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 pie. Everyone had enough food to fill their tummies and then some in what was an epic feast. Though everyone was missing home for the holiday, the thanksgiving dinner allowed them to eat as a Goanna family and gave them a sense of community in their group.
The first hike of our backcountry expedition was a longer one that came with some challenges, yet everyone persevered through it and did amazingly. Our next hike was a shorter one, and the Goannas absolutely crushed it. Young Lemur was proactive in planning the pack up and the logistics of the hike with guides that made everything flow quite smoothly. Packing went so well that there was enough time for everyone to grab their hot morning beverages and hangout for a bit to mentally prepare for the hike. Once the group made it to camp, they split themselves up into groups to conquer the different tasks to set up camp. The group’s ability to lead themselves and take the necessary initiatives to accomplish things was wonderful to witness as guides. During our down time, the Goannas filled their need for fun by playing a lot of games. The big game of the week was camouflage, which is a game where the students try to get to the counter without being spotted. The Goannas loved this game and took advantage of any opportunity to play. The other game we played was a movie game. This game was run by a guide who considers themselves quite the movie buff. One person would think of a movie, and the group would ask a series of yes or no questions until they could figure out the movie or give up.
There was a nice gathering on Thanksgiving relating to what the students were thankful for in their lives. One of the gatherings led by a guide was called “If You Really Knew Me”. It was a discussion that allowed the students to explore and share things about themselves that no one knew about them and emotions they had not expressed aloud to anyone before. This turned into a beautiful moment for all of us to understand one another better and to expand the growing trust between each other. Later in the week, one of the senior group members led a gathering with emotion cards, where one could utilize them to express which emotions they were feeling. Overall, the group created an optimal space for elevated levels of comfort in sharing their feelings during our gatherings.
The Goannas had a wonderful week filled with laughter, thankfulness, and deep, meaningful emotions. The group ran efficiently and effortlessly this week. This sense of community found in the group will connect them throughout their stay and continue to deepen over time.
This week in the Kangaroos was full of good weather, food, games, gatherings, and skills. The group was supportive of one another and found many moments to bond.
We had a chance to hike three times throughout our backcountry expedition. The weather was great, the sun was out, and everyone got to enjoy the views of the snow-covered peaks surrounding the desert. Along with the pleasant weather and one of the camp sites we hiked to, came the opportunity to harvest new materials for skills. A popular skill this week has been rings carved from juniper trees, mountain mahogany trees, and bone. Other students found new bows for their bow drill fire sets, carved new spoons, and even made necklaces from wood with cool designs and bullet casings found in the desert.
Thanksgiving was celebrated over delicious food for anyone to enjoy and each student helped cook a portion of the meal. We made sweet potatoes with brown sugar, buttered corn, a whole turkey, rolls, stuffing, an apple pie, and two pumpkin pies. The group also played games like Camouflage, which is like red light green light, but all the students have to hide from the one student who must find them before they get tagged. The group also played some Hoops, a game like basketball using a rock and a can.
Throughout the week some of the students took turns leading the gatherings. Each one was super meaningful, and everyone was open and shared their thoughts and feelings. Goofy Baboon led two gatherings, one on self-love and another on impulses and how they impact our lives and relationships. Grounded Bear led a gathering on what it means to be open minded. Finally, Compassionate Quandale led a gathering on box styles. Everyone was asked to share what box they find themselves in most, to provide an example of the box in which they find themselves, and what they may need to help them get out of the box in the future. It was awesome to see the students taking turns in leading such meaningful gatherings. Each one was immensely powerful.
The Kangaroos also honored one of our fellow guides with a token, the maker token. This was chosen by the students because this guide is not only amazing at making/creating things, but also a maker of environments where people feel heard and can have fun. This week was full of good experiences, powerful bonding moments, great food, lots of laughs, working on both physical, mental, and interpersonal skills, and building lasting memories.
Adventure Expedition proved itself to be a wonderful opportunity for the Ulurus to focus on pushing themselves out of their comfort zones this week. They kicked off their adventuring with a day at the Little Sahara sand dunes, shredding down the hills on sand boards. While at the end of the day, we all had a blast getting caked in sand, it did prove to be a challenge for several students to push through some of the learning pains of figuring out how to fight friction and really get flying down the dunes. They were able to find many ways to enjoy the experience, and everyone came out with sandy smiles. It was an awesome lesson in being able to adjust our expectations based on the situation.
The Ulurus were able to gather over the fire to share gratitude and enjoy an amazing Thanksgiving meal that consisted of smoked turkey, stuffing, corn, sweet potatoes, rolls, and apple pie. It was a special moment for them to be able to share the holiday together and express their appreciation for each other and for their individual journeys.
The Ulurus also had the chance to listen to The Anatomy of Peace during our adventure expedition, and throughout the week, they each expressed some of the insights they gained from it, sharing some of their own struggles with hearts at war and searching for hearts at peace. We continued our high adventure-based expedition with a rock-climbing progression. Students learned the components of how to keep each other safe during our climbing day and challenged some of the limited beliefs they held when thinking of what they could do, both physically and mentally. The students actively worked to rewrite their own narratives as they worked through their fear of heights and adjust previously set goals to reach even higher.
Our last Adventure Expedition activity for the week was hiking in Snow Canyon. This ended up being a chance for students to embody perseverance, especially with faced with mental and emotional discomforts that can come with a challenge. Everyone enjoyed clambering on the rocks and taking in the views. Plans were adjusted mid-hike to access another lookout, where everyone took a nice long rest and soaked in the scenery! They also had a chance at the end of the hike to take some time to themselves to reflect on the week, and the students were able to pinpoint some growth points from Adventure.
The Ulurus also came together to honor one of the guides with a trail name. It was a heartfelt ceremony led by one of the Uluru veteran students. The Ulurus welcomed several new students into the group this week. Transitioning from Adventure Expedition into Backcountry Expedition is part of the intentional design within our programming. This one was seamless as everyone ebbed and flowed to help one another out and make each other feel comfortable. Overall, the students experienced a week of learning to adapt, manage ever-changing expectations, and reach beyond their comfort zones.
This week started with an adventure and preparing to share a wonderful thanksgiving dinner with each other. We were able to complete all they needed to set up camp to get comfortable and our new student was adamant about starting a fire and doing his best to bust right away. We got the fire going and roasted turkey, made stuffing, warmed up corn, shared rolls, gratitude, and shared what we were thankful for with one another. We welcomed in another member who brought joy and laughter to the group and provided a deep sense of community along with them. Our week was complete with collecting firewood together, bonding over cooking, helping each other with organizing and enjoying a great hike. As we made our way to our final campsite, we had another fellow member join us and bring even more possibilities for the group.
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