International Gatherings

Every few years, we come together with wilderness guides from all over the world. 
We've met in Germany, South Africa, the UK, United States, and in 2012 in the Ukraine.  Our next gathering will be in South Africa in September of 2014, see more information below: 

6th Intercontinental/International Gathering of Wilderness Guides
September 28th - October 5th, 2014 
in the area of Cape Town, South Africa

For more information on scholarships to support guides attending this gathering go to
For current updates by the South-African organizers go to:

Read the gathering articles from some of our members and see pictures from past gatherings below.

Past International Gatherings:

5th Intercontinental Gathering of Wilderness Guides
September 17- 23, 2012
Ukraine, Carpathian Mountains


4th International Gathering of Wilderness Guides
April 14th - 20th, 2009
Chiricahua Mountains, SE Arizona, USA

This event was co-sponsored by Global Rites of Passage, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and the Wilderness Guides Council. It was a successful event with about 120 people from 4 continents, 9 countries in attendance. It was decided that the next gathering would be held in September 2012 in the Ukraine. For more details - please visit



3rd International Wilderness Gathering
Integrating Nature and Humanity
9th -14th October 2006
Gaunts House, Wimborne, Dorset, UK


It was a time of council, dialogue, learning and teaching, ceremony, fun, music and exchange

We met at the lovely Gaunts House, a retreat center near Wimborne, Dorset

A report of the International Gathering in England will be posted soon. Many thanks are to be extended to Sue Sully and Chris Willton who, with the help of many others, hosted this coming together of guides from all over the world.

Countries represented, or at least mentioned in the opening ceremony, include: England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ukraine, Turkey, South Africa and the United States.

Here's a short report from the 2004  International Conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa:

2004 International Conference Report

We offer deep gratitude to Valerie Morris, Judy Bekker, and Elaine Millin for hosting this rich event!

The 2nd International Wilderness Guides Conference opened on Monday the 13th of October, 2004.  Its venue was the Okkie Jooste Youth Camp outside of Stellenbosch in the beautiful wine country of South Africa's Cape Town region.  The Conference started with a powerful opening ceremony that was held outside near the stream that ran through the property.  Representatives from each country present, Austria, Canada, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.A, invoked the blessings of their ancestors.  It closed with an invocational blessing ceremony performed by a ungaba from South Africa.

We then moved inside the big lodge to sit in council and share the objects we were asked to bring for a give away that represented either our work, our land, or our gift.  These stayed on the altar throughout the Conference.

The next day we used the Open Space Technology (OST) format to facilitate the opportunity for anyone to lead a discussion about any subject they were most interested in. The next day, six one-hour time slots were made available, with perhaps 5-8 offerings per session.  Notes were taken for most of them, a link to which you will find at the end of this review.

It was clear from the discussions from the day before, that the major areas of interest were women's/men's issues, and youth/elders issues.  So we sat in fishbowl councils to be able to witness one another.  The women's fishbowl council asked the question, "What is up for you in your life?"  The afternoon's session brought focus on the Youth, with presentations from Educo Africa.  Both leaders and participants took turns in the fishbowl council and shared the impact this work has had on their lives.  The leaders were asked: "What is the work that we do?  What are your achievements? and What are the difficulties that you encounter?"  The youth were asked to speak from wherever they wanted to speak.  That night there was a lively mini-expo to showcase the variety and specialties of our participants.

On Thursday, we opened with a fishbowl council for the men who shared their answers to the questions, "What is it to be a man in the world? and What are the challenges that you face?"  In the afternoon, there were three sessions of 2 hour workshops or an optional hike.

Friday, there was a very moving presentation on the outreach Educo is doing with HIV/AIDS.  That evening we celebrated with a special dinner (and dessert!), dancing the night away to a fantastaic native band.  There were 5 members: 3 men and 2 women.  They played the finger marimbas, jdembes, kudu horns! and danced.  You couldn't NOT dance to that beat!

The final ceremony was a large council where we each took something from the altar.  We shared why we were taking that object and what our intention was to carry this work forward.  It is mysterious and exciting to see some objects return to the altar that were there in Titisee Germany and continue to link new hearts and homelands.

Click here to download the OST Summaries. (PDF file)

It was decided that the next International Gathering will be hosted by
Chris Willton and Sue Sully with the help of others in the U.K. in 2006.


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