Expeditions are powerful tools, because they give students a chance to learn therapeutic concepts and experience these principles firsthand. Outback’s expedition model is designed to reinforce and amplify the foundational clinical concepts that have been taught during therapy sessions and clinical workshops. Expedition therapy enables these concepts to permeate every aspect of the group’s final experience together.


Expeditions are designed to be fun and exciting. They do, however, also have significant therapeutic benefits. Our students participate in various clinical workshops centered around the core values of Identity, Family, Resilience, and Vision. Workshops occur biweekly and our expeditions give way for our students to reinforce and amplify the foundational clinical concepts.

While each trek brings about immediate challenges and rewards, the long-term goal is to create a memorable event with a direct, positive effect on the student’s life. During your child’s stay at Outback, they are likely to participate in activities that could include (but are not limited to):


Student-led expeditions in which the staff are there only as safety guides and the students are in charge of everything else. This removes the ‘babysitter’ that students often assign to therapists by placing the group’s progress directly on the shoulders of the students.


Climbing to the top of a mountain peak is a strenuous but rewarding adventure. Having a group climb a peak with various challenges changes a rewarding experience into a transformational experience. For example, the group can perform a ‘letting-go’ by carrying a medium-sized rock to the top of the mountain and then throwing it off the summit while shouting their burdens. This combines a physical achievement with emotional catharsis by allowing the student to let go of the hurt, fear, and anger that they have carried for years.


Our excursions are full of fun games and initiatives like slacklining, spider web, flip the tarp, and helium stick. These all have powerful therapeutic concepts associated with them. In addition, these activities help our staff and therapists assess your child in a playful interactive state which provides a lot of therapeutic value.


Our students practice the art of mindfulness through creating with their hands.  Students will have the chance to make challenging primitive crafts such as bows and arrows, clay flutes, and willow baskets. These items go far beyond their physical traits as we translate the experience of making and using those items into students’ lives. This process often helps students to slow down and see that everything they do has meaning and value.


Every wilderness program makes fire-by-friction because it is such a valuable skill. Outback goes beyond the typical fire making experience, however, to help students grow in confidence and character by making fires in a variety of methods and initiatives.  We have a 5’ tall fire-by-friction set that requires an entire group to operate. We challenge the students to make fire with ice (it works, believe it or not), or even to make fire blind-folded. The process of making fire is even more powerful when you discover new ways to tie it into your therapeutic work.


It isn’t uncommon for teenagers to be self-consumed. A number of our expeditions include opportunities to get outside of their selfish habits and give back to someone else. We’ve had groups do service for the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest, and private ranchers. Each time the experience begins with grumbling and ends with laughter.