As the snow melted from the Goanna’s site so did their hearts. The Goannas shared goodbyes with senior members of the group which opened the door for the immergence of a new culture and new beginnings within the group. The Goannas thought long and hard about the kind of environment they wished to create and live in during their stay at outBACK as well as at home. The group decided that they wished to live by hard work and unconditional acceptance. The shift that came with this culture brought in new games and new names as well.
Gatherings pushed personal growth and culture each night. Group members shared the struggles they were having internally with navigating the expectations of their families, the group, and their own social circles at home. They learned how being their authentic self in each situation generally serves them the best. They continued to discuss the path of two ways and principles discussed in Anatomy of Peace, then practiced what they learned in the group throughout the week.
The group pushed ahead putting one foot in front of the other and hiked every day that week. They pushed on their skills and supported Special Star as they transitioned from first camp. The group also sewed all day every day on possibles bags ew3e3er3w scary masks all staples of Goanna culture and style.
The Goannas bestowed upon some of their group mates trail names of the highest honor, literally. The first name given was Multidimensional Super-Massive-Black-Hole named so because he is a person of depth and many dimensions and that his gravitational force and weight holds the group together. The other name Lunar Eclipse was given because he reminded the group of the moon with his emotional and intuitive nature and ability to return after taking time for himself. All these space related names are what make the Goannas out of this world.
Roos - Backcountry Expedition
Beginning this week, the Kangaroos honored Universal Meerkat with an endearing goodbye ceremony. The group was both happy and sad to see him go, but mostly hopeful for new beginnings. On the flip side of things, the Kangaroos also invited new students to the group. The Kangaroos were very inviting, willing to show the newcomers how to cook, and learn various skills. This led to a lovely walk around the desert looking for fire materials, and resources for their journey into becoming a maker. The seniors loved helping the new Roos acclimate to the desert.
The Kangaroos were about to be split in multiple directions. Before saying goodbye, we played fun games together. And all enjoyed a lovely gathering, relating fire to compassion. This helped bring the group together to “stoke the fire of compassion”, and helped reflect on what fires they want to stoke in their lives. Soon after, the group split up temporarily to experience a variety of adventures, and we all wished each other well before departing.
This latest generation of Kangaroos has persevered past a veritable, through-and-through winter epoch. It is common for a student to get a glimpse of the in-between of two seasons, but these soon-departing seniors of the Kangaroos have seen naught but horizons of septentrional snows. This serenely imbued winter season has taught both students and guides lessons of unparalleled gravitas, iron heartedness and resilience in the face of adversary. Now, as the signs of spring begin to announce its forth-coming arrival, we prepare for a new chapter at outBACK with the Kangaroos.
The chapter of this week began with a hike under bliss-blue skies to a very special campsite. There was the place in which several of our most senior Kangaroos began their journeys here at outBACK. The world has a peculiar way of becoming cyclical in its nature and in this case, it was a most fitting place for heartfelt goodbyes. As stated previously, the Kangaroos were briefly split up this week: with Stoic Silverback, Determined Fire Ant and Fiery Roadrunner on Adventure, our two newest members briefly visiting the Uluru group, the one and only Trueborn Diamondback on Family Expo and Groovy Goat on a Solo destined to hike to the place where it all began. This set of circumstances made for a remarkable reunion as each student trickled into that campsite written in metaphorical prelude; to regale each other with their tales of apart experiences.
Our gatherings this week explored various thought-provoking topics. First, in this chapter was one on the dual natures of hope. We discussed how nurturing our hope and holding to it is so incredibly vital in times of faltering and despair but also how placing our hope or too much of it into deceptive goals and influences can be detrimental and lead us astray. Our next gathering was on the topic of perspective/perception, their various frictional elements and interactions in the lives of our students. We paid special attention to the particular shift in perspective our senior students have experienced in their personal values, their character and ideals throughout their stays here at outBACK. We followed up the next day with a student-led gathering regarding patterns of dishonesty. They each shared pertinent moments from their past, far gone and recent, wherein their dishonesty had affected them, others and loved ones negatively. This was followed by a reflection of the consequences those actions carried. The atmosphere of this gathering carried a spirit of reconciliation, having a space for such vulnerability facilitates incredible ways of inspiring change. Finally, we wrapped up the week with our regular feedback gathering which somehow managed to carry more powerful emotions. The students were open and honest with each other about where they thought themselves and their peers could concentrate their efforts in personal growth. Many commendations were proffered, praising each other’s strengths and progress witnessed.
