Wilderness Weekly 3.18.22

Photo Credit: Pindari


The Goannas had a week of growth and laughter as new group members settled in and became more comfortable. More senior group members are starting to step up to the plate and lead this newer Goanna group into an environment where they can start performing at the next level. With a focus on emotional safety, two newer members opened up and led gatherings about their trials at home, which the group asked questions about and gave insight to. On Thursday, group members went on a side quest and harvested some willow, which group members were stoked to build new pack frames from. On Friday the group had an intense six mile hike and everyone had moments where they struggled and questioned the group’s ability to get to our destination. When we arrived at camp however, everyone pulled together and even though it was after dark, we were able to set up camp in record time and everyone went to bed smiling and happy.

On Sunday, we day hiked to the top of a hill and played a game of dogs (a hacky sack game) that is one of Goannas favorite pastimes. We had time for skills and four group members completed new packs! We made it to therapy sight and everyone was tired but happy to be there. Two new members busted their very first coal and several other group members are working on harvesting and completing their busting sets. The Goannas are beginning to become more self sufficient and after their phases of storming and norming they are ready to start performing!


The Pindari had a week of growth as they took on challenging conversations that needed to happen within the group. As they held intentional spaces for those conversations, the Pindari became more of a brotherhood. They are strong hikers as they hiked a total of 6 miles this week. 

When the group wasn’t hiking, they were eager to work on hard skills. Some of these skills looked like making moccasins, building their backpacks, making hacky sacks, working hard on their busting set and working towards getting a coal and blowing it into flames, making keeper pouches for family members, and creating unique spoons. Two of the students were planning and getting prepared for their upcoming parent visits, which they are really looking forward to.

As the week went on, the group was surprised with 4 visitors on Saturday night. These visitors were trainees interviewing with OTE. The students had the opportunity to teach these 4 trainees how to bust. When the Pindari had down time, they enjoyed getting competitive and playing a game called dogs. This week was filled with ups and downs and lots of growing moments. 

The group held a gathering on their past, present, and future visions for themselves. This led to a great discussion about one another’s growth areas and goals, and how they can support one another to achieve what they want for their future. This gathering also highlighted the growth that one student has made, shown by him stepping into the emotional leader position within the group. Overall the Pindari had a productive week together out in the Utah desert. As always, nature was appreciated, safe spaces were upheld, and growth was abundant.


The Uluru had an EPIC week full of skills time, hiking, personal growth, therapeutic progress, and friendship. Early on in the week, two of the Uluru members had the opportunity to reunite with their parents during their parent visits. It was an absolute privilege to witness each member’s radiant faces when they returned to camp as they recounted their experiences with their parents. Midway through, the Uluru were privileged to welcome a brand new member into the group. It was a privilege to witness the more senior members facilitate a safe and welcoming community.

As the week continued, the Uluru displayed resilience, leadership, and camaraderie as they crushed each of their hike days. While the hikes certainly were challenging, the Uluru were consistently able to rally together and support each other through the various challenges that are inherent in a desert environment. On Thursday, the Uluru had a leisurely day hike. At the end of the hike Majestic Sunrise was honored with the Openness token. On Friday, the Uluru crushed their first pack hike of the week, and after the hike the group displayed initiative and tenderness by taking the opportunity to give a newer staff member her trail name of Shining Wildflower.

Saturday, the Uluru continued to find success hiking as they supported one another through the difficult terrain. Sunday was a very special treat for the Uluru as they chose to take on a Ghost Challenge for the day. A ghost challenge involves staff taking a step back from the group and allowing the students to run the schedule, chart the hike, and delegate camp tasks. The group absolutely crushed the Ghost Challenge and were able to successfully run the day without staff assistance. Towards the end of the week Playful Polaris honored a fellow group member with their trail name Illuminating Sapphire. Overall, the week was full of compassion, resilience, therapeutic growth, and empathy. The Uluru rallied together and continued to develop rapport and establish a solid community. 


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