Wilderness Weekly 12.11.20

Mountain covered in snow in Utah

Pindaris: The Pindaris started off the first week strong and the students were eager to welcome in the new of their fellow Pindaris from first camp. By the second day, they were able to mentor the two boys and have them join the group officially. On Thanksgiving day, the boys not only were surprised with a hike free day, they were also given a full Thanksgiving day meal including turkey, rolls, stuffing, and individual pies. During the hike days, the group hiked well and was able to get to their site quickly. During the second week, the group started to move through a “storming phase” of group development. The students worked through how they were feeling during one of their gatherings and made sure that everyone was respectable and mature. The group also said goodbye to one of their fellow Pindaris and though they were excited for him to transition onto his next adventure, the group also felt the loss of having a dear group member and friend leave the group. The Pindaris continued to crush their hikes throughout the week and were able to peak one of the smaller mountains in the field. By the end of the week, one student received the truth seeking token and another received the making amends token. The students also gave their field dog the trail name of Rampid Raccoon and were excited to settle into a space of resolution within the group. . 

Gnowees:  The Gnowees celebrated a truly memorable Thanksgiving, complete with a surprise hike-free day, turkey, stuffing, rolls, and an assortment of pies. That evening, the Gnowees drew “turkey hands” and reflected on the aspects of life that they are most grateful for this year. The rest of the first week included several solid hike days, meaningful gatherings, and games around the campfire, as well as a busting challenge where students separated into two teams and raced to see which group could have each team member blow into flame first.

The second week in the field, the Gnowees came together to streamline camp chores and packing and worked together to get into our campsites before the sun set, three out of four times during the expedition days. One day, the Gnowees had the chance to enjoy a day hike to visit a nearby herd of wild horses. The group spent the afternoon admiring these majestic animals from a safe distance. Before returning to camp, a student was honored with the Gnowee token. The rest of the week was filled with many more heartfelt token ceremonies, during which both students and staff were honored. The Gnowees ended the week at a beautiful therapy campsite, with lots of soft grasses, plentiful firewood, and a view of the surrounding mountains. Overall it was an inspiring two weeks in the desert, full of meaning, challenge, and adventure. 

Goannas:  The Goannas had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving in the field. They were so excited when they found turkey, stuffing mix, and pies by the road. Students shared what they were thankful for, and most students were very focused on all the things they are thankful for about their home and their families. After sharing gratitude, they had a feast with friends around the fire. The Goannas spent a lot of their time playing games together, learning how to play Magic the Gathering with one of the staff members and competing against each other. One of them also created a chess board and pieces out of a blue foam sleeping pad and cut out pieces of leather. He noted that this was the highlight of his week. Near the end of the first week, the group found out that some of the members would be moving onto the next part of their journey beyond outBACK. Although there were feelings of excitement for the news, due to the bonds formed amongst the crew members, the goodbye was bittersweet. The Goannas honored their departing members with goodbye ceremonies, and two of the departing Goannas received one of the greatest Outback honors of all, the Goanna group token. This token represents the embodiment of outBACK and Goanna culture; working on and improving relationships with family, peers and self.

With the shift that comes with transition, comes the natural shift in group culture. The Goannas moved through a “norming phase” within the group dynamic and collaboration increased amongst the group. The one on one time with peers and staff supported this level of connection during this shift in group dynamic. The students stepped up to the challenge of completing what was necessary for their Goannas Community to continue to thrive, and did so by supporting each other physically and emotionally. During the expedition portion of the week, the group hiked far across the desert to position themselves at the base of a major mountain called Red Pine, and then day hiked to the summit, at 8516 feet of elevation. They had to contend with multiple “false summits” and at each false summit, students realized they had farther to go to reach the summit. Therapeutically, this specific hike helped to create a pivotal connection where the students correlated the climb within their own journey of personal development. Students also worked really hard on a busting challenge. They dedicated a lot of time each day practicing, and every student improved significantly over the course of the week. Ultimately, all the students got flames!

Ulurus:  This shift in the Ulurus, the group began the expedition week by hiking toward the base of Indian Peak. A rest day was enjoyed before summiting and staff surprised the group with a Thanksgiving feast complete with Turkey and camp-fire cooked stuffing.

Several elders were able to participate on a “solo” experience where they set up a personal camp space separate from the main group in order to spend time reflecting as their journeys came to a close. They prepared as well to begin Peak week before officially transitioning beyond outBACK. The younger members wished the elders well and prepared to fill the shoes as guides for newcomers. Also, two members of the group were honored with their trail names; Vibrant Butterfly and Blossoming Lotus.

As the week progressed, the Ulurus hiked towards the Simpsons Springs range. We cross-country hiked through some beautiful scenery and caves and the students really pushed themselves hiking up the canyon. They worked hard to get camp set up before sunset and evenings were spent huddled around the campfire after busting with integrity.

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Check Out What’s Happening In 1st Camp @ outBACK

This week at 1st camp students adjusted to life at outBACK by working hard in the desert and in the cooler temperatures. Each student who came through left to their groups prepared to contribute and further their therapeutic journey. Games were played nightly and many wood gathering runs for fire provided beautiful views of the surrounding area. 

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Peak Week – Adventure Therapy @ outBACK

This week on peak was one full of energy, activity, and travel. We started our week out by sitting in ceremony with our large group and setting some goals and expectations for our adventurous week ahead. Our first stop was in Goblin Valley State Park. While in Goblin we played games, did some hikes, and explored caves. Afterwards, we headed down south to St, George for the climbing progression of Peak Week.

The various gatherings we held as a peak crew focused on topics centering around family dynamics, thoughts and/or concerns on life beyond wilderness, or the various triggers that presented themselves throughout the week. Our peak crew became more vulnerable and open each night as the students gained more comfort in the reminders of the who they are, what they are capable of accomplishing, and the commitments they are making to themselves as they they step towards what lies ahead. During one of our last days on peak week, a student was inspired to create a sacred space and honor two of his fellow group mates. It was a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony. Each student was honored in a transition ceremony and were presented with the Peak Patch for all the work they had done with us on peak and at outBACK as a whole.

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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.