By the end of the week, warm mists of condensation arose from the snowy surfaces of the earth in a serene atmosphere of idealism. This was the aforementioned sign of spring that was foretold. Such a fitting marker to herald another successful week here at outBACK.
Roos - Adventure Expedition
The Kangaroos started this week full of anticipation. After saying goodbye to one crucial member of the group, Universal Meerkat, the adventure Roos set off with the adventure coordinator and headed out for an adventure expedition. We listened to two books: “Hatchet” taught us about being resilient in the wilderness, while “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” taught us to be happy without reason. Everyone was invested in the stories, especially Fiery Roadrunner. After arriving at the site, munching on some yummy tacos, and getting a good night’s sleep, we went out for a day of climbing. Determined Fire Ant had set a goal to finish the climbs he tried despite his fear of heights, and he can proudly say that he met this goal. Stoic Silverback discovered a love for climbing this week, deciding he wants to pursue it more when he leaves the program. After climbing we all debriefed the day, sharing our own hardships as metaphors for “climbs” and those who support us as belayers. That evening, Fiery Roadrunner led a gathering about being grateful for the things we have. One thing we could all agree on was that we were grateful to be together under the clear night sky with a full bright moon and frogs croaking in the creek to our left. It was a peaceful night. The next day we explored Red Cliffs Recreation Area. After a look at some ancient dinosaur tracks, our hike was overwhelmingly beautiful. Rocks the color of a sunset rolled like giant waves as we explored ancient petroglyphs from the Shivwits Band of Paiutes Native American tribe. We climbed up onto the rocks and adventured in the true sense of the word. We threw rocks off a ledge into a river and walked and splashed in the river with bare feet. After the hike we did an activity in the sand where each person learned about our leadership styles and how they integrate with a team. Everyone was content and sleepy at the end of the day, ready for a hearty meal of stir fry noodles and sleep. During our final adventure expedition day, we explored lava tubes in Snow Canyon State Park. Descending into the cave was daunting and exciting, and as we navigated through dark, small spaces we each discovered things to be excited about. The adventure expedition came to an end that night, but no one left feeling sad. Each of us–staff and students–learned about community, passion, authenticity, resilience and gratefulness.
The Ulurus began the week well rested and ready to get the week started. The group spent time working with Greg, the primary therapist, and having a productive group appreciating what each of us had to say. After a good night’s sleep, we started the next day ready to clean up camp and get to hiking. With the bright sun sparkling on the snow, we started our one and only hike which gave everyone a fresh dose of energy and life. After a fun-filled afternoon of hiking and setting up camp we enjoyed a welcome fire and warm dinner to fill our bellies. The Ulurus welcomed some guests from another group along with a new student with whom to share the fire. This led to a fun filled day of getting to know each other, playing games, and sharing experiences across from a roaring campfire to warm ourselves as well as our food. Our backcountry expeditions at outBACK can come with some unexpected surprises that test our agility and adaptability. A prime example was awaking ready to hike until we found out that we would not be able to due to the 5 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Instead, the Ulurus decided to take almost the entire day in personal time doing everything they could think of including busting coals, working on therapy assignments, carving spoons, and writing letters. It was an incredibly productive day ending in joyous conversation and banter with a gathering that helped teach the importance of perspective and asking for help.
As guides, we witnessed the students within the Ulurus work diligently on their therapeutic assignments and crafting. They basked in the midday winter sun underneath Indian Peak. As the night drew closer and the shadows of the juniper trees grew, Ulurus one by one realized the importance of fire. Fire helps in creating a communal space in the field, provides warmth during colder seasons, and it sustains us. Group members created a nest out of bark and worked together to create fire that would provide a wealth of benefits; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. After eating around the fire, the group gave feedback to each other about the week. Gatherings around the fire usually only last around an hour, but this specific one went on for over three hours. The group members took the necessary time to be honest, vulnerable, compassionate and direct with one another regarding the group dynamic earlier in the week. Through this process, the Ulurus reconnected on a foundation of trust around the fire. Something that they realized they were missing and yearned for more. Much like fire, we often take for granted the very things that deserve our gratitude. After midnight, the group left the fire but kept the lessons they learned about each other. Out in the west desert of Utah, the Ulurus were able to embody a level of grace and understanding for one another and for themselves. This was a great night in the Uluruluverse and one that should be remembered.
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Goannas: As the snow melted from the Goanna’s site so did their hearts. The Goannas shared goodbyes with senior members of the group which opened