Wilderness Weekly 11.19.22

Goannas:

The Goannas had the chance to experience an Adventure Expedition this week. While some of the students had already experienced an adventure expedition at outBACK, the rest were ready for the unknown high adventures to come. Prior to beginning our adventure-based expedition, the group met to go over expectations for this week and what it might feel like to support one another through fear and excitement. We played a group bonding game and headed for bed full of anticipation. We were able to connect with one of our adventure coordinators and embarked on our excursion that would take us to St. George.

Students were excited to listen to “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, and when we arrived, we enjoyed a delicious meal together to set us up for the next day. We awoke the next morning and began our preparation for our rock-climbing progression. Students were taught how to belay and learned about the care and safety that comes with this sport and we were off with our first students getting on the rock wall. While some students went swiftly and easily, others felt scared and needed more coaching. Everyone worked to build trust with one another through belaying and communicating support and needs throughout the day. Later that night, guides led a gathering about our hardest “climbs” in life, and what people or things “belay” us, or support us during our hardest climbs. This prompt opened the group up to one another and the vulnerability started to spill out.

Our adventure expedition led us to Red Rocks Recreation area where we explored a beautiful canyon and held a gathering about freedom– the freedom we find within ourselves, the freedom granted from others, and how we can earn trust and freedom. While adventuring around the rocks, we reflected on what it means to earn back trust and freedom throughout our life adventures. As the sun set, we gave a student his trail name: Authentic Raven. We also honored a special guide with the Vital Fire token.

We were also able to add an activity that involved exploring the inside of some cool lava tubes and climbing into small spaces. Some students felt scared and learned to manage their fear in the lava tubes. We processed how the level of hesitation and fear when entering the dark tunnels stemmed from how it challenged their other senses to navigate the uneven ground. Yet, the group was able to navigate through it by relying on more than just their eyesight and worked to communicate with one another and trust that communication.

We closed out our adventure expedition by heading over to some sand dunes for some sand boarding. Everyone took a turn, and while some shredded (and even got some air), others mostly just rolled down the dunes in bliss. To be able to revel in the joy and laughter of play was a wonderful experience to have witnessed as guides as well as for the group as a team. Everyone was tired and happy when we went back to the field, and after setting up shelter we got cozy in sleeping bags, started a fire in our stove, and slept soundly back in the field.

Roos:

Winter has finally come and just as the seasons change so do group dynamics. We started the week with a goodbye ceremony for a student who took this program to heart and a few other Kangaroos were able to begin their week with visits from their parents. The reunions were warm and harmonious, and it was lovely to see students reunite with their families. We even welcomed in a new member to the group!

As a group, we committed to a specific mission during our backcountry expedition: to complete three pack hikes together. We identified a potential barrier in completing this mission, due to some members holding fear of the wintry weather. The group created space to honor this understandable concern of how to manage all their belongings, learn to navigate through elements they had not ever had to before, and recognize how it can feel intimidating. It was a great discussion on how in the process of naming our fears, we can allow ourselves to seek support from others and see that we are not alone in trying to move through our fears. That it is in the act of facing our fears that we can gain confidence in ourselves and peak the mountains in our lives both metaphorically and physically.

Our trek through the desert led us to our destination and eventual therapy site for our layover days. The Roos also knocked out two day hikes that both led to ceremonies. In the first ceremony a student and a guide received trail names; the guide was named Calm Moon Halo and student was named Compassionate Coyote. The other ceremony involved Roo members receiving tokens that highlighted their accomplishments. A challenge token, which was the Maker token, was given to the newest Roo. The Roos welcomed this new Roo with open arms and worked together in all things. 

Ulurus:

This week started with a ceremony honoring a student and a guide with a trail name. The student was named Resilient Mountain and the guide was named Legendary Snapping turtle. We were able to incorporate three hikes into our backcountry expedition this week. While on our second hike we got to see a comet, which was one of the coolest highlights for the group! The group completed an epic day of hiking during our week together and the students did it with great efficiency! To celebrate, we had a big bonfire at the end of our week, and we also had to chance to hold another ceremony honoring a guide with a trail name of Selfless Armadillo.

Throughout the week, we had many meaningful gatherings. The Ulurus took each gathering seriously and shared honest and meaningful input during feedback gatherings. The Ulurus did struggle this week when it came to effectively communicating with one another as well as stumbling over how best to work together. This led to brainstorming and recommending a buddy system that the group decided to try. While utilizing this buddy system, the Ulurus did a much better job at taking care of various responsibilities and growing their friendships in a healthy manner; they did a fantastic job at working together. They each paired themselves with someone with complementary strengths to balance each other out and the community triumphed as they worked on problem-solving, communicating, and learning more about one another. Overall, there was personal growth for each one of the Ulurus this week.

Boom:

Some might assume a boom is a reference to the distant sounds of explosions that can ripple across the roaming grounds. This is in fact, however, not the case. A boom at outBACK refers to the ways of the boomerang. Goin’ off and comin’ on back. Such is the way of the boomerang. And so it was that the boomerang students began their journey hither and thither.

It began with a great downpour that quickly shifted the dry high desert land into one that was cold and wet. Amid such a change, the group saw it as an opportunity for us all to test our grit and mettle in the face of adversity. The fellowship of the boomerang proved themselves to be quite resourceful, using mud to effectively cover up the traces of our camp upon leaving as well as making gatorade slushies!

The week was packed with hikes that took us to uninhabited nooks and crannies in the field. One such site featured a tableau of slanted landscapes. Our efficient teamwork proved to be beneficial in completing all the necessary tasks in setting up and securing our shelters and camp sites throughout the week. We spent our nights in our warm shelter telling stories.

It was a week of introspection and reflection as the theme of our week was identity and some of the sites we found ourselves in were ones where our students first found themselves at the beginning of their outBACK journey. Having been present for these students’ start at ourBACK, it was remarkable to have witnessed the degree of growth the students had made. We ended the week with a lovely hike through a valley at the foot of one of the iconic mountains at outBACK: Red Pine.

Read Past "Wilderness Weekly" Posts

Wilderness Weekly 12.3.22

Goannas: The Goannas started off the week with a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, where they enjoyed some delicious turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes, rolls and pumpkin/apple

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Wilderness Weekly 11.19.22

Goannas: The Goannas had the chance to experience an Adventure Expedition this week. While some of the students had already experienced an adventure expedition at

Read More »

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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.