Wilderness Weekly 2.10.23

Photo Credit: Trevor Allen, CMHC - Primary Therapist


The theme of the week for the Goannas this week was family. Everything about it. Chosen family, given family, and trail family. Each member of the group experienced something relating to family. Through the joys of being together and the struggles of cooperation, each member displayed growth and resilience as they learned how to navigate being in relationship with others.

Dreaded Phoenix and Gay Racoon both had family visits that were both welcomed and filled with anxiety. Visits can bring forth an array of emotions. Students called their parents over with bullroarers and parents left the road to find them. Students shared their favorite wilderness recipes, crafts, and practical jokes with their parents, and they talked about the highs and lows that inevitably come with any path towards healing. They sought ways to improve their dynamics and discussed what the future held.

The rest of the group reflected on their own families. Sharing stories about adoption, family conflict, and homesickness. Newer members shared their life stories, bearing their hearts as they shared with the group. Those who had visits or family expeditions gave a gathering about their experiences.

The group developed a strong bond and discovered they were a wilderness therapy family. They realized they had similar experiences and goals in life. They shared meals, recipes, and group tasks together. When they had successes, they shared it with each other. When one member struggled the group navigated through them together. They shared the same jokes and goofed around. When they disagreed, they found resolutions quickly. Despite their various individual struggles outside of desert living, they became a solid family unit within the desert.

Some members displayed great leadership in their trail family and displayed great mentorship as they also passed off some responsibilities to others. A highlight of the week was the evenings spent in shelter playing DND (an interactive storytelling game) by firelight. Multiple members of the group had their own campaigns and characters. They played with different genres like fantasy and zombie apocalypse. Characters rarely died (besides the outgoing guides who were torn apart by zombies) and were rewarded with fun fantasy weapons like a crossbow that shoots lint. They fought enemies and worked together to get riches and survive. The Goannas had little interest in any other game because the stories they told were so captivating.

Gravitating Quetzal spent his final days at outBACK making spoons for each member of the group and made a point to make sure he would be remembered. Goannas shared that he would be missed dearly and wished him well on his next adventures.

The week concluded with ceremonies to honor the students. The tokens given were Giver, Brightness, Strong Cord, and Vital Fire. Some were given by guides and others were given by students. Giver was given to a student who shared his time and creative energy with the group. Brightness was given to a student who always had a positive outlook on his situation. Strong Cord was given to an excellent logistical leader who learned much about working with a group and inner strength with his family. Vital Fire was given to the emotional leader who was “vital” to the group as they knew it.


It is well established that delayed gratification is consistently more rewarding to its benefactor than habitual indulgences. This tenet holds especially true in a primal wilderness setting. As dwellers in this snowy midwestern desert of ours, it is wise to ration our most delectable foodstuffs until our stock can be replenished. This reality teaches us the important lesson of delayed gratification, relinquishing satisfaction now for a greater reward later. When we fail in this aspect, however, there is still experience to be gained from it. When deprived of anything we take for granted in our life we are instilled automatically with a deeper appreciation for it.  Not only is this an important lesson but it is rewarding in its own right, the satisfaction of reuniting with a belated lifely pleasure is always enjoyed far more than otherwise.

Adventure Expedition is an opportunity for students to push their limits outside their typical comfort zones, well-seasoned with wanderlust and spiced with good ol’ fashion fun. As we headed to our destination, we watched the landscape transition from a winter scape to that of a comparatively tropical region, warm and laden with unique forms of life. Joshua trees, giant cacti, and rock as red as oxidizing iron. In Utah, palm trees live in juxtaposition with the places known to have “the best snow on Earth.”

Our first day of adventure expedition began with a morning meditation, a reflection and contemplation of guilt, regrets and demons in our life followed by an exercise of letting them go. We scoured the shores of a glistening reservoir for smooth skipping stones for which we could attach the symbolic weight of our woes. We gathered together and one by one announced the significance of each stone and proceeded to cast them into the depths. Following this exercise, we made our way towards the base of a magnificent hike through a seemingly alien region that boasted a motley of colors. Black volcanic ravines alongside red desert protrusions that ascended into white chiseled granite mountains. We crossed rock formations that shared an uncanny resemblance to the scaly back of an ancient sleeping dragon. The group remarked on its interpreted quality of intentional design and uncanny features. The group took time to sit alone, stew and ponder amongst intricate rocky structures and peer down at the never-before-seen sublime sights.

