The learning cycle in the Hero's Journey

Type of tool: 
90-120 min
Topics addressed: 
Personal development

This is an experiential learning process based on a mix of outdoor experiences, group work and teambuilding. Its main inspirations are the “Monomyth” model developed by J. Campbell and nature-based experiences like the "Vision Quest".

  • to promote opportunities for self-reflection, connection with Nature and the deeper self – and learn how this can be used as a learning cycle 

The tool will be a shortened and adapted version of the whole structure. It will combine elements from different methodologies: a simulation exercise based on outdoor experiential learning, individual reflection, sharing in pairs and group, active listening and communication exercises. 

Step by step process: 

The experience will simulate step by step the “Monomyth” structure:  

  • leaving the ordinary world (individual reflection and sharing in group before leaving the room)
  • crossing the threshold (leaving the room and moving outside, in the natural environment)
  • meeting the Mentor (reflection and sharing on learning and coaching and why these figures are relevant in our life)
  • the road of challenges (outdoors, challenges and tests to be overcome individually or in group)
  • claiming the Reward (reflecting on the learning outcomes, and sharing them)
  • the Journey back home (input and sharing on how to choose what to bring home after a learning experience, what not, and how can we shape our own personal development in such cases)
  • Death and Rebirth (personal reflection and input. There can be no new beginning, without an end. How to manage change and develop a healthy approach to it in our lives). 
Materials and resources: 

There is no special material required: just an easy access to outdoors and if possible an area that is inspiring and rich with natural beauty. In extreme cases, even a small park or a garden will do. Part of the experience can be based on “blind walking”, but for that I will bring along enough blindfolds for a group of 20 people.  Depending on how the process will go we will also use, as support for the process, a specific deck of “coaching cards” with guiding questions for coaching and reflection and tarots as support for storytelling. 


The outcomes can vary much and are very personal in nature. Sometimes people focus more on the connection with Nature; for some it's a personal development experience and brings insights on change management, learning and life cycles; for others, the sharing and the authentic communication are the best highlights. It is always a rich and eye opening experience, with many different aspects to it.  My aim for this specific run of the module is to present it as a rich and complete model, used to represent any learning experience. 


With time and based on feedback from participants, I came to adapt the tool so to make it more inclusive and flexible.Advantages: outdoor time always bring nice vibes and good group building. Deep reflection and a wide potential of insights from very different disciplinesDisadvantages: the personal development sides of it can be overly challenging for some. When pushed to the extreme (for example, extending the experiential part to 24 hours and including a night spent out in the nature) the consequences are very hard to predict and risk assessment and health and safety measures have to be taken in consideration very carefully.   The potentialities are very wide, the tool can be used as a base for a whole week (or more) residential experience, or be scaled down to half a day.  

Notes for further use: 

The tool is very simple to adapt and use in different contexts. What I recommend strongly is to propose it to a group only if very confident about the methodologies. The model can be very challenging under the physical, psychological and possibly even spiritual point of view.  It is recommended that facilitators and guides use these methods only if fully aware about the risks and precautions connected to them. I write articles and collect stories and resources about the Hero's journey. You can start here: 

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