Goannas: The Goannas had a week full of developing their culture of communication and taking accountability for their actions. The Goannas completed two days of hiking during the expedition portion of the week, which led to them developing a strong group dynamic. As they pulled into their last site, the group was able to spot a snake traveling through which prompted great discussions that brought the Goannas closer together. These discussions centered around common fears, how we are not alone in what we may fear, as well as what we can do to support ourselves and each other in the process of moving through such fears. A new member was welcomed into the Goannas with open arms. This member was extremely helpful in solidifying their unity. The group looks forward to continuing their hikes during expeditions as well as navigating challenges that will help them grow.
Brumbies: The Brumbies and Pindaris split within the middle of the week so this gave the Brumbies a chance to restart their culture as the Brumbies again. As with many transitions, the group members struggled with missing their friends from the Pindari group yet were also excited with the opportunity to solidify their group culture as the Brumbies. Each student was honored with a token this week for the unique and special traits they brought to the group. These tokens included strong cord, solid ground, maker, truth speaker, and openness. One staff member was honored with the vital fire token for the energy and support he brought to the group this week and another staff member was honored by the students with his trail name Benevolent Moonlight. Students did amazing hiking during their expedition this week, including peaking a massive hill and gazing at the star-filled skies before making their way to their therapy site.
Cassowaries: Cassowaries were faced with some challenges this week and the group met them with compassion and teamwork. The members, on multiple occasions, used their skills from anatomy of peace to practice truly seeing their peers and others as people and individuals who are on their personal journeys in giving rise to their most authentic selves. And how in that process, as humans, we may not always get it right yet with compassion and teamwork, we can continue moving forward. They played ukulele together and sang songs throughout our time together this week. We had a night hike where they encouraged each other to keep going and practiced self-care when times were challenging. They had an awesome fourth of July where they ate hot dogs and chips and all hung out and shared stories from previous years. We honored one student with a trail name, Peaceful Embers and we honored both staff and students with token ceremonies; Wild Lightning received a maker token.
Lorikeets:The Lorikeets had a rewarding week full of growth, connection, and overcoming challenges. The group began the week with a five-mile hike that included students singing songs, telling stories, and looking at the stars. The Lorikeets also had an intentional day where a student was welcomed into the group with a Lorikeet ceremony and the students enjoyed a spa day with foot soaks and DIY face masks. The group hiked to their last site of the week, and did an excellent job motivating one another and hiking hard to finish the hike in record time. On the fourth of July, the Lorikeets enjoyed watermelon, hot dogs, chips, and played water games before watching the sunset and holding a gathering about memory and perspective. Finally, the group honored a Lorikeet with her trail name – Resilient Willow – and honored three group members with tokens. On the last day, the group took a sunset hike through Death Canyon, played games, and held a gathering debriefing the week. Overall, the Lorikeets grew, laughed, and celebrated together this week, ending it stronger and more connected than they started.
Ulurus: The Ulurus had a challenging week as group members worked to acclimate to desert living. We were able to welcome a new member into the group culture. During this week, the Ulurus focused on having great energy and good respect for one another. Our gatherings this week lifted up the importance of gratitude and conflict resolution. These two concepts allow us to live in a both/and world; one in which we are able to acknowledge that through times of conflict, we are able to grow and evolve and that we can give thanks to the process. This is why the Goannas spent time discussing the most effective ways to move through conflict as a community and the best ways to communicate and deliver feedback to one another. We were able to hike under the star-filled sky during our expedition and ended up hiking one less day to be still and celebrate the fourth of July. It was a glorious day full of excitement and familiar foods from home such as hot dogs, watermelon, and chips. Our holiday was also accompanied by beautiful rain and thunderstorms. One of the Ulurus described the rain and thunderstorms to be “beautifully chaotic”. We were able to honor some of the Ulurus with the Brightness and Solid Ground tokens. These honorings meant a great deal to the individuals who received them and to the group overall.
Pindaris: The Pindaris began their week with their fellow Brumbies. Goodbyes were said as the group split midweek. The following days were filled with skills, culture building, and therapy assignments. The Pindaris were joined by a student mentor who was previously in the program. The student-mentor shared his life story and assisted in motivating the students to work as a group. The group is working on becoming self-sufficient and adhering to the four pillars of the Pindari–BRAH: Brotherhood, Respect, Acceptance, and Honesty. Mornings started off with guided meditations led by students and three of the students received their trail names this week. In any spare moment, the group listened to the Giver, read aloud by a staff member.
Highlights: Peak week started off with a silent ride through the desert where students reflected on their time at outBACK and their own journey on foot through the same desert. Once camp was set up and dinner was finished, students were able to share their reflections with the group. The next morning the group set off to southern Utah to the high reaches of Cedar Canyon. Students then completed a group challenge to help each other traverse across a slackline with the eventual goal to be able to make it across on their own. The following day students tested their nerve on the rock wall where they first learned the mechanics of belaying a climbing partner. Climbing to a height of approximately 60 feet, students were tested physically and mentally as they reached the top and tagged the anchor. The students were also led on a hike through Ashdown gorge. They were able to follow the river through the gorge to an arch that hung high on the canyon walls. Finally, the band was taken deep into the tabernacle lava tubes where they held a final gathering in the pitch black. Students then made their way back to the groups to bring the lessons of peak to their fellow outBACK comrades.