This week the Goannas received ample opportunities to grow as they played games, busted coals, resolved conflicts, cooked fancy dessert meals, and mentally processed letters they had received. At the start of the week Golden Season held a naming ceremony for staff member who accepted their new field name as Fierce Glacier. Partway through the week, the group was excited about a day hike in search for an old abandoned cabin. They never found the cabin, but they did get to explore the area between Indian Peak and Red Pine mountains which contained a run down ranch. In addition, they enjoyed playing a version of two hand touch football with a hacky sack in a clearing they had discovered.
One of the students led a very powerful gathering on some low moments that we had all experienced and how our own struggles can cause stress on our relationships with those around us. Another student led a gathering on the lessons they learned from “The Alchemist” and posed questions about what path we all felt we were on. On a number of occasions throughout the week the students enjoyed cooking and made everything from baked calzones (which they deemed to be commercial worthy), sweet rice, and a variety of breads. They were also productive in finishing up assignments including first camp books, busting coals, and blowing them into flames. One student even fully completed their fire set! Three students were able to complete their first camp assignments. The Goannas ended the week with a strong logistical team setting up and breaking down camp. Everyone was able to participate in the group and create space for those who struggled.
Tuesday night ended with one of the students leading a gathering which brought insight into what the students would like to gain from the program. The staff shared wisdom of what they wanted to gain from working for outBACK. Finally, the students ended their week at their therapy site sharing some skills that they had created, learning how to hand drill some coals, and playing a big game of “zoogle”. New relationships were formed, some students put aside past grievances, and all felt much closer as a group.
Students in the Pindari embodied the values of growth, mentorship, and ambition this week as they were met with challenges, new experiences, and opportunities to bloom on the mystifying canvas of the desert. A senior student seized initiative in inundating the group with culture and wisdom of the wilderness. The next few days were filled with questioning, curiosity, and guidance. They also stepped up and modeled principles of respecting the wilderness, embracing the therapeutic journey, and developing new skills. The group took a day hike through a beautiful canyon where they found running water persistently resisting the frosts of winter. Throughout our sojourn along the stream, we admired the junction of winter and hints of spring, ice and sunshine, all in the vast bowl of mountains enveloping us.
Gatherings this week were steeped with intention and emotional openness, touching on topics such as vulnerability, the beauty of nature, goals, fear, and much more. The stasis of the Pindari was challenged later in the week, as the group embarked on an unexpected journey that resulted in hiking nearly 5 miles on a day that was planned to be a rest day. Enduring weariness of both mind and body, the group showed patience, perseverance, and care, resisting tension and bickering. In spite of the hurdles and unexpected detours, they came out on the other side stronger and closer, showing a hunger for growth and a desire to come together to pass on the torch to all future Pindari.
Uluru went through a lot of changes this week. They had a goodbye ceremony and welcomed new friends! The group took charge mid week and decided to hold gatherings to discuss the kind of values, culture, and boundaries they want. They also prioritized emotional safety and they held space and supported peers’ placement letters, final week of stay concerns, and anxieties about starting the program. They formed connections and bonds through slumber party stories about their journey and sharing recipes and skills with each other.
Throughout the week they experienced a beautiful hike where they went to the top of a hill and honored a staff person with their trail name. One of the guides led singing sea shanties and other songs. They encountered fun in challenges practicing blowing coals into flames and time challenges to pack up camp–they tried to beat their previous record for getting themselves and their group chores prepared for the hikes. The students played a lot of “dogs” this week and greatly enjoyed having fun together as a group. We also prioritized skills work. There was a huge focus on baking this week: they made cornbread, cinnamon bread, and garlic bread to name a few. Uluru pride and confidence is strong and they are excited going into the next week!
This week on peak we had the joy hanging out with Unbroken Bear and Insightful Willow, while a small group had its challenges, they overcame everything we threw at them. This included setting up shelter all by themselves and start fires without the benefits of a big group to fall back on. Our first gathering centered around the idea of getting to know eachother but developed into a more vulnerable discussion than most introduction circles. This set the tone for the week and created a strong group culture between staff and students. On our road trip South we reintroduced some old coping skills AKA, music.
On our voyage down South we went rock climbing and rappelling around the St. George area (Southwestern Utah). Students excelled at rock climbing and succeeded on nearly every climb. We had a lot of good discussions regarding climbing and how to overcome defeat and conquer fears. It was also cool to see how willing and trusting students were to belay each other and how seriously they took it. We spent 2 days climbing and each climb increased in difficulty. Every climb we threw at the students, they never gave up. The last climb we tried was very difficult– didn’t want to give up! They tried and while the whole climb was not completed, they felt successful for the effort they put in. The students showed relentless effort and it proved their resilience and bravery. The week ended with a beautiful gathering around reentering the group and how to become leaders/mentors to the rest of the students. We also presented students with the Peak patch which represents that they completed peak and a reminder that they are now tasked with the responsibility of being a leader in the group for newer students.