Cassowaries: The Cassowaries went through winds of change this week as the group was made into two. The group spent time developing new group cultures and traditions, involving lots of howling at the moon. Students, both new and seasoned, participated in a Welcome Ceremony as we honored one anothers’ greatness and laid down a group foundation of boundaries and empathy. Starlight hikes were also a highlight this week, as they were a welcome change to hiking in the afternoon sun. We hiked through the beautiful landscape of our field, and had an opportunity to watch the sun rise over the desert. Methodical Wave was honored with the Solid Ground token, representing her resilience, vision, and steady presence. The students also bonded in the process of fire making, and made great strides in becoming both self-sufficient and learning to rely on one another. The Cassowaries are working well together and excited about this new chapter of life at outBACK.
Lorikeets: The Lorikeets had a week filled with adventure and internal discoveries. Hikes were transitioned from day to evening/night hikes. The students experienced what it was like to hike trails with gorgeous orange sunsets over the mountains, as well as under the bright beautiful stars. The students engaged in new artistic gatherings, using only the nature around them to make beautiful art pieces on the ground. When fellow Keets were feeling down, the other members rallied around them to make sure they felt supported. Because of this, even some of the hardest moments of the week were easily managed with group support and love. Every group member received a token this week (Peace Walker, Letting Go, Brightness, Strong Cord, and True Speaker) and staff members were honored as well. Overall, thanks to the strong supportive nature of all the students, the week turned out to be a great group bonding experience.
Goannas: This week, the Goannas shifted into doing hikes under the stars! All of the students hiked very well and worked together to make the week flow smoothly. They played lots of games, had very impactful gatherings, and the group learned a lot about their individual selves throughout the week. The Goannas held a token ceremony, in which one of the students was given the “Letting Go” token for letting go of some tough things that happened this week, and the students also gave a token to the staff Exploring Moonlight. She received “Making Amends” for her willingness to lovingly move past hardships with others.
Ulurus: The Ulurus said goodbye to some of their long term members who went on the Peak Expedition at the beginning of the week, and welcomed some newcomers. With the approaching summer heat, the Ulurus began to switch from hiking in the day to evening hikes. The group enjoyed the cooler temperatures and the view of the night sky as they hiked. The Ulurus were able to focus on growing their skills and deepening relationships through group games and gatherings. Though they had a couple late nights of hiking, the group was able to support each other and look forward to a good night’s rest.
Brumbies: The Brumbies had an exciting week full of memories. At the beginning of the week, the Brumbies said farewell to some core students and wished them the best on their journeys ahead. They later worked on welcoming new students to the Brumbies, and adjusting to the change in group dynamics that followed. With the change in season and summer heat entering the scene, the Brumbies did an exceptional job adjusting to the new summer schedule. The group spent time throughout each day huddled together in the shade of the juniper trees, sharing laughs, stories, and songs that visibly brought them closer as a group. Desert wildlife caused excitement and pandemonium among the students as they spotted everything from lizards, horses, rabbits, and more! Creativity was a highlight of the week— students carved spoons, created handmade playing cards, held time to create stories together as a group, and even used billie cans as a drum set. The group encouraged each other to persevere and endure through late night hikes full of star filled skies.
Peak Week: Adventure Therapy @outBACK
Peak weekers enjoyed a successful, challenging, and rewarding week! At the beginning of the week, the students were excited to meet members from other groups and form new connections. The students were initially anxious about the unknowns of peak but seemed prepared to face the challenges ahead. On the drive down to St. George, the students created a collaborative playlist over 3 hours long with a huge range of genres – throughout the car ride, everyone sang along to country, rap, and pop music and enjoyed the passing scenery. On the first climbing day, the students were hesitant and also curious about the gear. After a thorough training in belaying and gear, however, the students grew more comfortable and quickly became extremely motivated to climb, each of them pushing themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally, and going up on the wall at least once. That night, the group processed some of the challenges of climbing; trust, control, and anxiety being big themes in the conversation. The students were able to support one another in their discussion and share their successes and failures with one another.
On Friday, the group explored the beautiful slot canyons of Southern Utah, hiking through striking rock formations and enjoying personal time in the shade to reflect on their journey at Outback and their experience on peak week. That night the group talked about perception and honesty, sharing their individual experiences with feeling less than others and wanting to be accepted. On the last climbing day, the peakers were extremely excited to have another go – each of them wanting to climb, belay, and support each other on the climbs. Every student was able to make it to the top of the climb they tried, and even attempted an extremely difficult climb at the end of the day. As the group traveled North to the Tabernacle Lava Tubes, the students played games and listened to music in the car, venturing on a beautiful hike with a waterfall in Cedar City on the way.
On the final day, peak students hiked through the lava tubes and marveled at the naturally formed caves and volcanic rock – participating in a powerful final gathering about searching for self and appreciating their abilities. Overall, the group grew emotionally, physically and mentally together, and learned how to effectively and genuinely support one another through the challenges of the week, each of them returning to their groups with a sense of accomplishment and newfound appreciation for their abilities.