The beginning of the week the Goannas energy and morale were high. The students were anxiously waiting to see their parents to build a deeper understanding between each other. Four students eagerly presented their new skills of busting a coal, sewing moccasins, carving spoons and bull roars, and setting up personal shelters with various knot tying techniques. Parents excitedly reunited and bonded through meal prepping and cooking in the backcountry. Exploring new ways of living simply was a transformative experience for parents witnessing the reality of wilderness living. After parents parted with their kids, the students were left to ponder relationships with parents past and present. Mixed emotions arose from students at different times throughout the week after reconnecting with their parents. During gatherings students reflected on their parent visits and processed their feelings about their families and home life and next steps in their journey. The dynamic of the group shifted in a positive manner with two newer students as the seniors of the group honed in their leadership skills. The logistical leader delegated tasks and kept the group focused on hike days. The emotional leader checked in daily with students and assisted one of the newer goanna by helping him process living in the outdoors and showing him the ropes of the program.
The group branded together and knocked out some serious miles in the field, peaking one of the highest peaks in the field. Reaching the top of Indian peak was a courageous effort as the goannas encouraged each other to stay strong and keep hiking to the top. The 360 view of the field brought excitement as they also found time capsules leaving notes to future humans to discover. To galvanize the peak, the goannas held a ceremony to honor their feat, to honor a member with a trail name landing on Spirited Panther, and to honor a newer goanna with the Openness token. The goannas faced unexpected and challenging weather on their way down from the peak, they bonded together to create a shelter that would keep them warm and safe. After much effort of busting a coal, the group was rewarded with a warm dinner to finish off the night. Even with 15 miles worth of hiking, the goannas worked diligently on therapy assignments during personal time. Curious Squirrel completed Ngarna number one this week. Fun never ceased as the goannas played dogs and 21 questions. All in all, growth came from this physically challenging and playful week.
We started the week with a Welcoming Ceremony for a new Pindari where the group members each introduced themselves. We spent the beginning of the week working on A-frame backpacks, wooden spoons, and leather straps to carry our backpacks. The weather was beautiful to start our hike week! We faced our obstacles as many personalities, backgrounds, and experience levels came together. Throughout the hike week we had the honor of witnessing some of the stronger hikers supporting and encouraging those who were struggling. One student even assisted in carrying another’s pack to help them reach the next site. He expressed immense empathy learned with this experience. We passed by a beautiful meadow of flowers during our first hike and couldn’t help but return for an afternoon meditation. We ended our hike days with games of glove tag and staff reading a book aloud to the group.
Towards the end of the hiking week, the Pindaris had a fun afternoon of Capture the Flag. It was a very intense match that lasted multiple hours! We had many new staff visit us and enjoyed the company and jokes that came with the new energy. Two of our more senior students led a beautiful Gathering on “Stirring the Pot”. The next day, the Pindaris took off on the hike of their lives. We did some cross country hiking, but with the help of teamwork and ERV, we were able to safely reach our site to camp. Everyone came together in the evening, to get camp set up, and ensure we were working collectively as a team. The next morning, the Pindaris set out to climb to the top of Indian Mountain, but due to weather, we had to rush back to main to prepare for an incoming storm! That night was a challenge that we all overcame together. The next day we celebrated a Pindari’s birthday, and the therapist brought donuts to share. Afterward, they participated in a mindfulness exercise where they took their time examining their thoughts and feelings. That evening the group witnessed a beautiful sunset together and felt gratitude for the calm weather.
We started off the week with a staff-led morning meditation where we practiced yoga in a peaceful field with a view of the surrounding mountains. Students participated in the art of elephant impressions in a silly game of “who’s the biggest elephant.” Spirits were high and the weather was beautiful and warm for the first half of the week. Thursday, we hiked to a new site and students worked as a team to set up the new campsite and stay motivated hiking. A student needed space from the group, but soon decided they wanted to meet up and was fully engaged as a team player when they re-joined. Loving Owl led an insightful gathering where we discussed ultimatums and life decisions, where all students were vulnerable and open. On Friday, students were productive at the campsite: we played a hacky sack game, made dream catchers, and worked on various skills such as wood carving, sewing crafts, and a tiny spoon made by Luminescent Sapphire. The same student led a trail naming ceremony for a staff member, Groovy Nebula, which was very special and sacred. Majestic Sunrise was extremely productive on their Ngarna Wuka lessons, finishing #1-4 this week on both sit and hike days. Another student finished Anatomy of Peace and the 6th Harry Potter book, while a third finished Touching Spirit Bear. Both were extremely motivated to read at any moment!
Saturday the Uluru hiked and as we approached the new site we witnessed the majesty of a black stallion. While we watched it prance through the field, we imagined an exhilarating ride on the wild horses of the desert. Students wrote their own “outBACK lat rap,” a silly and groovy rap that they performed for students and staff. On the last two days of the week, we got hit with a snow storm. Students worked as a team to prepare shelter so we stayed dry and warm. One student was especially willing to help once the snowstorm hit, taking one for the team by working out in the cold. This week was fun and productive, with a healthy balance of games and work, each student contributing in their own ways.