Ice dodging is a rite of passage for young members of the Southern Water Tribe and a ceremonial test of wisdom, bravery, and trust.
When a tribe member reaches the age of fourteen, their father takes them out to sea in a sailboat where they challenge the youngster to take over and sail the ship safely through dangerous, iceberg-filled waters. The father remains in the boat to observe the teenager's performance, but does not interfere. If the child succeeds, they will receive a mark on their forehead in cuttlefish paint that symbolizes the virtue they demonstrated most prominently during the test.
Participation in this ritual can earn those not born in the Southern Water Tribe recognition as an honorary member of the tribe.
Sokka never had the chance to perform the ice dodging ceremony as his father, Hakoda, left the Southern Water Tribe before Sokka had reached the required age. However, in early 100 ASC, he encountered one of his father's old friends, Bato, who, realizing that Sokka had never completed his rite of passage, suggested that he and his friends perform a variation of the ritual, dodging jagged rocks instead of icebergs, with Bato himself standing in for Hakoda. Accepting Bato's offer, Sokka performed the ritual. He steered the boat and coordinated Katara, who took the mainsail, and Aang, who controlled the jib. With teamwork and Sokka's decisive leadership, the group completed the ritual without injury, even performing beyond what they had to do to pass. Sokka was awarded the Mark of the Wise, Aang the Mark of the Trusted, and Katara the Mark of the Brave.