The Goannas sprinted into this week with spirit and energy. We started the week off with an arrival ceremony with a scenic view of our snow capped mountain ranges. The goannas were stoked to have a new member added to the group, and overcome the obstacles of embracing a new dynamic. They worked through many uphill battles, quite literally, on a wonderful day hike Sunday morning–they were rewarded with a beautiful scenery of Indian Peak and the valley of the desert.
Together, they were able to gather the strength to work out their differences and see the bigger picture of coming together to get chores done after a snowy day in the desert. They handled their struggles in strife, while working together to create a strong foundation of building an emotional safe space for everyone. To commemorate the path that our seniors have journeyed through in the desert, Magnificent Goat, Dauntless Ox, Loving Aurora, and Energetic Beast received a shadow keeper to have their memories set in stone. The week ended with reconciliation and mutual respect in a gathering that helped reset the group.
The Pindari had an unbeatable week filled with hiking, games, primitive skills, and meaningful discussions. We started off the week with a riveting game of Calvinball (baseball with a stick, a hacky sack, and no rules) and a powerful group therapy session about putting our burdens and fears on the table. The group opened up about the things that weigh them down, and found ways to relate and work through those burdens.
After packing up therapy site, we traversed through the desert with four strong days of hiking, conquering over ten miles in total. Through rain, hail, wind, and snow, the Pindari kept their spirits up and banded together to lift each other up. We had the opportunity to see some rare sites, including an old Pony Express Trail station memorial and three authentic Native American ceremony circles.
We ended the week with a ceremony of our own, where the elder of the group honored each member with a special token, and the upcoming leader of the group received his trail name, Genuine Hyena. Three of the evening gatherings were led by different students, where they opened up about the things they are working on and facilitated deep conversations. Everyone was able to open up to the safe space that the group created. The support and comradery were unparalleled. The staff felt it was truly an honor to be able to spend a week with these incredible individuals who are each working so hard to right their wrongs and lay the foundation for a bright future. In the words of our newest student, “The future is hope.”
Despite it all, home is where you make it, or so the saying goes. We pitched the idea that we should move main camp to a dryer location (20ft away) and the Uluru hopped on that idea like a rabbit on a pogo stick! We held a group gathering that night where the Uluru were presented with a safe space to be vulnerable and we took turns sharing what was in our hearts.
As the week went on the Uluru embarked on three pack hikes and one day hike, each being between 1-2 miles in length. The Uluru pressed forward through rain, snow, and the roaring sun, sometimes all in the same day, but to them, they brushed the weather off their shoulders. In the face of changing environments, the Uluru progressed.
When we arrived at our final site of the week, we held several ceremonies where each of the Uluru were honored with tokens and two were even presented with trail names and shadow keepers (journals) to record their remaining time in the ever-changing desert. Cunning Squirrel and Majestic Sunset were honored to receive their trail names and proved over the course of their stay, the power of leading by example.
As another week in the beautiful desert comes to a close the Uluru have shown capability, strength, in self and community, and endurance through the highs and lows of life in the desert. Though their hearts yearn for the lands they come from, they have come to the reality that home is where you make it and that’s surely what they’ve done.