Where have all the initiators gone???
I hate to say it, but Wade's got a point. He's managed to pinpoint an historical right of passage that has become exactly that...history!
In an attempt to discern the various reasons for this dissipation, I think the greatest contributing factor is the modernization of civilization. Our ability to provide the basic necessities to sustain life has become much easier over the past 100 years and, as Wade mentioned, acquiring those goods have always been the primary role of men. The natural progression of this world has opened up a wealth of options for man to provide for his family without having to obtain it directly. I don't have to milk a cow, build a house, or chop wood anymore, since someone else can do it for me. There are more technical trades now than before, so man can learn a skill (or set of skills) with little effort or practice. Also, increased educational opportunities have contributed significantly to this evolutionary process.
In regards to Wade's discussion of the "group", Eldredge goes to great lengths (I think) to emphasize the importance of showing the strength that is found in the men that make up the group. Man can do a lot by himself, but without the help of his predecessors (i.e. their guidance, support, encouragement) he is less likely to excel. That's what Eldredege was trying to show his son Sam. He can't become a man by himself. It has to be done through the relationships with men, through MENtorship.
I've been part of clubs, organizations, cliques and the like. As a freshman and sophomore, I learned through observing juniors and seniors. Moreover, I took on more responsibility only when it was given to me by someone older and more experienced than myself.
In sum, I'd like to answer Wade's question with a question: Is initiation into manhood a thing of the past, or has it simply manifested itself in different ways that reflect modernity?