The Goannas had a rockin’ week with a lot of laughter and snow. We started the week trying to go sledding, with not enough snow but plenty of dirt. The students slid down only about 10 feet down the hill and yet it was a hysterical event, nonetheless. The theme of the week was vision, with all the Goannas being seasoned, they are all starting to look towards their next steps, and there were many conversations about what that might look like for each of them. We were able to present one student with a token, Solid Ground, and commend him for his stability while enduring challenging times during his stay and being a consistent example of resilience and strength for everyone in the group. The students also held a trail naming ceremony for one of our guides, Giggly Sasquatch, who was very lighthearted, and everyone was able to share their appreciation for that guide. As the week progressed, Giggly Sasquatch engaged everyone in a multi-day Dungeons and Dragons adventure, which consisted of all the students taking on characters like ogres, wizards, and warlocks. The students became invested and that brought much camaraderie as we navigated a snowstorm. The Goannas of course, had some “downs” along with their “ups” throughout the week, and in true Goanna style, they talked things out with a lot of honesty and thoughtful feedback for each other. They handled the challenging weather, and they are looking forward to their upcoming adventure expedition.
Roos - Backcountry Expedition
The Roos had an awesome week learning how to work together to overcome the elements and bond as a group. This intimate and mighty crew created the perfect environment to hone in on their camp craft and fundamental wilderness skills. The Roos completed two pack hikes and one day hike during their backcountry expedition. Additionally, they made fire sets and managed to practice busting every day. One Roo successfully busted a coal and the others got close to getting one. Another success of the group was their ability to open up with each other. Emotional safety was high in the Roos this week and they enjoyed gathering around the fire at night to have a conversation about vulnerability and create a space for each student to share their story. The Roos also honored each other this week, with two students receiving tokens, Vital Fire, and Openness, and one receiving their trail name, Strong Mule. Monday brought more snow to the field, and the Roos were able to revel in the stillness of it all due to the preparations they made in advance. When Tuesday rolled around, they were excited for therapy sessions and to begin a new week. Overall, an outstanding week for the Roos!
Roos - Adventure Expedition
There is a phrase that floats around that says, “A true adventure doesn’t start until something goes wrong.” This week, we learned the true meaning of that. Due to unforeseen circumstances, our itinerary for our adventure expedition had to be changed and our “adventure” took us to a state campground called Quail Creek State Park. When we arrived at our campsite the group came together to set up camp and enjoy a meal together, discuss how our plans will have to change and process the various feelings, thoughts, and meanings each of the members were experiencing.
When we woke up the next morning, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the reservoir that sat next to our campsite. To re-center ourselves, the group spent the day by the water while one of the guides played their guitar. The Roos worked on our slack lining skills and skipped rocks on the still water of the reservoir. We all felt the tranquility of these activities as they take great concentration and coordination to do. There was a lot of trading of knowledge as some students were experienced in certain activities while others were not. After some time by the water, we headed back to our site to start preparing an evening meal. As the sun set over the colorful sandstone mountains, we cooked a beautiful meal together and shared many laughs. As we made our way back to our backcountry expedition course area, the students acknowledged their interest in a podcast that we listened to called “The 4-Minute Mile”, and how it can be applied to themselves and their personal goals.
Upon our arrival in the west desert, we were greeted by some wintery weather. The Roos quickly came together to build their shelter, shared a nice warm meal afterwards and then discussed what rejoining the rest of our group members should look like to help make the transition as smooth as possible. We were also able to have a trail naming ceremony for Groovy Goat that one of our senior students, Mellow Rat facilitated.
The rest of our time with the adventure group was spent processing how we can become more self-sufficient as a group. Although this was not our typical adventure, we all learned a valuable lesson about life; we can plan all we want for something we want, but there will be times when you must roll with the punches and make the best out of what ’is in front of you.
This week in the Ulurus was fun and exciting! Several Uluru students had their parent visits. These students woke up early, went to the site where they were to meet their parents, and prepared for their arrival. When they got back to the group, they were excited to share their experiences. Although it is bittersweet, the Ulurus also said good-bye to some of our most senior students, Blossoming Bobcat and Radical Megalodon. The group held a good-bye ceremony for both where each student shared their first impressions of them, their lasting impressions, their favorite memory, favorite quote, and their hopes for their futures. Transitions can be times for many emotions to arise, and the group felt sad in saying goodbye and happiness in the excitement for what is to come during the next steps of their journey.
Throughout the week there were a handful of unexpected fun and creative moments. During one of our backcountry expedition hikes, we found a geocache that no one had ever found. So of course, we signed the group name, dated it, and scrounged to find something cool to add to it. We could only find a small blue button, so we added it! Another noteworthy moment from this week is the three separate times we found a ladybug, in the middle of winter! We found it for the first time at one campsite and it somehow traveled with us to our next campsite.
There were many fun moments and challenging moments this week. Rainy weather, sunny days, and a good amount of snow. Hikes are not always easy and group cohesion can wane yet there are many moments to be celebrated that ebb and flow along the way. The students worked hard on preparing our camp so we could be comfortable during the snow and rain, some worked on therapeutic assignments such as reading “Anatomy of Peace” or working on first camp assignments. Those who had their parent visits led a gathering on their experience where the group got to ask them questions about their family, parents, what they expected, what they talked about, what they cooked for their parents, and what their parents thought about the experience of being at outBACK.
Some of our fellow guides and students were honored with tokens and trail names. The group’s newest comrade was honored with the Brightness token for his highly energetic way of being and joyful outlook on his possibilities for growth and learning how to identify, understand, and manage his emotions effectively. The other student, whose time had come for their trail name, was given the name Wild Tiger, representing his high energy and vigilance within the group and life in the desert.