision fast.


Topics will include but not be limited to:

  • the theory and foundations of rites of passage
  • inclusivity and intersectionality in wilderness rites of passage
  • the risks of cultural misappropriation and cultural shadows
  • the history and lineage of the School of Lost Borders and its continual evolving
  • the barebones of our practice including:
    • the four shields of human nature
    • self-generated ceremony and the role of threshold-crossing
    • shaping and honing of intent as a foundation for threshold experiences
    • the practice of story-telling and mirroring
    • the centrality of nature as teacher and mirror
    • council practice
  • rites of passage as dying practice
  • the role of the guide
  • the significance of the symbolic, mythic, and archetypal themes that show up in story, dream, and nature.
  • the screening and preparation of candidates
  • supporting a candidate’s physical/psychological/mental/spiritual safety
  • variations on traditional and contemporary models of wilderness vision fasts
  • working with specific populations including youth
  • the all-important topic of incorporation and appropriateness of this work to the challenges of our world today.

Prerequisite:  Participation in at least one guided 3 or 4 day Vision Fast.

How to Enroll:


 For further information or questions contact Betsy Perluss– [email protected], or contact The School of Lost Borders – [email protected].



TUITION: $3,000 - $9,000

Sliding Scale: To honor the vast difference of financial resources among us, all of our program tuition is based on a sliding scale. We set forth no criteria and ask that you pay what is appropriate for your circumstances and access to financial resources. You can see recommendations on using the sliding scale here. If the low end of the sliding scale is still too much, scholarship assistance is available , please reach out to the office for more info.

Cancellations: Cancellations are hard on the participant, the School, and the guides. We respect the unpredictability of life, and we are diligent about running an organization sustainably.

-If you cancel 60 or more days prior to the start date of your program, you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If you cancel 59 days or less prior to the start date of your program, and we can fill your spot, then you will receive a full refund of any tuition paid, minus any deposits.

-If we cannot fill your spot, and you cancel within 59 days of the start of your program, then we hold you accountable for paying the tuition at the lowest end of the sliding scale.

Submit enrollment form

 Please fill out and submit the enrollment form and then pay the program deposit below. Before you pay the deposit, please read deposit section below, all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. After your enrollment form is complete, please submit all health and liability forms.

Pay program deposit

Deposits: This deposit signifies your commitment to the program and is deducted from the tuition balance. All deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable. They cover the work of the specific course you signed up for, including all communication involved as well as the fee that guides pay to the school administration for the course accounting. 

Additional Deposit: Some programs require a second deposit to help us affirm commitments. Last minute cancellations make it hard to fill openings and incur a loss of income to the School and the guides.

Tuition Balance: Balance of tuition can be paid before or upon arrival. Simply deduct any deposits made from the amount you’ve chosen on the sliding scale.

Submit Waitlist form

This program is full; however, you may add your name to the Waitlist by clicking the Waitlist button below.

Additional course details & Materials


Please plan to arrive by the afternoon of June 12th. We will complete our training around 12PM on July 14th. Additional information will be provided upon enrollment.

ADDITIONAL FEES: Camping fees: for the entire month cost $200 per individual. These rates are based on what the Inyo National Forest Service charges us for the use of the land and is subject to change.

Second Tuition Payment: As a sign of your commitment, and to insure we have a full group, we are requesting that you make a second non-refundable payment of $800 by March 1st, 2024

You will be responsible for bringing your own food and equipment, though we can provide some gear if needed. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently. You will need to bring shelter and clothing suitable for a full range of inclement weather.

You will be responsible for bringing your own food and equipment, though we can provide some gear if needed. We ask everyone to come prepared to live self-sufficiently. You will need to bring shelter and clothing suitable for a full range of inclement weather. 

All participants must submit the required health questionnaire and liability form.

If you have questions about the enrollment process contact us at [email protected] or call 760-938-3333.

Required reading for this training includes The Trail to the Sacred Mountain Handbook, which contains information on flora, fauna, weather, emergency procedures and other related information, as well as suggestions for preparing for the vision fast you will be doing the second half of the training.

Also, highly recommended is The Roaring of the Sacred River, a training manual for “field eco-therapy”, and the recently published, The School of Lost Borders: A Love Story, a deeply moving account of the history of the School told by Meredith Little.

All publications are available at Lost Borders Press.

We will gather in the eastern mountains of Payahuunadü (also known as the Inyo Mountains outside of Big Pine, California). These are the ancestral and contemporary lands of the Nüümü and Newe people.

To learn more about our commitment to regenerative relationships please visit Cultural Relations.