The next day began, the sun cast dynamic shadows upon the dust bowl in which our encampment was based. Stunning, awe-inspiring flora littered the desert scape before us. The group prepared that morning for an ascent to our next activity: climbing. Some were scared, most were giddy with excitement, and all were bewildered by the fact that we were hot! After getting accustomed to life in the heart of winter, we were all in conversation about the strangeness of such a change. Every member of the group, even the one now known as Universal Meerkat (who had a veritable fear of heights) ascended the grand rock wall to its apex and waved down with shouts and hoots with a victorious resonance. The group started the day questioning their trust in each other and themselves, and quickly learned that through hard work together, they were able to conquer their fears and reach their goals.

The Kangaroos gathered round the life-giving fire and spoke of our exploits on adventure and discussed deep and complicated topics of life at home and ghosts of the past, aiding each other in a combined effort to process and digest them, it was like a therapy party.

The last days of our exciting week with this group of outstanding young humans, were met with two beautiful ceremonies for tokens and trail names. Unity and teamwork beamed bright in the hearts of our Kangaroos as we honored the group in our sacred ceremonies. Three of the Roo’s received intentional and thoughtful names that the group decided upon. Big shoutout to our newest, Stoic Silverback, Trueborn Diamondback, and Universal Meerkat. Trueborn Diamondback was also honored with an openness token, for his vulnerability and willingness to open his heart to his peers, which has sent ripple effects of creating a safe space for the Roos to open up as well. Groovy Goat earned the Maker token, for his creative and artistic abilities demonstrated through his crafting skills. Powerful Mule was also honored with a challenge token wrapped in leather and sinew, for being on his way to earning the Making Amends token. He has been working hard to develop a practice of taking accountability for his actions, and to find the power in seeking forgiveness and understanding from himself, and those around him. We are so proud of each of our Roos and how much progress they continue to make each week. The growth in these students is undeniable, and a privilege to witness. We feel gratitude and a strong sense of pride in our hearts here at outBACK, just to be a part of these young people’s journeys. That concludes another majestic week here at the place where the sky meets the horizon, and the Juniper trees bear witness to our memorable chapter in our lives.


Très, san, three. Three was the magic number this week. You may be wondering “why three?” Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Ulurus had not yet reached the goal of completing three separate hikes during backcountry expeditions in quite some time., Yet this week, we believed that it was going to be different. We frontloaded the Ulurus on this goal, a challenge, if you will and thus, the challenge was accepted.

Before our first hike day we started with a morning meditation and spent the day working on our skills. We crafted backpack straps, wooden spoons, necklaces, and custom tokens. One Uluru even began making a wooden Yoda! We slept under a starry night and listened to the coyotes howl in the distance. On the first day of our backcountry expedition, we left no trace before starting our excursion, as per usual for the Ulurus. We traveled down the dirt road to our site as the sun was setting. We built a ground fire and made french fries out of our potatoes and butter in a dutch oven.

On the second day of our backcountry expedition, we had a bit of a late start as we had to commence with a high-speed game of ninja and tossed around the Zoogle stick. Kind Boulder wanted to process what the day was going to look like for us, and we appreciated that he wanted to be as prepared as possible. Once processing and playing games had concluded, we embarked on our second hike. Some of the guides and a thrifty Uluru went ahead of the group and built the shelter before the rest of us made it to the site. Walking towards a site with a canvas shelter already set up was a welcoming sight.

We rose to the third day of our backcountry expedition with the wonderful sounds of birds chirping and coyotes howling with a much warmer day than we previously experienced this week. This and a warm breakfast were a welcome start for the group. We pushed forward and persevered towards another site that would help us reach our goal of completing three hikes on this expedition. Finally, we prepared for an extensive ceremony that would take place the following day.

We rose to a snowy site where we worked together to put up tarps to keep ourselves warm and dry. This led to a much-needed Ngarrna party in shelter later that morning. After a warm breakfast we finished preparing for the ceremony we planned the previous day. One of the guides gave a new member of the Ulurus the maker token. We finished the week with a magnificent feedback circle where we reflected on our experiences and helped each other grow through our observations of each other. All-in-all, the Ulurus humbly embraced a week of challenge and triumph. All we as guides could do was standby to witness this group in their blazing glory.



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Wilderness Weekly 2.25.23

Goannas: The Goannas had an exciting week filled with beautiful sights. adrenaline fueled games, and stunning conflict resolution skills. The Goannas went far this week

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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.