Wilderness Weekly 05.13.22

Photo Credit: outBACK staff


It was a stellar week for the Goannas. Despite a snowstorm on Wednesday, the weather was amazingly sunny and warm. As a result, the Goannas were able to camp outside underneath the beautiful stars five nights this week. Our hikes were challenging, but there was one that stood out the most because we ended one of our hikes up in Judd Canyon, experiencing one of the most picturesque spots in the field. On Friday, the goannas were stoked to gather by a fresh clear spring, a rather rare moment. They eagerly ran through the stream splashing about and enjoying the cool water. The Goannas welcomed Wise King Krab this week from another group, and he instantly fit in. The Goannas also welcomed a new member on Monday night with their characteristically open hearts and enthusiasm. Multiple members of the Goannas shared their life stories this week tapping into their own vulnerability. By sharing life stories students bonded deeper with each other and had more compassion for others. Games dominated the activities of the week as they played countless crappy throws, dogs, and mafia. Students took their own initiative to make time for their Ngarna Workbooks, even during hike breaks. Overall, it was a week of sunny days and starry nights, go-go hikes, and lots of fun games. The Goannas have many more weeks like this to look forward to.


This week the Pindari worked as a group to foster a renewed sense of group culture. They encouraged each other to bust coals and take turns on tasks such as digging fire pit and setting up shelter. Leaders in the group encouraged newer and younger students to participate in gatherings, emphasizing that our time around the fire is intentional, even sacred time, during which we are safe to share with and support each other. The group got in an extra big hike this week (9 miles!) since we lost the shelter rope on the way to a new site and had to go back to find it. We discussed the importance of LNT and  natural consequence was a challenge, once we found the rope and could finally head back for a nice hot dinner, there was an undeniable unity and spirit of success in the group. As we ate dinner that night a few of the boys reflected, with surprise, that it was a great day because of the experience.

We had a few notable ceremony circles this week, most of which were initiated by students! Zen Orangutan received the Peacewalker token for his growth in recognizing and acknowledging others’ points of views and seeking resolve in conflicts, as well as advocating for peace in the overall group dynamic. The following tokens were initiated by students, meaning they noticed and discussed a peer’s accomplishments and approached the staff to hold a ceremony circle. One student received the Strong Cord token, for those who invite and encourage others in a positive way and creates a significant effect on the motivation of others. Another received Letting Go, showing continuous improvement in his attitude about his own behaviors and expressing different perspectives than he used to. Another student received the Seeker token, recognizing his commitment to asking questions to discern among choices, to asking and accepting help and others’ points of views, and initiating discussions to understand his role in dynamics. This student also enjoyed using a staff’s Audubon Field Guide to the Desert Southwest book to identify and share names of the nature around us, including Black Tailed Jack Rabbits, Sagebrush Lizards, and Blue Flax.

The Pindari demonstrated deep care and commitment to their brothers this week, encouraging each other, holding each other accountable, and relying on each other to offer guidance and resolve conflict. It was a great week for group rapport.


This was an incredible week for the Uluru. The week started off with a group split which resulted in only the core group of Uluru remaining. It was the perfect opportunity for group development and strengthened group culture alongside strengthened relationships with fellow students. The week included some enormous hiking achievements as well. They started the hike week with a massive excursion over hills and a mountain. Spirits were high as they stood atop the mountain surveying the landscape below. Following that massive hike the students had a rest day which included peaking an even taller mountain than the previous day. On the top of a mountain the students performed a series of token ceremonies. Iron Coyote received the Awakening and Maker tokens. Another student received the Openness token. It was a meaningful time of reflection and honor in such an incredible setting. After a day of showers and rest, the group embarked on yet another hiking challenge. The Uluru students took the time to create a sacred space and honor the outBACK staff with the Brightness and Solid Ground. The group completed their very first night hike around a mountain range, through the desert and into a neighboring valley. During the hike, strength and endurance were tested but the group was rewarded with a full lunar eclipse in the middle of the long hike. A fitting scene for a group that has changed in such a positive way. The students were cheering each other on and helping one another when they struggled. The students enjoyed their fire and food in an early morning dinner before finally getting some rest as the sun was rising.

Apart from hikes the group enjoyed many games throughout the week including various hacky sack games and an interactive roleplaying story game that lasted the entire week and continues today. The group grew closer together and learned how to utilize each individuals’ strengths to complete group activities and make the days run smoothly.

The week started with members leaving but ended with new students joining the group. New faces following a triumphant week was just the thing needed to build the Uluru higher than ever before.


 This week students from different groups came together and formed a new group called the Brumbies. The transition was not an easy task for some, yet the new group members persevered through the challenges change brought. The week was full of exploring the desert. Brumbies embarked on two hikes to new sites and one day hike with beautiful views and some wildlife sightings. A large jack rabbit, a couple of pronghorn, a gopher snake, and many lizards were spotted. When the students got to their therapy site they became enthralled by the starry night sky. Brumbies also got to witness the lunar eclipse, which was insanely memorizing.

Busting was the center of focus for the Brumbies all week. Many students were determined to perfect their busting sets and master the skills needed to bust a coal. One Brumbie busted their first coal within the first couple of minutes of trying! Later on in the week the group participated in a ceremony circle, honoring two Brumbies and a staff member. Mindful Raven was presented with the Winged Heart token, highlighting his emotional intelligence and empathy for others. Another Brumbie was honored with the Letting Go token as a challenge. The group identified immense potential in the member and challenged him in beginning to let go of his walls to provide the opportunity to dive into the healing process. Lastly, one of our OTE staff was given his trail name. The Brumbies were honored to be part of the name selection and gave great thought into the trail name process.

The Brumbies had a challenging week that pushed them into many opportunities for growth and change. Their determination was very much present throughout the week. Group dynamics and culture is starting to take off and we’re excited to continue to keep you posted on their journey!


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