Sunset over Embercombe. Credit: Soulfocus Media

Back Row

Back Row on The Journey

The Back Row is an integral part of The Journey and their willingness to return in support for other Journeyers is much appreciated. 

Being on the Back Row is rewarding, but it can also be challenging in various ways. Coming with the right intention, attitude and expectations makes all the difference. In the past we’ve experienced difficulties because people chose to join the Back Row based on incorrect information, wrong assumptions and false expectations. As a result it didn’t work for them or for The Journey programme. 

We have therefore put together the information below to help you prepare, and to make Back Rowing the most rewarding experience it can be. Please read this page carefully, and do let us know if there is anything you don’t understand by emailing us.

What is the Back Row?

The Journey is a ceremony; one that celebrates people who are following the call of the river of life.  As back row we are not here to counsel the participants, to give them advice or to force our idea of a successful Journey onto them, rather we hold the space for them to do their Journey.

We prepare and care for the blanket on the altar on which they do their work.

Remembering the story of Jumping Mouse, we are not frog. We might be raccoon, but we certainly are other mice who have jumped, touched the water and committed to The Journey. We can help our friends by making a space for them to crouch as low as they can and jump as high as they can, to not be blinded by fear and anger when they touch the water, by walking alongside them with grace. We celebrate that they are here and invite them to be adults who take responsibility for their lives.

We do this by modelling it, by being aware of the drama triangle, resisting the temptation of rescuing. We see and witness the participants without needing them to be different, we acknowledge them by holding them in high regard. This way we invite them to celebrate themselves, whatever it is they are experiencing. We do this in the direct interaction we have with them and in the way we prepare spaces, sweep the floor and wash the dishes. We dance with them, but let them lead. We have conversations with them, but keep their story at the centre. 

Intention of the Back Row

The primary intention of the Back Row is to prepare and care for the environment in which the Journey participants are doing their work. This in itself is an amazing learning opportunity and yet allows for the secondary intention – for you to revisit and deepen your own Journey experience. 

Time Commitments

Just like participating on The Journey, Back Rowing is a full time experience. There are no gaps.

We ask Back Row to arrive at noon, the day before The Journey begins, to allow for preparations ahead of the participants’ arrival, and to stay until 4pm on the day of departure to allow for us to debrief afterwards.

We know taking time off work and family commitments can be difficult, but the more you can be at Embercombe without distractions, the stronger The Journey will be for you and for everyone else. We ask that you make preparations as appropriate to be as fully present and available as possible during your week on the Back Row.

Is this for you?

Are you prepared to work long hours and be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually stretched? 

Back Rowing involves a wide range of tasks, which can be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually demanding. The Back Row are usually the first people up (around 6am) and the last people to go to bed (around 10pm). You will be holding space for participants and being a supportive witness to them. This might require sitting for a long time as well as digging holes and doing other tasks outside in all weathers. Furthermore you will be required to work as part of the Back Row team with all the potential dynamics that come with this.

 A beautiful aspect of Back Rowing is the opportunity to revisit your Journey experience and the pledge you made. Back Rowing can be a chance to go deeper and check in with yourself where you are in your life, but all of this can open, touch, move, challenge and trigger you. While this is a welcome aspect of Back Rowing, your focus, attention and care always needs to be with the participants and the needs of The Journey. 

Roles & Responsibilities of Back Row


  • Preparation of and ongoing care for the spaces that The Journey uses 
  • Assisting participants with their practical needs 
  • Timekeeping and shepherding participants between sessions 
  • Being a point of contact for participants 
  • Supporting facilitators as and when needed 
  • Supporting each other with specific roles 
  • Meet and greet arriving participants 
  • Time keeping and signalling of times 
  • Tidying, organising and brightening of Centre Fire and other spaces used for The Journey 
  • Making sure that there is always drinking water available for participants 
  • Lighting and tending to fires in Centre Fire and on the land
  • Assisting participants with the wood burners in their accommodation
  • Assisting participants with sleeping out preparations
  • Counting numbers of participants in and out of sessions to ensure everyone is present
  • Late night closing up of interior spaces


  • Role modelling authenticity, intention and self-leadership 
  • Holding a strong and safe space 
  • Witnessing and supporting participants during sessions 
  • Supporting each other as well as the participants with awareness, care, alertness, paying attention and being available 
  • Setting & holding appropriate boundaries (emotional, physical, sexual) 
  • Allowing the participants their own experience without projecting your own experience onto them
  • Practicing inclusion and awareness of issues around race, gender, sexual orientation, belief, socioeconomic background etc. 
  • Bringing joy to the experience of caring for others and yourself 


  • Know your intention for your time at Embercombe with The Journey 
  • Opportunity to renew your pledge 
  • Identify your own learning areas 
  • Take on roles and tasks that will stretch you 
  • Participate in Back Row check ins 

 You will have an opportunity to check in every day in order to be present for participants and connect to your own Journey. We will also have a practical meeting at the start of each day. 


Sign Up to Back Row

Please note there are limited spaces on the Back Row for each Journey. Places are usually allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, however if there are a large number of people interested in Back Rowing for a particular Journey and you have already Back Rowed in the last 12 months, you may be asked to step down to allow other Journey alumni to have this experience.

We aim to include a balance of ages / genders / identities on the Back Row and so on rare occasions, you may be asked to step down and/or move to another Journey if those who have signed up would result in an unbalanced group.

If you understand and agree to the roles and responsibilities outlined above, and you now want to sign up to Back Row on one of the upcoming Journeys, please register here.

Key information:

09 – 15 March 2024
13 – 19 April 2024
18 – 24 May 2024
27 July – 02 August 2024
28 September – 04 October 2024
02 – 08 November 2024

Arrival at noon. Departure at 4pm.

Accommodation is at Embercombe in shared yurts or camping (bring your own tent).

There is no cost to join us on the Back Row, however Embercombe would very much appreciate a financial contribution to food and accommodation. If you can afford to donate £50, it will go a longer way for Embercombe than you might think. 

If such a donation is not within your financial means, you are just as welcome and we would love to have you on the Back Row with us!

Your stay at Embercombe

Embercombe is a beautiful 50 acre rewilding estate on the edge of Dartmoor. It is a place to find a deep connection with nature – wild nature around us and wild nature within us. Our land is a mix of nature scapes to reconnect with, from mature oak woodlands that are over 150 years old, meadows and pastures, to various fruit orchards and gardens to explore, as well as our sacred stone circle and sacred well to seek counsel from. It is a place for nature connection, self development, inspiration and engaging in nature. 

Accommodation and facilities

You will stay in one of our beautiful yurt villages. Each yurt is furnished with comfortable beds and a wood fired stove. Both yurt villages have compost toilets and running water. Full bathroom facilities with hot showers are available in the main building.


All your meals are included. Organic, vegetarian food is lovingly prepared on site using produce from the Embercombe garden wherever possible. Special diets are adeptly catered for. Please indicate if you require this on your booking form.