Wilderness Weekly 07.28.22

Photo Credit: outBACK staff

Goannas:

The incoming staff had a great time getting to know the students over a game of dogs. Most students and staff participated, including the student’s therapist. The week started well with a group busting, where one of the newer students busted his first coal and blew it into flames. We had a great hike to our next sight and ended the night with highs and lows. The following morning we started out with some morning stretches and goals. That day the students enjoyed some personal time and worked their therapy assignments. The students had a great opportunity to go on a day hike and get some forgotten items forgotten on the trail.

We had a staff change in the middle of the week which gave the opportunity for another intro circle. The following day we worked on busting in order to get everyone out of the first camp; everyone made great progress. One of the students shared a TVP burger recipe with the rest of the students that the whole group got really excited about. That night we had a nice five mile hike that brought us to a beautiful area with lots of sage trees and plenty of shade. Before going to bed some students took the initiative and set up the shower shelter. When everyone woke up we had a hot meal and then set up the main and shelter. The next day we had a hot breakfast and started on laundry and showers. The students who weren’t doing laundry or showering, practiced their skills. One newer student with the help of more experienced students was able to bust six coals. After lunch we had a naming ceremony for one of the students – Fruity Ginger. Two staff were also awarded the Brightness token, and the Solid Ground tokens by students and other staff. The students then had dinner and had a feedback gathering. They experienced a lot of wildlife sightings this week including pronghorns, rabbits, and were serenaded by coyotes every night as they went to bed beneath the starts. Finally, we had a powerful Milan led by the student’s therapist and introduced the incoming staff. 

Pindaris:

It was a good week for the Pindari, everyone made strides toward self discovery, specifically about themselves in leadership roles. Our group gained a new student this week and everyone took turns stepping up to assist with everything from busting skills to perfecting pack straps. 

The group shared in telling stories to one another and reflecting on subjects such as honor and compassion. They learned about the land that we are using and reflected on the indigenous populations that used to walk area of our desert.

This week the group worked to tandem bust, took turns making and exchanging spoons, and participated in reading aloud from The Lakota Way (a collection of short stories from which we based a number of our gatherings). That book and some of our other conversations helped center our minds on our connection with nature; in perfect timing we were visited by two baby Night Hawks that waddled around camp softly screeching at us. The students named them “Owlbert” and “Willow”, and after building trust got to pet/cuddle the birds. 

Two students had their Parent Visits this week, the students stepped out of the group onto solo to spend some time and reflect on themselves and the dynamics of their families. The coming together of these families was a beautiful thing to witness, and the students rejoined the group with stories to share from their very short time away.

As a special end to the week, one student earned his trail name in a ceremony circle sprinkled with bright yellow Juniper and decorated with flowers. The symbolism was very fitting–this student is a bloom in progress. His new name is Adventurous Northern Florida Git Lizard

Ulurus:

This was an exciting week for the students! The group was led by a fellow student for the first time through a cross country hike using the terrain features to guide us to our next camp. We also had a planned and intentional Sunday brunch which was smashing. Our head chef led out in a creating delicious cinnamon rolls Gordon Ramsay would be proud of. Students frequently recreated this masterpiece throughout the week.

Students conducted a token ceremony themselves awarding fellow peers with a “strong cord” signifying unity and bringing others together while another was awarded with a token for letting go. The students openly recognized the progress others have been making extending hands of fellowship and words of encouragement which brought them closer together. 

The group played a lot of DnD this week, coming together to create characters and go on adventures with one another. Mischievous Raven took on the responsibility of creating the world and running the campaign for the rest of the students.

Mischievous Raven also spent skills time creating a chair out of lots of small willow branches. Many of the other members of the group spent a lot of their skills time working on getting out of first camp!

A trail name was held in honor of one student bestowing him the name Nomadic Trailrunner–Nomadic because of his roaming and restless nature (floating around the group) sharing words and talents with those around him and “roadrunner” because of his energy and impossibly quick feet. Luminescent Orca and Vibrant Honey badger were close runner-ups in the name ceremony. 

