The Book of Generations is a book made by Outback students out of leather that is full of inspiring messages written by teens on the day before they leave the wilderness. This book is passed down from student to student and each teen is given the opportunity to write their message to the next “generation” after them. Here is an inspirational message from the Book of Generations:
“I arrived at Outback in late June, 2010 and was sent here for drug use, skipping school, lying and because of the rough relationship that I have had with my family.
I came to Outback as an unmotivated kid and someone who never really had any confidence. It was rough coming here and at the beginning I was angry about the situation that I was put in. Little did I know that I actually put myself here. I spent the first few nights crying and constantly being in a state of confusion and frustration. However, once I got into the group called the Dingoes, the days got better and better. Coming into the group I was incredibly shy and kept mostly to myself. But day after day I began to contribute my own experiences more often and learned a great deal from people. However, I still didn’t fully open up.
As I spent more days with my therapist, we began to figure out the issues that I have had in the past. We decided that I wasn’t communicating well with both of my parents which lead to tension in the household. I saw myself as a mistake because I was adopted. For the first time in my life, I began to realize that I missed my biological parents and that I truly loved them. This turned out to relate to my drug use and other personal issues.
One day I wrote a letter to my parents about wanting to learn more about my adoption. They responded with a letter about it. When I first heard the news about the letter they wrote I got emotional and anxious and wanted to run to my shelter. But my therapist told me to stay in the group so I could get over my fear about opening up to others. I started to read the letter to the group in tears because of the information that I learned. At first I was embarrassed but it turned out that my group was so supportive of me and they learned so much about me. Opening up and learning that I wasn’t a mistake was the beginning of my transformation at Outback.
With that experience under my belt I began to gain confidence in myself and began to contribute to group gatherings more than I ever had. I began challenging myself and others and began gaining all of the lessons that the hikes, group members and staff had brought me. Soon I received the Winged Heart token which was a major event during my Outback experience. As the weeks progressed I continued to develop as a person. Myself and a couple of my peers were recognized for our accomplishments and were given the opportunity to go on a special 4 day long leadership group.
Those four days were the best days of my life. The staff challenged us with an 8 and 15 mile hike all in silence. At first I wanted to give up but I pushed on with the others. Completing the 15 mile hike was the most difficult experience of my life but I learned the importance of never giving up. After finishing I felt so accomplished and proud. I learned so much about myself and thought about what I was going to do differently after Outback. The staff read us powerful stories and inspirational passages. I don’t think I have ever learned so much from someone as I have from the staff at Outback.
As I came back to group, many members began to leave for home. As it came time for me to become the group leader, I promised myself to be the kind of leader that would help all the new students get as much out of Outback as I have. I found so much personal strength from helping others succeed. I learned the importance of giving back to others and helping people in their time of personal confusion and sorrow.
It felt great to lead the group on a challenge to hike to the summits all four mountains in the Outback wilderness in only one week. It was an incredibly difficult process, but it is something I will never forget. There is no greater feeling than accomplishing a difficult task with the people around you. There is so much to be learned from an experience like that.
Time has passed on and here I sit in a beautiful sacred ceremonial space called Bora Ground. I’m surrounded by mountains, meadows, stars and moonlight as I write this letter. It is so difficult to describe my experience at Outback because it is so meaningful to me. I have formed lifetime bonds with the staff and students. I have memories to last a lifetime from this place.
Overall, I have learned the importance of hard work and determination, of sustaining positive relationships, of appreciating what is around you and most importantly respecting yourself through honoring honesty and integrity. I can’t say how grateful I am for having the opportunity of a lifetime at Outback. It is amazing how much the wilderness can provide for you. I have recently learned that I am off to boarding school after Outback. Although I am scared, I know that I will be alright as long as I bring all that I have learned at Outback. I will always keep these experiences in a special place in my heart. Outback has given me the opportunity to begin my life as the person I am today. It is my time to fly and it certainly will be yours too as long as you stay true to yourself and put all of your heart and soul into this experience that you are fortunate to be a part of. Do your thing out here. This is the true beginning of your life.”