The Journeymen website says, “Inspiring The Men of Tomorrow,” which is exactly what these guys are doing. Nicky Wilks, the Executive Director of Journeymen is 100% inspiring – we are so lucky to have this program here and we’re thrilled to tell you all about it!
VH: From where do you hail?
Nicky: Vashon, born and raised :)
VH: How did you land on Vashon?
Nicky: Well, I quite literally began my Earthly journey right here! My mom birthed me in my first bedroom on the Northwest side of the island. I re-landed here after a decade or so away at college, traveling the world, and having some fun in Southern California.
VH: Tell us all about Journeymen…
Nicky: Journeymen’s mission is to build compassionate, inspired and resilient young men through nature-based rites of passage, ongoing mentorship, and community engagement. In short, we aim to help young men reach their full potential, be more epic, and take steps toward living in harmony with themselves, their communities, and the Earth.
Our Spring and Summer Rites of Passage are truly life-changing experiences designed to welcome participants into a new story of life. These are held entirely outdoors and involve inter-generational mentorship with youth, apprentices, adults and elders. Using the power of personal story and transpersonal myth, we go deep into inner and outer nature, uncovering meaning and moving toward purpose. We try to stay away from advice-giving, lecture, and most other content.
Our school-based programs involved weekly meet-ups held in the Circle format, experiential learning activities, and occasional field trips. Held on campus during the school day, these courses offer boys and young men a much-needed break during their school day to unpack what is really going on in their lives, express themselves in a safe space, and grow their community of trusted peers and adults.
VH: What inspired you to start this program?
Nicky: My experience as a boy and young man. Today I look around me and I see hurt men hurting themselves, their families, and their environments. I grew up with the subtle conditioning that men aren’t supposed to cry, that the only two emotions we get permission to express are anger and happiness, and that violence is a valid way to solve problems. Unfortunately, I did pretty well playing the game for a while, but eventually I grew tired. Around the time we had our first child (a son), I knew it was time to create the framework for what would become Journeymen. As a Vashon native, and now as a teacher and mentor here, I feel like I have a very solid understanding of what it means to be an adolescent in our community. Hearing of what was happening in our absence, I think it prompted Alex and I to return and get it going without any hesitation.
VH: What is your superpower?
VH: When you have company visiting the island, where do you like to take them?
Nicky: Lisabuela and May Kitchen.
VH: What’s next for Journeymen?
Nicky: We’re bringing our school-based CIRCLES into Seattle next year, and partnering with urban change-makers to get regular cross-cultural exchanges happening, bringing our groups into the cities and getting their folks out into nature. We also just applied for a large round of grants, which can finally get some folks paid for all of their hard work. Onward!
VH: What’s the best thing you ever bought at Granny’s? 🙂
Nicky: Tough call. I have a canvas hat that I scored for $5 that has become a new favorite… I think I’ll go with that for now :)
Thank you Nicky – for all you do for our community! You can learn more about Journeymen on their website.