Wilderness Weekly 3.25.22

Photo Credit: Heather Robinson

Goannas:

This week the Goannas started with a strong community gathering around a student’s placement letter. The students were adamant about trying to hold space and respect one another’s opinions and views. They were also really good about supporting each other in times of need. Many games of DOGS were played and laughs were exchanged. As the week went on, a recurring theme was individual reflection. Each student spent a good amount of time time processing emotions with staff and with themselves on personal time. Halfway through the week, Enlightened Nomad received his trail name.

Busting was a huge focus for the group this week with several of the students successfully busting their first coals ever! The student’s therapist, Trevor, challenged them to complete a busting set and blow into flames–together the group managed to succeed! The reward for their hard work and determined approach was cooking up some french fries as a group with Trevor at their therapy site.

On Saturday, students were treated with a marvelous day hike where they harvested willow for pack frames and individual skills. Students bonded together as they walked along a beautiful, clear, mountain stream. When Monday came around, the group hiked up a rock covered hilltop and played another game of DOGS. A ceremony circle was created and four Goannas were honored with tokens including Peace Walker, Making Amends, Giver, and Open Heart. As the week came to an end, another trail name ceremony was facilitated and Sincere Soul received his trail name.

All in all the group had a shift full of growth and intention, and the Goannas are becoming closer as as the weeks pass in the Utah desert.

Pindaris:

This week in the Pindari was one of acceptance, overcoming struggles, laughter, and community. The senior students carried the responsibility of mentoring and welcoming newer folks into the group. For those who have been here a while, the themes of the week were focused around vulnerability and embracing the new roles of leadership. For the newcomers, the themes revolved around acceptance and adapting to the rigorous environment of the wilderness. Throughout the week, the group showed strength through emotional vulnerability and support for each other. Two students opened their hearts to the group by sharing their life stories and were met with curiosity and care. This vulnerability was built upon outside of gatherings, as students were honest and open about their emotional struggles, with the others showing up for them and creating a safer space for tenderness amid challenging emotions.

The group persevered through hikes with positive attitudes despite the trials of pack malfunctions, adapting to strenuous activity, and even a surprise snowstorm. The accomplishments of the week included several students achieving their first coals and fire, significant progress on First Camp assignments (including two students completing them altogether), some creative crafts, and completion of therapy assignments. Gatherings this week were intentional and thoughtful, as we discussed acceptance, leadership, and the richness of life. Outside of our working hours, the group enjoyed their time together by playing numerous games of hacky-sack, sharing laughs around record breaking fire pits, and taking time to appreciate the beauty of the desert sky at night. Through the ups and downs of the week, the group certainly had ample time to work on hard and soft skills, and ultimately, pondering the values of life. 

Ulurus:

The Ulurus conquered new mountains and soared to new heights this week as Luminescent Sapphire led a gathering and another student led a morning meditation. Each morning began with various types of meditation including stretching, mindful thinking and breathing. A couple of students put leather on packs and finished their A frames, while another crafted a drum and drum sticks. Luminescent Sapphire sewed a quiver and finished Nagarna 3, while another completed testing throughout the week. A new student had difficulty adjusting to his new environment and participating in the group , especially during gratefuls, but is beginning to learn cooking skills and branch out into trying new things.

The Uluru brushed up on LNT skills with a hike back to a previous site location to take responsibility and clean up old messes. The location we hiked back to was a beautiful field where Unstoppable Mountain seized the opportunity to hold a gathering. 

The next few days were filled with a few hikes, one shorter pack hike, followed by a longer  hike from Indian peak to the Davis mountains. The students gathered together and pushed one another to succeed, despite the challenge of the longer hike. The group also enjoyed the change to warmer weather for this hike, and “mooooo’ed” as they passed cows grazing the fields.  On the fourth day of hiking the Uluru peaked one of the Davis mountains. The students experienced a grand and breathtaking view on a calm Sunday. To top off this majestic week Persistent Brachiosaurus received his trail name! The group played Zoogle, Cowboy and Aztec numbers. All together the group had a restful and intentional shift where they came together as a group, challenged one another, and facilitated many intentional gatherings.

Peak:

On this episode of Peak week we had the pleasure of having 5 students from both the Goannas and the Uluru. All students bonded very quickly and were able to overcome preconceived notions about each other. Next, we made the long voyage down to St. George. On our way down we reintroduced the students to music and talked about music as a negative and positive coping skill. Our first real day in St.George we went to Black Rocks and climbed lava rocks. Every student was impressive and made it to the top of at least one climb and pushed themselves on the climbs they weren’t able to finish. Students had to trust in each other while belaying and simultaneously trust other factors out of their control such as the rope. This theme of trust carried over to Friday at Pioneer Park where we had to put trust in ourselves while rappelling off a 60 ft cliff. All students completed all the rappels despite some shaking legs. Some students’ confidence and others’ perseverance conquered over fear/self doubt. We finished off the rope portion of our week climbing at Prophecy Wall with some more difficult climbs and focused on facing difficult situations and how to rebound from failure. After each activity we debriefed how each challenge may have been difficult and how it relates to other areas of our lives. 

The next section of peak includes lots of day hikes and personal time for reflection. This included a solo hike in Snow Canyon and exploring Red Cliffs National Conservation area finding cool spots for students to enjoy solo time amongst the beautiful red sandstone rocks of Southern Utah. On our way back to the field we stopped at some Lava tubes and went caving in the inviting darkness. 

We finished our journey back in the field discussing how we can contribute to our group as a leader and presented the peak patch to each student and one staff member. Students did a great job of reflecting on their weeks and addressing the difficulties that returning to society presents.  

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