Wilderness Weekly 12.10.22

Goannas:

Greetings from the Goannas! This week brought some challenging weather. For some of the Goannas, this was their first desert snowstorm and it was also something that cultivated closer bonds. Some of the group member’s parents had the chance to experience this weather as they made their way out for their parent visits this week. Through it all, the Goannas persevered and came out thriving as a crew. They worked together to show the newer members of the group the ropes of desert living, exhibited a great deal of adaptability as they hiked throughout their backcountry expedition, and came together as a community to get things accomplished. The group also showed dedication in working on therapeutic assignments, practicing various indigenous skills, and having fun along the way. The Goannas spent time working on their busting sets, leather work, and had many snowball fights in the snow.

The logistical leader of the group was away spending quality time with their family for part of the week. This left an opportunity for someone to step up and fill in that role and yet rather than having the responsibility temporarily fall on one person, the group made an intentional choice to hold one another accountable and to help each other with the day-to-day tasks of each day. Towards the end of the week, we took a morning walk up a nearby hill to celebrate a Goanna with a trail naming ceremony. The group shared what they valued in this group member and the name “Keystone Kodiak” was chosen. We enjoyed the snow-capped mountain views and headed back down to main camp for breakfast. Upon the return of their parent visits, the group gathered to listen to their parent visit experiences. Students were able to open up in a healthy space to talk about and process their feelings; all of which was incredibly powerful.

Roos:

The Kangaroos had an amazing week filled with adventure. The week started off with a goodbye ceremony honoring Groovy Baboon. Each student held the space for the ceremony and the group burst into a snowball fight right before returning to camp. Some of the newer Roos started working on their busting sets this week. After a few nights in the field, the group ribbed up their belongings with cordage and headed south to begin their adventure expedition.

On the way south the group stopped at Meadow Lava Tubes and went caving. The Roos squeezed through cracks and explored deep into the dark tunnels. The guides led a sensory deprivation meditation where all lights were cut out in a deep part of the cave. The Roos felt very calm, and their anxieties seemed to drift away for a brief time. The group decided to do a few more “lights out” gatherings at night during the week to de-stress. The group ventured further south and went on a hike through the Red Cliffs. The Roos saw arches, indigenous cave art, and fossilized dinosaur footprints throughout the hike. The group supported each other well, especially through the steep canyons where we utilized a rope system to traverse the inclined walls.

As we continued our Adventure Expedition, we made our way to a valley overlooking the St. George desert for some rock climbing. They had to trust their student belay partner as they climbed, especially during the challenging climbs that included overhangs. Much like in life where we face times of uncertainty and a kind of fear that can overwhelmingly take over, the Roos were able to pull from the solid communications skills they have been practicing to not only share their needs but to establish trust amongst one another. Each student reflected on their time on the rock and how their trust in their fellow Roos increased from the experience. As our adventure expedition ended, students were faced with another challenge of trusting themselves.

This challenge came in the form of rappelling, and we rappelled over 80 feet while overlooking the desert communities of St. George. Each of the students that rappelled spoke about the level of confidence they felt as they leaned into trusting their own capabilities. They spoke of the sense of assurance they felt, knowing how they were in control of their own descent down the climbing rope. The students discussed challenging moments in their own lives and how the challenges they overcame throughout this adventure expedition could relate to their relationships back home. The group cooked together during each day of adventure and enjoyed using new ingredients as they showed off their culinary skills and cooked for each other. Once the group’s mouths were full of flavored pancakes and sticky syrup, the Roos headed back up north.

The Roos exemplified leadership and took pride in their new campsite as they transitioned back into the backcountry; especially given their ability to set things up in challenging weather. It was much colder than the rest of the week, yet the Roos kept their spirits high and supported each other it all. Our last evening together brought about a very meaningful gathering that made the connection between the students even stronger. Good things are on the horizon for the Kangaroos. The group continues to be one that excels and is a place of emotional safety for each member.

Ulurus:

This week our Uluroostic students traversed the majestic wintery plains alongside their fellow wilderness explorers and guides. Although the days have become shorter and colder, their bright spirits and sense of unity shine as warm as ever! The week began with great displays of teamwork and community as our students worked alongside one another to build shelters, harvest materials for tools, and help each other pack and transport their items from site to site. This group of students carries a deep compassion and empathy for one another that was truly touching and heartwarming to witness.

Every serious moment of growth and character development was equally matched with silliness and fun to spare. Our beloved Ulurus made the most of the freshly fallen snow, making sculptures, snowmen, and making snow cones with Gatorade. One of our best days involved an exciting and spontaneous snowball fight during a rest on our hike. Laughs filled the air, and hearts glowed as we played in the powder. The nights were met with intentional and thoughtful reflection as we sipped warm tea around the fire.

This golden week with our Ulurus concluded with a beautiful token ceremony, in which our students recognized one another, and acknowledged their strengths with encouraging and touching words. Our two most senior Ulurus really demonstrated confident yet humble leadership skills in running this meaningful ceremony dutifully. We are so proud of all the progress and hard work that these students put in this week and are so excited to see how much further they will go.

Boom:

We had a boom-tastic week! We set up main camp and shelter and had a busting hour, where the student busted a super big coal. We were able to enjoy a warm and sunny day, so we decided to go on a day hike and found the end of a long, winding road. While on the hike we found tracks for a coyote, pronghorn, rabbit, and snake! After the hike we started assembling a busting set which includes a bow, a bottom board, a top rock, and a spindle. We practiced our busting every night and made some great progress. Later that night we had a wonderful gathering where we talked about finding strength within ourselves and creating a solid foundation within that we can rely on throughout our lives. We also found ourselves in a beautiful snow storm this week. We had a chance to pack up camp, hike to a new site, and set up a new place to call “home” for a while. After we had camp set up, we had a snowball fight!

This week also brought us a chance to learn how to use surface fires to dig fire pits when the ground is frozen. Then we searched for a juniper branch to carve into spoons. Throughout the week, we focused on collusion cycles, what they are, how to recognize you are in one, and how to break out of the cycles. At the end of our week together, we created and facilitated an honoring ceremony. A student was honored with the Openness token for being so willing to share and for being unapologetically themselves throughout the week. It is incredibly difficult to be so open and honest, especially as a teenager, so the guides wanted to ensure those traits were acknowledged and celebrated.

Read Past "Wilderness Weekly" Posts

Wilderness Weekly 1.14.23

Photo Credit: Trevor Allen, CMHC – Primary Therapist Goannas: This week the Goannas started off with the group saying farewell to their most senior group

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