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Frequently Asked Questions


Why do our programs cost what they do?

We price our offerings to be as affordable as possible while still enabling the financial survival and blossoming of Animas Valley Institute, a nonprofit organization. Our fees support our small part-time administrative staff, provide our highly skilled guides with a modest income, and meet our basic and essential expenses (which include liability insurance, public lands permits, retreat center fees, and meals on many of our programs).

What kind of camping equipment will I need for an Animas wilderness-based program?

We provide a comprehensive equipment list as part of the preparation package we send you. While the packing list for certain programs may contain a few differences depending on the location and nature of the program, our general lists can be found below. Call us or email if you would like more information about equipment before making your decision.

If I will be fasting, will I get so hungry or weak I might get sick?

First of all, fasting is a component only on our Quests, and even then it is optional although strongly encouraged. If you do fast, you may experience stomach cramps, nausea, and discomfort. Some people are scarcely affected by fasting and others become weak and/or uncomfortable. While many have found fasting difficult, no one has ever become seriously ill as a result of fasting on our programs. Our protocol for initiating and breaking the fast has been developed over 20 years with the help of physicians and other healthcare professionals.

What happens if I get hurt or sick in the wilderness?

Your leaders are seasoned wilderness guides who carry state-of-the-art first-aid equipment and are trained in wilderness medicine. While Animas has had no significant injuries in 24 years, we are prepared to offer the best care possible in the event of accident or illness.

What kind of food do you serve?

Most meals at retreat centers and in the backcountry are vegetarian, made from natural and wholesome ingredients. We purchase organic, locally-grown food as much as possible.

What about transportation?

You are responsible for your own transportation.  For retreat center programs, this means just getting yourself to and from the retreat center.  For quests, it may involve getting yourself to and from the retreat center as well as the backcountry location for the quest. Most of the locations where we hold our programs are at least a few hours from any major airport, and public transportation is not usually an option, so many participants choose to carpool in order to share the costs.  Once a program is officially confirmed, we send out a contact list so folks can communicate about carpooling.

Can I come with my partner, family members, or friend?

For our more fierce and intense offerings (e.g., Animas Quests, Yearlong Immersions, Sweet Darkness, and most other Advanced Intensives) we ask couples, family members, or best friends to not attend together.

Sometimes partners, family members, or close friends attend the same Soulcraft Intensive, Wild Mind Intensive, or other less advanced immersions (e.g. Romancing the World, Prayers in the Dark, Nature and the Human Soul, Council and Mirroring, Art and Soul, Spider Silk in Moonlight, Writing the Wild Soul). Though usually not the best way to experience an Animas Intensive, but for practical purposes it’s sometimes the only way or much more affordable, and partners do naturally want to share intense and transformative experiences. We do welcome couples, family members, or best friends who want to attend our less advanced immersions. The reason why it can be less than ideal is that the primary person in our lives who “anchors” our current identity or life story is usually our partner, parent, or best friend. Soulcraft is underworld work and the goal, in part, is to loosen our attachment to our current life story so we might glimpse something of the mysterious image or story we were born to embody in this lifetime as a gift to others. This can be much more difficult when the experience is being shared with someone whose life story overlaps significantly with our own. Because of unavoidable dynamics, we suggest to partners, family members, or best friends attending room separately, not sit next to each other in group, and not “compare notes.”

Do I need wilderness and/ or backpacking experience?

Animas programs can be physically and psychologically challenging, but previous experience in the wilderness is unnecessary. Half of our programs are held at retreat centers and involve no camping. On our wilderness-based programs, more than half of our participants have never previously been camping. Some of our Quests and other programs employ a drive-to-basecamp format in which neither backpacking nor special physical fitness is required.

How do I prepare myself for an Animas program?

Once we receive your deposit and completed registration form, we will send you a preparation package that includes specific suggestions for physical, emotional, and spiritual preparation, travel information, and a comprehensive equipment list if that is relevant to the your program.

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