Wilderness Weekly 06.02.22

Photo Credit: Rosalie DiRado


The Goanna’s started the week playing tons of games and engaging in a variety of activities. The group played Dogs with their hackysacks, “school bus”, a game where you have to rhyme with the previous person, and a team jump roping activity where they all had to make it through the jump rope one after another without hitting the rope. The Goannas played countless games of Among Us during the week where we had to figure out who the imposter in the group was.

The Goannas welcomed new members with open arms this and showed them a tremendous amount of love and support. The new members came in ready to learn right away and asked tons of questions–as one of our members put it, “The one who asks questions is the one who is willing to learn”. Adventurous Silverback and another student were able to complete their first camp activities this week. The Goannas really grew closer and built an admirable amount of camaraderie this week, with multiple members sharing their life stories with the group. The Goannas were so thoughtful and caring during their meaningful conversations all throughout the week. The Goannas then played a group activity called “Laser”, where they all had to get over a para cord line without touching it. They brainstormed tons of ways to get over the rope and came out successful in the activity. The Goannas accumulated about 13 miles hiking this week, with the favorites of the week being a 4.5 mile night hike where the group took breaks to identify the North Star as well as countless constellations in the gorgeous West Desert sky!

The Goannas also worked on so many creative projects throughout the week, creating leather bags, hackysacks, sandals, and keeper’s pouches. The students ended the week with a stretch circle where we went around and picked a stretch, and then each threw out a goofy question for everyone in the group to answer. This was just one part of numerous laughs during the week! They also experienced an amazing adventure, discovering a canyon where they saw a variety of birds, including a Golden Eagle and an owl, as well as got to explore such unique rock formations.

The Goannas had a ceremony circle in the canyon, where one of our newer members received the Winged Heart token, and Adventurous Tree and Courageous Lion, who received their trail names at the top of a hill overlooking the landscape this week, received the Openness token, and the Truth Speaker token. The Goannas played Red Light Green light, where we had to try and hide on the red light, and get past the caller on the green light. The group shared so many laughs, had a countless amount of meaningful conversations, and played games every day of the week. The support and passion for each other throughout the week was magical! Here’s to another fantastic week in the Goanna’s!


The Pindari conquered yet another epic week in the flourishing West Desert of Utah. The week started off with a spontaneous spoon making party where multiple spoons of varying sizes and designs were crafted around the fire. We sent off a beloved member of the group in a goodbye ceremony at sunset. He was honored with the Giver token for his generous nature and all the gifts he offered during his stay, including handmade crafts, friendship, and dedication to the group and the experience as a whole. During that same ceremony, another student received his trail name Lyrical Tundra, and two students who worked out conflicts between themselves honored each other with the Peacewalker and Making Amends tokens. It was a special evening of reminiscing, looking to the future, and bringing out the best in everyone.

We had the opportunity to hike into a unique canyon in the field that the Pindari has yet to explore this season. The unique rock formations, wildlife sightings, and rare trees sparked a new excitement in everyone. We collected willow and cottonwood to create new pack frames, bow drill kits, and of course more spoons. We also came upon a flowing stream which is an uncommon sight in the desert. Sitting down and enjoying a cup of fresh orange peel tea has made itself a new tradition amongst the members of the Pindari.

The leaders of the group organized three more ceremonies throughout the week which allowed every person in the group to be recognized and appreciated. One student was elated to receive the trail name Abstract Alien from the group, and other students were honored with the following tokens: Solid Ground, Strong Cord, Winged Heart, Seeker, Vital Fire, True Speaker, and a personalized “Bloom Where You’re Planted” token. The spirit of camaraderie that was cultured throughout the week was evident in a rousing rendition of “Country Roads” that was performed for Parker the Primary Therapist at the end of the week. In the words of a member of the group, “The Pindari feels like a family.”


This week in the Uluru, the theme we focused on was “identity”. The group reflected on the people, events and influences that contributed to the elements of their character they are learning to value and appreciate in themselves and others. At the beginning of the week, the group therapist also had the group pay attention to the idea of “shifting,” detailing how changing one’s perspective and attitude towards a matter can change the lens through which they view social situations and interactions within the group and throughout their lives. 

We said goodbye to Iron Coyote, the group’s most senior student, who had a great influence on the group culture. We also welcomed a new student to the group and he has hit the ground running, meshing with the group quite well. 

This week the Uluru hiked under the stars, spent rest days basking in the sun, and encountered much wildlife including lizards, scorpions, a snake, hawks, and kangaroo mice. We stopped for the week at a site called “The Oasis” with wind shaped sand dunes, ancient cedars, and lots of beautiful scenery in every direction. The week came to a close with a colorful sunset across the mountains to the west.  


“Identity” was our theme this week in the Brumbies. The Brumbies are a new group that formed here in the West Desert of Utah and are partaking in the journey of finding out who they are as a group and as individuals. As we welcome more members into the group, the culture is beginning to become more clear.  This week our therapist challenged the group to embark on the quest of self realization by naming pillars (or values) by which the Brumbies can best represent themselves as a group. The group chose Tenacity, Joy, Humor, Sociability, Bravery, and Determination, with another pillar to soon be added by the therapist. 

And what pillars could be more fitting to emulate the Brumbies after embarking on a 3.5 mile hike through the pouring rain and hot weather this week? They carried themselves with the grace of a rag of stallions through the wide, sage-speckled land they currently call home, and only had to take one pit stop along the way. 

As we settled to our last camp site for the week we engaged in two trail naming ceremonies, which are given by the group when they have determined they have spent enough time to truly get to know and understand their fellow Brumbies who were given the names Curious Polaris and Chaotic Orca

Despite the weather the desert threw their way, the Brumbies couldn’t help but ascend to new heights with each passing day, it’s simply woven into their nature.  All in all, after a week of self-reflection and growth, the Brumbies are another step further on the path of finding identity.


This peak week the group was gathered together for an introduction ceremony in the desert where they shared the events that had led to their enrollment in outBACK and set goals for themselves for the remainder of the week. The following morning they set off for Price Canyon and enjoyed music in the car along the way. Some of the students didn’t realize they shared a similar preference of music. They were able to connect through music and share meaningful memories associated with them.

In the canyon the group spent the morning rock climbing, and the late afternoon hiking to a nearby waterfall. All were gathered in the evening after dinner, to reflect on the challenges they faced and the importance of stepping out of their comfort zone. Some of these comfort zones revolved around trusting themselves and others. Others struggled with feeling empowered to try new things.

After Price Canyon the students packed and set off still further South up into Cedar Canyon, escaping from the summer heat into cooler weather. At Cedar, the group spent another full day climbing even more difficult and taller routes and pushed their physical and mental limits. Afterward they discussed how they can relate the climbing experience with their post-outBACK goals. Students discovered that working through climbing problems can be a healthy coping skill and the struggles encountered while climbing parallel similar struggles in life, outside of outBACK.

The final day in Cedar Canyon the group hiked into Ashdown Gorge, crossing streams and scrambling up small boulders along the way. They spent the evening drying out in the sun and taking a reflective moment to themselves. In the morning the crew headed to the tabernacle lava tubes of Fillmore. In the darkness of the cave the group contemplated and drew connections to their journey over the week and talked about what new attributes they learned about themselves. Many of them discovered that they could replace unhealthy habits with new found interests. They also realized that they were capable of exceeding their own self expectations.

The next morning the group headed back to the field where they spent the evening reminiscing on the experience and setting intentions for themselves, the final leg of their journey and life after outBACK. 


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