Wilderness Weekly 11.11.22


The Goannas came together as a group this week as they faced some challenging weather. They were able to appreciate the stacks of clouds during sunsets and even got up early to enjoy a breathtaking sunrise. As a team we also worked to collect and dry firewood, erect main shelters, dig fire pits and complete other necessary community tasks. Our backcountry expedition consisted of two hikes that covered five miles. This route gave us the chance to check out brittle cobblestone houses used along the original pony express route.

During our time together this week, one student exhibited vulnerability to the group and shared some moments of his life. In response to his willingness to open up and share, the other members rallied and offered their compassion and support. Leadership continues to expand amongst the group members, and they support each other physically and emotionally. The week was peppered with varying challenges combined with continued connections that brought the group closer together as they applied their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Despite new additions, winter weather, and shifting dynamics, the momentum of the group is pushing each student to truly show up each day. Although the winter weather continued to challenge the group, they are doing an excellent job of learning and excelling in this winter season of desert living. We even had the chance to participate in a competitive game of mafia that highlighted each student’s creativity and helped bring them together through laughter. Life in the desert is growing and the Goannas continue to experience their subtle novelty.


This week with the Roos, the prevalent theme was group unity. There were many admirable demonstrations of focus on community through teamwork and checking in on each other’s progress as the week continued. A tight group mentality and camaraderie is strong with the Roos. Their communication is strengthening, trust is expanding, and they continue to push each other to grow throughout this time together. Whether it was a multiple day snow igloo making project, a wood fort built from a felled tree, or managing desert living amid rain and snow, the Roos sure stick together through thick and thin. Lots of creative cooking occurred around the roaring campfire, with a focus on trying new recipes that utilized all available ingredients in new combinations that incited excitement among the students. Competitive games of camouflage allowed the students to highlight their athletic talents and create enormous amounts of laughter amongst the sage fields.

Present this week was a palpable appreciation for rest and recovery, after our first set of rewarding true winter hikes through the beautiful white snow sprinkled among the juniper forests and sage fields. We moved together as a team to get to new areas of the field, enjoying new sunset views, and set up some top-notch camp sites. It was a fulfilling and memorable week.

Ulurus - Adventure Expedition:

Adventure is out there! The Ulurus were ecstatic to set off on their adventure expedition and for the activities that would await them. For some students this was their first adventure expedition at outBACK. Just before the group would set out for St. George, the outBACK desert was dusted with eight inches of puffy and wet snow. This challenged the group and their preparation for their adventure expedition at first, but they put in the work for the long-term gain of what would await them. Alpha Wolf, Kind Boulder, and Electric Meerkat had their parent visits. Let us set off on an adventure! The group listened together to Brene Brown’s book “Atlas of the Heart” while they watched snow fade and beautiful sandy red rocks appear.

The first activity challenged trust in oneself by repelling off red rocks and lowering to meet a few guides at the bottom. Every single student repelled. Confidence grew as students challenged their own trust and worked alongside their fears. During our exploratory hike of the Red Cliffs, members of the group saw dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs, and were able to go through slot canyons, pools of water and climb a wall relying on a rope to help balance to move further through the trail. At the top of a sandy red rolling peak the group participated in a gathering. The group discussed the toxic effects of following the examples of peers leading to poor decision making that still influenced their lives today.

Our Adventure Expedition also included rock climbing at Prophecy Wall where the students could belay each other tandem with staff. We made our way to the Lava Tubes and held a gathering involving complete darkness and the space to share personal insights, thoughts, and feelings on “safe places” and how to identify and cultivate them in our lives. Additionally, the week included a student receiving the trail name Outgoing Tide. The meaning behind the name was honor for the bubbly personality and the positive and lasting way they impact the group. Overall, the group bonded in new ways and experienced daily novelties.

Ulurus - Backcountry Expedition:

The Ulurus made this week a great one as they faced challenges with tenacity and positivity! As they started the week, they were presented with a surprise snowstorm that kept them on their toes. They combined their efforts to shore up their main shelter and made quick work of things in a tricky situation, coming together fluidly. The next day, most of the students headed out for Adventure week, while Kind Boulder stayed behind to join his parents for their Parent Visit over the weekend.

We were able to welcome in a new member this week. They brought curiosity and a high level of engagement to the group! He immediately got to work learning the ropes of the program and picked up new skills easily. As we moved through the week, he learned several knots and fire skills, along with some tips and tricks for life in the desert and winter weather. He also brought a spirit of lighthearted humor that is unique in the group.

We set out on a hike that proved to be a growth opportunity for the group. The Ulurus pushed through perceived physical limitations, and we made our way to our new site with a sense of empowerment gained by such an experience. The students recognized even greater potential in themselves than they had previously realized. This powerful moment was followed by a lesson in communication as we set up our shelter. As we faced the clock to set shelter up before sundown, the students had to navigate the challenges of compromising pride and combining two different setup methods to make one cohesive plan to get the job done. They were able to let loose and joke and sing by the fire that night, which brought a levity to the day that was beneficial to everyone, including the guides.

After the unifying experiences, the students showed up for each other with a deeper understanding of one another. Each of them had an opportunity to provide emotional support and show care for one another as they navigated complex emotions at different points throughout the day. They also showed excellent teamwork as we navigated through the shorter winter daylight hours to tackle necessary camp duties.

Read Past "Wilderness Weekly" Posts

Wilderness Weekly 3.3.23

Photo Credite: Alyssa, “ERV” @ outBACK Goannas: This week the Goannas started out with enthusiasm and spirit. Welcoming in a new student with joy and

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Wilderness Weekly 2.25.23

Goannas: The Goannas had an exciting week filled with beautiful sights. adrenaline fueled games, and stunning conflict resolution skills. The Goannas went far this week

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COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.