The group managed their way through some tumultuous emotions and came together closer as a group as a result of it. 

Brumbies:

This week in the Brumbies was a week of rest, bonding, getting to know one another, working on skills, and playing games!  The group accomplished one beautiful night hike this week where we identified constellations and occasionally made wishes upon shooting stars!  More excitingly, the group saw Star Link, a chain of satellites zooming across the sky!

At our new camp the group found and made a variety of new skills, Unstoppable Panda made moccasins, and drawings.  Persistent Macaroni Penguin made multiple dream catchers with wooden beads and different colored string.  Many other students and staff both made  things such as chairs, flutes, bark baskets, and mini fire making sets! The Brumbies also had the opportunity to try busting a coal on a giant busting set that took everyone using their full bodies to spin the spindle on the fire board.

Throughout the week we saw a small variety of wildlife such as rabbits, kangaroo mice, scorpions and red tail hawks! We played games such as Werewolf, the color game were you describe a color without saying the color, and unfair trivia, all while enjoying many sunny days sprinkled in with light and refreshing rain.

The Brumbies conducted a goodbye ceremony for one of our fellow staff. The group honored her with the Giver, Vital Fire, and one handmade Brightness token as well as a spindle and her trail name, “Caring Wolf”. 

Last but not least another one of our students was given his trail name, Unstoppable Panda. Signing off on another good week in the Brumbies! 

Peak:

This week, four students coming from three different groups came together to embark on the adventure of peak week! The week started off with a celebration of Peacekeeping Panda’s birthday at our first campsite high in elevation in Cedar Canyon. The following day, the group went into the depths of Mammoth Caves where we spent some time in complete darkness. That day we also explored the refreshing Cascade Falls, where the group also got to see a very old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Tree and walk the shores of Navajo Lake. That evening under the starlight we discussed role models and some of their traits we would like to embody.

The next day brought about challenges in the form of rock climbing! Each student found themselves at the top of two great climbs before everyone was stumped on a very hard climb. We discussed the parallels of climbing to life and how each one of us are facing our own climbs and how we need to have our “belayers” there to help with the feat. That evening we spent some time on the shore of a pond and worked on our beloved Ngarnas. Before we left that area, everyone got to express some young nostalgia on a swing set together. With all of the laughter, it brought up many memories for people of home and their childhood.

As we left the elevation of Cedar Canyon, we set our bearing North. It landed us in Fremont Indian State Park that was once home to the Fremont Indians. At the state park we hiked a trail that brought us through a maze of rock walls covered in petroglyphs and pictographs, and even had a pit house that we could climb down into to tell stories of our experiences with indigenous people and how we can learn to “take our shoes off” when we are visiting their land. The concept of taking your shoes off in someone’s home can be brought into anything in life as a sign of respect. To wrap up the day, we drove further North to the Meadow Lava Tubes, where the group navigated through the lava tubes and held a gathering in total darkness. As we emerged from the ground, the sky greeted us with a vibrant fiery sunset filling the space above our heads.

Our last full day together was spent walking the beaches of Yuba State Park, where some of the students even came together to pick up some trash that was left there by other people, and climbing to the top of a very tall sand dune in Little Sahara Recreation Area! We saw many methods tried when coming down from the dune including rolling, skipping, jumping, and sliding. Our sandy ride to our next location was a loud one. The group was in a happy mood and sang a plethora of music that ranged from 80’s pop to Disney movie songs!

We ended the week with the Peak patch ceremony. Each student: Peacekeeping Panda, Electric Aspen, Goofy Goose, and Courageous Hyena were honored for the obstacles they have overcome during the week and the knowledge they have gathered from outBACK. The students were challenged to continue seeking knowledge during the rest of their stay here and their journey afterwards to fulfill our motto of “Know Thyself”. The staff couldn’t express enough how excited they are to see what each of the students will do for the rest of their stay and hope that this week will help propel them in their final days and weeks at outBACK.

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