Wilderness Weekly 12.17.22

Photo Credit: Trevor Allen, CMHC - Primary Therapis @ outBACK


This week the Goannas suited up for adventure and escaped the wintry wonderland of our field area! Before taking off on their adventure expedition, the group indulged in a snowball fight of epic proportions. The group had a blast running a huge free-for-all snowball fight as well as epic team battles. After lots of laughter and being exhausted from all the snowball action, the group was ready to make their way to their adventure destination.

On our adventure expedition, the Goannas had the opportunity to do some amazing things, including rock climbing, hikes with stunning views, slacklining, and exploring new areas in lava tubes! Before we began our climbing progression, the group processed the responsibility of belaying and went over proper technique of belaying. When rock climbing, the group faced fears and conquered them as they ascended the sheer walls. One student in particular, Keystone Kodiak, was nervous to begin climbing yet ended up pushing through the difficult routes and making it to the top of nearly every climb he attempted. He ended the session with a newfound enjoyment for climbing. Other Goannas enjoyed climbing along with the trust they felt as they belayed each other up and down the routes.

After climbing, the Goannas got to explore Snow Canyon State Park through two exploratory hikes. One of the areas explored was a slot canyon; a spot in which the group had to play their favorite game, Dogs! On their second hike, the students gazed in awe at the beautiful views of red and white rocks and experienced a deep appreciation for the nature surrounding them. Some students simply sat and took in the incredible view at the end of the hike and enjoyed each other’s company in such a beautiful place.

When it came to slacklining, the experience was new for some of the Goannas, and they cautiously started walking across the wobbly line. While it was a challenging task for most who tried it, the students recognized that with hard work and persistence, it could be possible for someone to overcome the challenge at some point in the future. Later the group got to explore the lava tubes in which they experienced a great gathering about pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and all the benefits that can result from such actions.

Continuing with gatherings, the group also experienced a powerful “If you really knew me” gathering in which they shared things that few or no one knew about them. It was a very deep and vulnerable experience for many of the students in the group, and the gathering brought the group closer together and strengthened their bonds tremendously.

Finally, in addition to the high adventure-based activities that helped to lead us through profound gatherings, the Goannas also loved cooking for each other. The group enjoyed tasty dishes like pesto pasta, pad thai, pancakes, breakfast burritos, and more. The group shared many laughs and great conversations together as they enjoyed each other’s cooking and continued to share those laughs throughout the week. This week of Adventure Expedition was a high point of insightful reflections, fun, and perseverance for many of the students and they look forward to their next big adventure, whether with outBACK or somewhere else in life!


The Kangaroos had a week of rejuvenation with a focus on skills and therapeutic assignments. There was much time for building A frames, busting sets, POS bags and of course busting! At the beginning of the week, the Kangaroos received a new member, and the Roos received him warmly, helping him adjust to life at outBACK by assisting with ribbing, cooking, and completing various assignments given during first camp. During our backcountry expedition, the Goannas completed two hikes that brought us new sights. The group helped and encouraged our newest member acclimate to hiking and life in the high desert. The weather kept us on our toes with wind and snow throughout the week, giving us an extra rest day to practice our radical tarp building skills on a beautiful warmer day post snowfall. Everyone was able to shed a layer and appreciate the fresh snowfall over the mountains. We stayed warm around the fire, telling riddles and playing games while making elaborate meals like “desert chili” and “beanouia”. The theme of the week was identity, and the Kangaroos were all able to share their life stories during gatherings, learning more about each other and what brought them to outBACK. It was beautiful to witness how the groups’ bond strengthened after learning more about one another. We were also able to share in the trail naming ceremony of Rising Tide towards the end of the week and Rising Tide was elated to receive his name.

Ulurus I:

This week our Ulurus were met with a winter wonderland as the snow continued to fall. Students learned the values of both preparation and fun with this snowfall. They spent time gathering wood for the wood burning stove in their wall tents and had fun sledding in this winter wonderland. At night we gathered around the warm, crackling fire to share our thoughts on the day behind us and what we hoped the next would bring. This week, we also saw a lot of crafts as everyone cranked out new wooden spoons, moccasins, and even a leather drawstring bag crafted by one of the Ulurus. Our students marked off two more hikes as they pushed themselves to the wild edges of both the west desert and determination and we saw teamwork like no other. They encouraged one another throughout the backcountry expedition and provided support, whenever it was necessary, to reach our destinations. Resilience was abundant this week as the students pushed through physically and emotionally to show up for themselves and one another, and as always, moments of wisdom were shared around firelight as the sparks of inspiration (and burning juniper branches) blew into the wind. It was an honor for the guides to be with the Ulurus this week and see the exponential growth they exhibit every single day. Our students were inspired by Buzz Lightyear this week as they decided to go to the Ulu-verse….and beyond!

Ulurus II:

The Ulurus started off the week strong with a snowy hike! Some of the students were a bit under the weather and yet they moved through our backcountry expedition as a collective and did so very well. The students stepped up as each other’s support system as they championed and rallied behind one another when needed. This created a powerful sense of group morale and momentum for everyone. The Ulurus were also not shy about helping logistically. Processing wood was always first on the agenda due to the colder temperatures and snowy weather. The Ulurus stayed on top of fire making and harvesting sage spindles and sage bottom boards for busting coals. The group also created what they called a “mega nest” which consisted of a massive weave of juniper bark that held a massive coal that was blown into flames with the help of multiple students.

The Ulurus were great at taking initiative and helping to complete tasks around camp such as sharing wood runs, creating multiple fire pits, and making a main camp fort with the tarps. Often these students knew what needed to get done and completed them without any prompts by guides. The Ulurus also jumped into working on specific skills as members of the group made keepers pouch, started on their pos bags, worked on moccasins, and sewed fanny packs. The group continued to engage with each other by playing games throughout the day. They particularly enjoyed using a chess set made by a previous member of the group.

This week, time was set aside to work on Ngarnas and first camp during our mornings. Due to students using their time diligently, several students completed their first camp assignments. A primary focus throughout the week was reflecting and leaning on the Ulurus group pillars of PREACH; Perseverance, Resilience, Exploration, Accountability, Creativity, and Honesty. Several gatherings were held by both therapists and guides relating back to how these pillars can create positive and healthy group culture. A student shared a letter he had received regarding adventures beyond time at outBACK during one of our gatherings. He really opened up to his peers as he shared the contents of the letter, and the group was incredibly supportive and encouraging of the vulnerability during this gathering. Overall, the Ulurus focused on taking care of themselves, being productive with skill sets and holding each other accountable all while navigating the wintery weather.

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