Hero’s Journey of Optimal Childhood Development
Part 3: Return Home
Peace Guardians is a shared vision of certified educators, parents, community leaders, entrepreneurs and artists that believe that NOW, more than ever, the planet is calling for a new generation of heart-centered leaders. Our team was brought together by a mutual passion for youth empowerment and a shared concern around the problems youth are facing today. We believe the way in which youth are educated is a gamechanger for bringing about true global change.
With the rise of technology, we have seen a rise in social and emotional disconnect. Our education system as a whole does not meet this growing epidemic. The traditional schooling system is based on old industrial philosophies that promote mechanical learning and does not meet each child's unique blueprint and creative expressions. The system as a whole also undervalues its teachers who must be empowered to express their gifts and not pigeonholed to an outdated system that simply no longer serves our collective optimal potential.
We envision a global network of empowered educators that partner together with students. We envision a system that nurtures emotional intelligence and self-development of the whole child. After three years of visioning and beta testing, Peace Guardians has devised three programs that exist to serve as solutions for systemic issues in education, community relations, and youth sports. We believe these issues must be not only addressed but remedied once and for all for a thriving humanity to be realized.
At our core, we believe that each child has brilliant stories to share and new worlds to create. We have built the Guardians Quest to nurture this power and steward the whole child on their quest for self-discovery. Inspired by Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey archetype, we have broken down the Journey's stages into 8 corresponding values. This interactive quest is the foundation of our organization and outlines the structure of each of our programs.
Each value or stage is filled with games, themes, activities, missions et all that are designed to bring the lessons to life in an embodied, experiential and tangible way. The objective is to playfully and intentionally unearth the unique passions, wonders and creative gifts of its participants. We have taken great care to create this engaging program that serves to meet the unique blueprint of each student.
8 Stages of The Guardians Quest
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ―Maya Angelou
Stage 1 WONDER (Call to Adventure):
“Wonder is the beginning of Wisdom. “ Socrates
Our Quest begins with wonder. A child enters the world with fresh eyes. Untainted by cerebral inundation and mechanical learning, a child moves through the world with an adventurous heart and thirst for discovery. This sense of wonder often gets pummeled out us by society/education and what once was fresh and sparkling with life, can turn dull, boring and meaningless.
This inherent thirst for life is a sacred gift. As with all stages along our journey, we must learn to harness our innate gifts by nurturing them. In order to leave the secure confines of the known ordinary world, we must answer the call to adventure and open ourselves up to a brand new world. This willingness to adventure leads us down a road past our edges and outside the boundaries of the status quo. We must allow ourselves to explore that something more and move into the unknown. As we move further along our journey, we will discover that our wonders hold invaluable keys to unlocking our deepest treasures within.
Stage 2 TRUST (Mentors/Guides).
“There is always one true inner voice. Trust it “ Gloria Steinem
Now that we have set sail on our adventure, we must make a choice. Go back to the known, ordinary world of comfort and security or walk forward into the unknown. If we decide to move onward, we must now develop and refine our inner trust. This stage is supported by allies and mentors that help illuminate our path ahead. We learn about the art of mentorship and that every great teacher must first learn to be a great student.
We cannot fully trust others until we trust ourselves in the same way we cannot truly love others until we first love ourselves. Trusting inner guidance and allowing support from wise mentors in this stage are key. We must feel we are supported, safe and guided on our Quest. For without this felt sense of inner trust, our very allies can appear to be enemies and the inevitable trials and tribulations that await us can appear to be too daunting. We take great care to develop the trust of oneself in this stage as we will need every bit of it to move forward on our Quest.
Stage 3 CREATIVITY (Crossing the Threshold)
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself; do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” Bruce Lee
As we move through the first door and inch our way closer to the extraordinary world that awaits us, we must expand our capacity for authentic creative expression. Rooted in trust and wonder, our creativity will need to blossom as we are no longer confined to do things the way we have always done them. We must learn to express ourselves outside our comfort zones. We will learn to embrace the art of intelligent risk-taking and healthy experimentation. We are entering an extraordinary world and must learn how to express ourselves in innovative and creative ways.
Stage 4 PASSION (Following Our Bliss)
“Follow your Bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell
Now that we have entered the extraordinary world, there is no turning back. With this level of commitment to discovering the why behind our initial spark/call to adventure, we must awaken to our true passions. This stage is all about allowing our greatest joys to guide us onward. We will learn to harness that which inspires us and brings us most alive.
Here, we identify our innate passions and how to best express them in the world. We learn what we care most deeply about and how to harness it with clear intentionality. By honor our passions for their essential place in our lives and "following our bliss", we are able to tap into the fuel we will need to carry past the dragons that likely await us on our Quest.
Stage 5 VULNERABILITY (Innermost Cave)
“The Cave You Fear to Enter Holds the Treasure You Seek.” Joseph Campbell.
This stage is all about opening ourselves up to be seen in our most raw and authentic self. It's about learning that what we fear most is actually the gateway to our greatest treasures. We will learn that our perceived weaknesses are actually our greatest strengths. We will learn about the wisdom of beginner's mind and how to embrace being a lifelong learner.
