Wilderness Weekly 5.20.22

A field of wildflowers at Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, a wilderness therapy program for teens


 It was a stellar week for the Goannas. Despite a snowstorm on Wednesday, the weather was amazingly sunny and warm. As a result, the Goannas were able to camp outside underneath the beautiful stars five nights this week. Our hikes were challenging, but there was one that stood out the most because we ended one of our hikes up in Judd Canyon, experiencing one of the most picturesque spots in the field. On Friday, the goannas were stoked to gather by a fresh clear spring, a rather rare moment. They eagerly ran through the stream splashing about and enjoying the cool water. The Goannas welcomed Wise King Krab this week from another group, and he instantly fit in. The Goannas also welcomed a new member with their characteristically open hearts and enthusiasm. Multiple members of the Goannas  shared their life stories this week tapping into their own vulnerability. By sharing life stories students bonded deeper with each other and had more compassion for others. Games dominated the activities of the week, as they played countless of crappy throws, dogs, and mafia. Students took their own initiative to make time for their Ngarna Workbooks, even during hike breaks. Overall, it was a week of sunny days and starry nights, go-go hikes, and lots of fun games. The Goannas have many more weeks like this to look forward to.


This week the Pindari worked as a group to foster a renewed sense of group culture. They encouraged each other to bust coals and take turns on tasks such as digging fire pit and setting up shelter. Leaders in the group encouraged newer and younger students to participate in gatherings, emphasizing that our time around the fire is intentional, even sacred time, during which we are safe to share with and support each other. The group got in an extra big hike this week (9 miles!) since we lost the shelter rope on the way to a new site and had to go back to find it. We discussed the importance of LNT and  natural consequence was a challenge, once we found the rope and could finally head back for a nice hot dinner, there was an undeniable unity and spirit of success in the group. As we ate dinner that night a few of the boys reflected, with surprise, that it was a great day because of the experience.

We had a few notable ceremony circles this week, most of which were initiated by students! Zen Orangutan received the Peacewalker token for his growth in recognizing and acknowledging others’ points of views and seeking resolve in conflicts, as well as advocating for peace in the overall group dynamic. The following tokens were initiated by students, meaning they noticed and discussed a peer’s accomplishments and approached the staff to hold a ceremony circle. One student received the Strong Cord token, for those who invite and encourage others in a positive way and creates a significant effect on the motivation of others. Another received Letting Go, showing continuous improvement in his attitude about his own behaviors and expressing different perspectives than he used to. Another student received the Seeker token, recognizing his commitment to asking questions to discern among choices, to asking and accepting help and others’ points of views, and initiating discussions to understand his role in dynamics. This student also enjoyed using a staff’s Audubon Field Guide to the Desert Southwest book to identify and share names of the nature around us, including Black Tailed Jack Rabbits, Sagebrush Lizards, and Blue Flax.

The Pindari demonstrated deep care and commitment to their brothers this week, encouraging each other, holding each other accountable, and relying on each other to offer guidance and resolve conflict. It was a great week for group rapport 


The Ulurus had an epic week in the desert. The week started off with new students coming to join the group. They integrated into the group well and were beginning to make connections and learn about living in the desert within their first few hours. On Thursday, we had the privilege of joining forces with potential new guides on a day hike where veteran members of the were able to share their extended knowledge of outBACK, and newer students were able to learn alongside the potential new guides.

On Friday, the group washed off the rust of therapy site on their first hike of the week and completed a challenging 2 mile hike in the varied weather of desert Spring. They laughed their way down the road as mother nature tried to intimidate them with her tricky ways. The next day the group recuperated with lots of personal time, check-ins with staff, and a long group game of hacky sack. On Sunday, the group gathered for a trail naming ceremony for a spirited member of the group. Iron Coyote and Majestic Sunrise led the ceremony and named Joyous Monkey into the group. That same day we had a much easier and rewarding hike to therapy site, where we avoided the worst of the storms and were able to stay in the sunshine for most of the day. The newer members of the group are progressing in skill in the art of making efficient packs and have made significant strides on hikes. At therapy site, there was time for lots of skills, including pos bags, spoons, vests, backpacks, and more. Time was also spent playing multiple group games and cooking elaborate meals in addition to personal time and showers.

The week closed with another amazing trail name ceremony lead by Radiant Chipmunk to honor Mindful Sparrow. Overall, it was a fantastic week for the Uluru as they supported each other to overcome any challenge that came their way with laughter and learning. 


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COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.