Vision Quest- Michigan

“The vision quest for me was an amazing adventure.  It truly helped to shift my path in the direction I hoped for without the fear of “what if”!   I loved how it quieted my mind on the mountain and amazingly that chatter has not returned.  Clearness truly comes from my heart not my head, I love that!  Thank you again for making this all possible!!!”  -Mary Lou, Arizona



Vision Quest: Manitou Island, Michigan.  Sept. 8-15, 2018.

Join fellow seekers Sept. 8-15, 2018 for this powerful week of soul-visioning and self-discovery on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan.  Led by Jeff Nixa and assisted by Jessica Merwin, the vision quest is a rare opportunity to experience one of the classic spiritual practices of our ancestors in a safe and heart-opening wilderness setting far from the noise and stress of city life, phones and TV.  Manitou Island is a national wilderness area, part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Michigan.

A “vision quest” is an ancient spiritual practice to clarify one’s purpose and direction in life, a classic rite of passage common to many indigenous societies worldwide.  (See vision quest page for more.) This week-long program includes group preparation and support for two days and nights of solo fasting and prayer on the island, to connect deeply with nature, receive healing, and get clarity on some question, struggle, or situation in one’s life.  This program is ideal for persons navigating a big decision, a school, work or life transition, a relationship change or loss, spiritual questioning, or just feeling stuck, stagnant or uncertain in life.  Teachings and preparation are rooted in the time-tested spiritual wisdom of indigenous cultures in North America, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.

Here’s a short video that explains the vision quest tradition, and process:


The Vision Quest Week

This Manitou Island vision quest is a camping-based program. We first gather on the mainland at a beautiful private home/property close to our ferry departure at Leland, MI.  We enjoy introductions around a sacred outdoor fire, a sweat lodge ceremony, spend the night there, then pack up the next morning and take a ferry from Leland over to S. Manitou Island.

We land on the Island, make a modest hike to our group campsite on the island bay, set up our tents, and spend several days exploring the land and getting familiar with the wildlife, weather and ecosystem.  Group sessions around the campfire will teach participants about the vision quest tradition, the inner preparation and ritual process necessary for a powerful and safe solo-quest experience.  On the fourth day individuals head out alone for the core, solo-quest portion of the experience, up to 48 hours of fasting and prayer alone in nature.  After this solo quest time participants return to base camp, eat, rest, and then process their individual experiences together, clarifying the visions gained and the new directions forward for each person’s life.  A powerful closing ceremony integrates the entire week’s experience around a ceremonial fire under the stars.  The final day together is a relaxing recovery time of packing up, taking the ferry back to the mainland, and enjoying the quaint tourist/fishing village of Leland before heading home.

Participants all share base-camp meals, group activities, cleanup/chores, and ceremony together. Average health and mobility are necessary for this program, but wilderness camping experience is not required.  We provide all the information you need to prepare for, and have, a safe and powerful experience on the island including:

  • A detailed camping gear list and clothing packing list (you bring your own tent or borrow one)
  • Detailed information about camping/meals, water, climate, weather, wildlife, and more
  • A series of preparatory video tutorials on this particular program, and a recommended reading/viewing list about the vision quest tradition in indigenous cultures worldwide
  • Skilled, experienced guidance on basic outdoor skills, safety measures, and peaceful relations with the island wildlife.
Program Leader

Jeff Nixa brings a lifetime of outdoor experience and 30+ years’ professional work in health care, spiritual care and counseling to this program.  (See About Jeff page.)  His teachers in nature-based spiritual wisdom include Sandra Ingerman, Mikkal Smith, Harner Foundation faculty, teachers in the Amazon jungle and Andes mountains, Lakota spiritual elders from the Great Plains, and Cree elders in Canada.

Jeff’s outdoor/wilderness program leadership includes:

  • Leader, Terlingua TX Vision Quest (Feb. 2017)
  • Leader, Manitou Island MI Vision Quest, Crow’s Nest USA (2015)
  • Advanced Wilderness First Aid Certification: National Outdoor Leadership School/NOLS/WMI (2015), and Wilderness Medical Associates (2018)
  • Assistant Guide, Renewal in the Wilderness Tours (2010-12)
  • Vision Quests (3)- Manitou Island, MI (2009-15)
  • Sea kayaking/training/coursework on Lake Huron, Michigan and Superior
  • Years of wilderness camping, canoeing, and backpacking in BWCA in Minnesota/Canada, Isle Royale and Yellowstone National Parks


“Your energy and wisdom have guided us all through an extraordinary process of self-discovery that we will never forget, and will nourish our souls for the rest of our lives. From my work in the corporate world I know how hard it is to pull these sorts of events off, yet you have made it look effortless…the extent of your preparation, your knowledge and experience… and your complete belief in the power of the work you do.”  -Giles Newman, British Columbia


Registration and Fees:
  • Early bird registration is $495. if deposit received by April 15th, 2018.*
  • Regular registration fee is $550. if deposit received after March  30th.*
  • 50% of the full program fee (nonrefundable) is due upon acceptance to hold your spot.  Balance due by July 30th, 2018
  • Registration fee includes full tuition for the program, campsite fees, and group supplies/coffee.  Does not include Leland ferry to the island ($40. round trip), or your own travel to/from Cedar, MI (see below for travel info).



Participants arrange their own transportation to and from our group meetup point in Cedar, MI.    The nearest airport is Cherry Capital Airport in nearby Traverse City, MI for those who choose to fly.  (Carpool/shuttle available from airport to our meetup point.)  Full transportation information and program details are provided in the program materials, with additional travel support from Jeff and Jessica.  Contact Jeff for additional information.


Registration Process:
  • Download the Manitou Application Form here and email it back to Jeff per the instructions.  (If you have trouble with the download just email Jeff for an application at )
  • Jeff will contact you for a time to chat and share more about the program and answer any additional questions.
  • Upon acceptance, you will be invoiced for 50% of the full program tuition to hold your spot.   The balance of your tuition is due July 30th, 2018.


“Jeff’s teachings, guidance and preparation for the vision quest were invaluable.  The amount of stillness during the quest is simply profound.  There were times I struggled with my mind, boredom, hunger, and other times I felt immense peace and love towards myself and all beings. I sat with the elements for two days and two nights, and during that time they seeped into my bones and soul, and will always be a part of me. As I ended my journey I couldn’t help but feel a wise old sage had awakened in me, and I feel more connected to all things, people and places. I am forever grateful and forever changed.  Thank you.”  -Jessica Merwin, Michigan.