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About the Association for Wilderness Engagment

The Association for Wilderness Engagement was founded to provide immersive outdoor experiences that seek to deepen our connection to the web of life and our sense of place in the universe. We are presently seeking Non-Profit Status with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and 501(c)3 status from the U. S. Internal Revenue Service. 

Our Mission

Our mission is to rekindle intimacy with our more-than-human world by creating opportunities to engage in immersive outdoor experiences that deepen our connection to the interdependent web of life and reveal a sense of place in the unfolding story of our universe.

Our Vision

We believe rekindling intimacy with our more-than-human world is vital to our unfolding universe story. Every moment spent exploring our relationship with Earth, and our Cosmos can foster a spirit of reciprocity and stewardship that inspires us to write a story of renewal into our future. We envision a flourishing of communities inspired by our unfolding universe story to create a life of harmony, sustainability, and reciprocity with one another and our Earth.

Our Values

We recognize and affirm that all beings are interdependent and every life form has inherent worth and dignity, that humanity has the potential to live in reciprocity with compassion rooted in love in a flourishing Earth community, and that the needs of future generations qualify the freedom of action of each generation.

What We Do

“To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

Inspired by our vision, we put our mission and values into practice to promote wilderness spirituality, nature and forest therapy, and the unfolding story of our universe in a variety of ways which include, but are not limited to:

  1. Offering guided outdoor immersion experiences, like forest bathing, stargazing, and naturalist programs, etc.;

  2. Creating workshops, half-day, full-day, and multi-day retreats, as well as field trips and overnight backpacking trips for chapters, other organizations, and congregations; and

  3. Speaking engagements, pulpit supply, and worship services themed around the universe story, nature and forest therapy, and wilderness spirituality.


“There is no end to what a living world will demand of you.” ― Octavia E. Butler

In April 2016, I stepped out on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail taking about 5 million steps between Georgia and Maine on a personal journey to deepen my connection to the more-than-human world. Throughout my hike, I met people from all around the planet. Everyone's reasons varied for why they were on this half-year, 2200 mile trek, but almost every fellow hiker I met described having a profoundly spiritual experience along the way.

                                              Walking through pastures, meadows, and forests, over and around

                                              mountains and ridges, and along rivers, creeks, and waterfalls, I observed how interdependent our lives are with one another, our fellow Earthlings of all species, and with this planet herself. Each strand in the web of existence fascinated me and renewed a sense of awe I had not experienced since childhood. And when I stood beneath the night sky, my sense of place in our unfolding universe story astonished me as I gazed into the spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy arched across the dark mountain skies.

Wanting to share what I experienced with others, I founded the Association for Wilderness Engagement (A.W.E.).

My journey has taught me that rekindling intimacy with our more-than-human world is a vital step in our unfolding universe story. By inviting people to immerse in outdoor experiences, A.W.E. opens doors for creating a deeper connection. Every moment we explore our relationship with Earth and our Cosmos, we foster a spirit of reciprocity and stewardship that inspires us to write a story of renewal into our future. 

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Mary Oliver's poetry has been an inspiration to me. She once wrote, “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” A.W.E. is my way of telling about it. I hope you'll join us on this incredible adventure to reconnect with our beloved planet Earth and our Cosmic ancestry so that we may, in the words of Carl Sagan, “deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” I'll meet you outside.

Yaakov 'Trek' Reef

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