Rite of Passage started as a small company focused on helping kids… and that is what we still do today.

History 01


A Psychiatric Technician at Napa State Hospital, Dave Maguire noticed that youth placed under the hospital’s care didn’t respond to the “Medical Model” — the traditional treatment at the time which included seclusion and psychotropic medication. He believed that an innovative approach– getting kids back to the basics– could offer them a greater chance of recovery.

Maguire was intrigued by the challenge to help at-risk youth in an innovative way that challenged the contemporary and ineffective practices. His vision led to the birth of “Rite of Passage” as a group home for 12 male youth in the “Wimbleton House”, located in the Sierra Nevada Range where Maguire’s two premises of relationships and experiential learning guided youth to better outcomes.

History 03


While youth in the program learned to play tennis, cycle and ski, they began to realize their own untapped potential in life. Maguire made a point to replace their medications with real-life experiences and athletics in the natural world. The practice seemed to work.

As the 1980’s progressed, Rite of Passage expanded to include a site in the high desert of Northern Nevada. There, youth adhered to an alternative “boot camp” program– following the model that was gaining momentum among juvenile justice programs nationwide. The program philosophy was simple: rigorous exercise delivered therapy, which, when paired with positive mentoring and serious academic study, fostered opportunities for youth to develop goals, and to improve their own lives.

History 04


This was a major shift in Rite of Passage’s focus. Following the research and best-practices of the time, this shift transitioned our programs from their outward focus to the development of youth’s intellect and employable skill sets. This was the decade of our Athletic Training Centers and Schools where youth could earn not only a high school diploma, but could receive vocational training in industry recognized trades.

This was also the era of Positive Peer Culture, behavior management milieu which shifted the responsibility of growth and development from program staff to the students. Although this is no longer the basis of our programming, it did form the basis of what we now call Positive Youth Development– which would become a core aspect of our programming in the early 2000’s.


Driven by our identity as a learning organization, we follow the latest trends in evidence-based practices while remaining true to our roots of relationship-based experiential learning. Yet, we use what works, and discard what does not. What has resulted is a comprehensive system of care that addresses all aspects of youth development. Called "Positive Organizational Culture," our programs engage youth in activities designed to improve not only themselves, but their communities-- offering a dynamic and meaningful outlet for self-expression and achievement.

Today, ROP offers a full spectrum of services and care for foster, at-risk and adjudicated youth across the United States. From Community & Family Support, Child Welfare, Education and Juvenile Justice programs, our staff are dedicated advocates for youth who encourage students to climb the highest mountain peaks and to see new perspectives for their lives from such great heights.



photo gallery

These images show Rite of Passage’s evolution from a group home in Northern Nevada to a national provider of services to at-risk and vulnerable youth.