As we approach the cave, all the values and lessons we have cultivated so far will be our greatest allies. This stage is also known as the Great Ordeal. Deep down in our subconscious, we all have our own personal battles. This stage is about learning the universality and humanity of these battles. We will learn that these battles are not our enemies. We will learn to embrace our most vulnerable spaces for the sacred gifts they truly are.
Stage 6 COURAGE (Dragons)
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently." Maya Angelou
The dragons within us are the egoic fears and doubts that we often run away from and end up heavily ruling our lives and choices. By moving forward on our Quest, our fears often bubble to the surface and this is our opportunity to face them. We must invoke the courage to walk through our fears, share authentically from the heart and be unafraid to express our true feelings.
We will learn to develop a sense of poise under pressure. We will learn to identify our inner dragons and how they affect our day to day life. Similar to the innermost cave, our dragons are to be embraced and harnessed for a greater good.
Stage 7 VISION (Treasure)
“I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Walt Disney
Having befriended our dragons, we earn our greatest inner treasures. We awaken to the unique vision that has been embedded in us all along. We will learn to trust our vision and move confidently in the direction of our dreams. We now have a responsibility to bring our treasures back home where we started.
Stage 8 PURPOSE (Road Back and Return Home)
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” ―Oprah Winfrey
Now we have returned home to where our journey began. We have aligned with who we are and the larger purpose that exists within. This return home is nothing of the ordinary. Although our surroundings may be similar, we have transformed from within and thus everything is fresh and new. We are now aligned with our deeper purpose and show up in our fullest expression of who we truly are. This is the greatest service we can provide and the deeper meaning beneath it all.
“No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself.” ―Denis Waitley
We believe youth are creative visionaries and must have more platforms to be heard. After completion of a full one-year Guardians Quest, the journey continues with the Kindred Quest. The Kindred Quest is about learning how to work in collaboration with others towards a greater good. Students are teamed up with like-minded allies to tackle real-world issues and harness their collective gifts.
Working with aligned sponsors and large events, youth are given the opportunity to share insights and visions for a more harmonious planet. This program empowers youth to turn their ideas into action. The focus is on project-based learning that creates tangible solutions for our communities and planet. The projects range but are not limited to social, educational and environmental issues.
Our signature flow-state game offers a refreshing alternative to hyper-competitive, often dangerous and traumatic youth sports. The mission of KinFlow is to help change the culture of youth sports from dominance over (Unhealthy Competition) to collective empowerment and flow (Healthy Competition/Collaboration). It’s Core Values are Honor, Collaboration, Discipline, Play, and Courage.
The name is broken down as Kin meaning one's relations and Flow meaning harmonious motion. Together the name means to move harmoniously with one's relations. KinFlow was literally birthed from the flow state. Playing simple games of catch with my friends, I realized that we could stay in a flow together for hours without getting tired or bored. I noticed that we could increase each other's sharpness without trying to defeat the other person. I fell in love with the beauty and balletic dance of the game in ways I hadn't experienced since I was a 7-year-old boy dribbling a basketball for the first time. The joy that I allowed to be stripped away, came rushing back and with it, all the familiar feelings of my youth that I missed so dearly. After a few months of playing the game for hours almost every day with friends, I decided it was time to bring the different components of the game to our enrichment programs.
Though the game was admittedly raw and unpolished, children immediately became drawn to its principles of collaboration, play, and flow. I knew we had a winner. Over the coming months, I continued to develop the game with the help of direct feedback from kids, friends, and colleagues. A series of principles and structures emerged from these experimental months with the flow being our north star. I humbly believe KinFlow has all of the ingredients to become a worldwide phenomenon that emphasizes collective flow states in ways that traditional team sports rarely does. The vision for the game is grand, multi-faceted and filled with passion. I invite you to come on this journey with us and "Get Kin the Flow."
Healthy Competition/Collaboration as defined in KinFlow is when players honor their opponents by helping to build up the level of challenge and bring out the best in each other. The enjoyment of the game increases when others are playing fair, together and giving it their all.
Unhealthy Competition as defined by KinFlow is when players use the game as a means to enforce dominance over other players and try to bring others down.
The main objective of KinFlow is to connect with other players in such a way that the energy promotes regenerative cycles for sustainable, prolonged and collective flow states. This Aikido art of flowing/harmonizing with incoming energy and redirecting it back to your partner or the collective is the very essence of the game. The game is not about outcomes or us vs them mentality. Without having to enforce dominance over others, we free ourselves from outdated shackles. In this way, fluidity and authentic creative expression within the structure move to the forefront. Quite simply, it’s about the joy of fully immersing into the Eternal Now. This is the true Way of The Peaceful Guardian and how to “Get Kin the Flow.”
Now our Journey returns us back home. We set sail on our adventure with the essential premise that children do not seek timeless play to escape the real world but rather to enter it. If this premise is true, the application will often be easier then one may first believe. If children are drawn to this intuitive, experiential way of learning, then the job of educators and parents is to harness this natural current of life force. It is not a permaculturist job to control the weather. It is their job to listen attentively to the cycles of nature and create systems that harness it. Wind turbines ability to receive kinetic wind currents and regenerate the energy into electricity or hydroelectric water power dams are just a few analogous examples. We are not creating the water or the wind but rather harnessing it with clear intentionality. The same principles hold true with the kinetic playful drive within children. They are born with this gift of play and just like the wind turbines or dams, we must learn how to harness it for the benefit of all.