Wilderness Weekly 6.10.22

Photo Credit: Rosalie DiRado


The Goannas ended last week and started this week strong, showing up for each other as a group, encouraging participation and therapeutic conversation, and being the silly guys they are. The students led staff back to a ravine they’d explored last week where we crawled on rocks, threw boulders off a ridge to see how sandstone breaks, and had a peaceful gathering in a huge rock cove. We had some newer students bust their first coals this week (one student got it his first try!) and the group as a whole was committed to getting skills done, especially those progressing out of First Camp.

Other highlights include a mega game of capture the flag, touch football with a sweet potato, and a yoga session that ended in a light drizzle and a huge rainbow overhead. Two newer students led gatherings this week on themes of meditation/self-awareness and self-justifying thought cycles. We ended the week in a beautiful ceremony circle in which the students surprised a staff member with a wooden ring. The students really bonded with this staff member and saw him as a big brother/uncle figure they could share and be vulnerable with, and expressed that they felt truly understood by him. The intentionality, sense of brotherhood, and emotion in this moment was powerful and moving. Ending the week on this note really sums up the spirit of the Goannas and how our week went— they care for each other deeply, fiercely even, and this passion fuels their endeavors on their journey here at outBACK. 

Ceremony circles this week to honor students: Two trail names were determined, Adventurous Tree and Courageous Lion. The group had a bunch of other ideas for names, praising these students for their growth and spirit–for example Adventurous Tree could have been an adventurous golden retriever and Courageous Lion could have been courageous steed.

The two students who returned from Peak were honored with custom tokens from staff: The 4 Life token represents that his time in the Goannas will always be with him as he navigates the cycles of life. The other token, Eye See W’s represents that this student has experienced many losses (L’s) but continues to see the positives and push on (Wins=W’s in case you didn’t know). Adventurous Tree was given the Vital Fire token, representing his spirit, joy, and determination both for himself on his path and his consistency of spirit in the group. Three newer members received tokens: the Openness token (for a student who has been quick to make friends and connect to others, share his story, and continues to grow in his reception to feedback and understanding of himself), Solid Ground (for a student who struggled significantly his first week and now acts as an advocate of fairness and Justice for others, staying true to his values while becoming more aware of his body & reactions), and Peacewalker token (for a student who has been here just 2 weeks and always goes out of his way to help others and do tasks others don’t want to, without complaint or expecting praise). All in all, despite the struggles and success the Goannas rallied together to promote resilience and camaraderie as they navigate life at outBACK. 


The Pindari had a fun and productive week full of ceremonies, games, and skills. We started off with a token ceremony to honor students’ achievements and recognize their positive impact on the group. This attitude carried through the week as more students were inspired to honor each other with additional tokens such as the True Speaker, Vital Fire, and Letting go. One student in particular was given their trail name, the royal and powerful Rising King

We spent sunny afternoons laughing and writing music together on the guitar while working on skills: some students finished their packs and carved beautiful spoons, while others worked on their Ngarnas. We also got creative with games like Dungeons and Dragons, Mafia, hacky sack, and tag. Two new intakes this week acclimated quickly and jumped right into fire skills — one student got close to busting a coal on their first try! 

While the week had its share success and struggle, the Pindari are learning to support and challenge each other in the desert. The group is excited to gain more autonomy and the leaders are working with them to teach them the ways to succeed at outBACK.


The Uluru had an incredible week of student growth and team building. The group started the week working on primitive skills and busting coals. Joyous Monkey was rewarded with his first coal and led the group busting effort. As the week progressed the group seemed to grow together in unity and the team spirit of Uluru was realized.

Tuesday’s group therapy focussed on paradoxes and how we can live within them. This seemed to restart the engines of the group and ignite some energy, excitement, and interest. On Wednesday, The Uluru said farewell to Radiant Chipmunk with a wonderful ceremony of stories, memories, and funny quotes. The departure of Radiant Chipmunk left a leadership role to be filled in the group. Several members were eager to take up the role and lead the Uluru for weeks to come. Thursday we packed up to hike for the majority of the day, but right before we were about to leave, the Uluru welcomed a new student to the group. The students had a challenging night hike on Friday but got to enjoy the beauty of the desert night as the hike progressed. Everyone was exhausted but rewarded with some well deserved rest before the next evening hike. At the group’s final site student’s took the time to relax and reflect. This week presented some challenges between the students but offered an opportunity to look inward and invite positive change in everyone.

The staff and students honored Joyous Monkey with a massive 3 tokens on Sunday. He received the Brightness, Vital Fire, and Strong Cord tokens for demonstrating incredible leadership in the group this week and leading the group to success every day. Spirited Obsidian received the Journey Keeper token for their hopes for the future and forward thinking attitude. A student received the brightness token for his positive attitude all week and for constantly bringing the group to  thunderous laughter. Another student received the True Speaker token for speaking his mind to the group and keeping everyone together even during some challenging moments. The week was capped off with fun games like “Steal the Bacon” and “Werewolf”. Overall, the week had its challenges but it was a rewarding week for the group as a whole. 


The Brumbies had a week full of sun and shade. We started off the week strong with a trail naming ceremony for our very own Chaotic Orca and we said goodbye to Mindful Raven mid-week. Energy was high as our Brumbies created their own fun in the desert by making mini spoons, a pos or two, and some new friends. A few life stories were shared and vulnerability was in abundance around the crackling fire at main camp. Sweet and savory treats like cinnamon rolls and dumplings were also in attendance.

We were also honored to receive front row seats to the first annual outBACK Met Gala Runway Show and watch as our students put their own spin on the theme “Wilderness Chic”. We got to tap into our inner Steve Irwins as we observed the wildlife around us come out of hiding and we shared many belly laughs, especially during our huddle under main shelter during a very short rain storm – it was just the sprinkle we needed to cool off. To finish off our week, two of our Brumbies, Dapper Moose and (Mir), left us to go on their peak adventure and we wish them fun and lots of sunshine. Without a doubt our students were as vibrant as their rain pants this week!


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