Wilderness Weekly 7.21.22

Photo Credit: outBACK Staff


The Goannas started the week with a farewell to a deeply loved peer. They each shared memories and wishes for Adventurous Tree during the goodbye gathering. Although they were sad to see them go, the group expressed their encouragements during the final goodbyes. With goodbyes, also came hellos. The Goannas welcomed two new peers with excitement. They have been great new additions to the Goanna family. Speaking of family, the group had many conversations this week about the Goanna culture and how they consistently fall back on their six pillars; GRACES: gratitude, respect, accountability, community, empathy, and support.

The week was packed with token and name ceremonies, a chance to honor each other for their strengths. Goofy Goose presented Giga Cuddle Fish with the Winged Heart token to honor his ability to empathize with his peers. Goofy Goose and Solid Rock presented a peer with the Brightness token. Peers shared how this student always brings an abundance of joy and happiness to the group, even through adversity his brightness shines through. Solid Ground is the newest trail name given to one of our fellow Goannas. The group also gave a trail name to one of their favorite field guides. Brotherly Moose was honored to receive such a fitting trail name. Students honored another staff member with the Solid Ground token as well. 

Although the Goannas didn’t hike as much this week as they did the previous week, they sure became masters at a new skill. Multiple wooden juniper rings were crafted. Some are to be gifted to special people at home and others are being sported out in the desert. Many possibility bags were also crafted, as well as new spoons and bullroarers. The Goannas are most definitely makers! 

The students are eagerly taking on a new week with hopes of many night hikes, plenty of desert fun, and many more  memories!


This week the Pindari exemplified resilience and adaptability. We said goodbye to one of our dear members in a beautiful goodbye ceremony, in which they gave out gifts to each Pindari–their creative, goofy spirit lives on in the group.

We hiked to a site which brought up fond/hard memories resulting in the opportunity to recognize their progress. We had another hard day when one of the Pindari switched groups. Every member of the Pindari supported this student by encouraging them to stay focused on their path. After their departure we had multiple vulnerable and open check-ins as a group where the students checked in with eachother. Afterward, the group rallied together to lead a Ghost Hike, when the students were completely in charge of packing up, cleaning camp, managing their time, finding the route and leading the hike. The challenge was an immense success and everyone felt accomplished with their ability to take on and handle responsibility appropriately. We rock hopped along a creek and explored Petroglyphs (rock carvings made by Indigenous People in the area). There, we borrowed an old ceremonial circle, believed to have been made by the indigenous people of the area, to honor a student with their trail name.

Throughout the week we had many competitive games of DOGS, great storytelling before bed about our best birthdays and memories with our siblings, and intentional conversations about how we respond to conflict and discomfort. At the end of the week, the group as a whole received The Wave custom tokens from staff. This symbolized their strength and ability to shift directions in response to hardship, as well as their capacity to be gentle and consistent. The ‘Dari had a great week in the desert!


The Uluru had an eventful week beginning with a fire evacuation Tuesday evening. The thrill of riding in a truck ignited emotion and excitement in their souls. Wednesday was filled with group activities, games, therapy, and setting expectations for the week, including exploring the idea of morning hikes. Early the next morning Uluru set off on the first morning hike. The path was calm and steady on the road, but switched to an adventurous hike when the group had the chance to go cross country. This first day set the pattern for the week of waking up early to hike, followed by camp set up, skills, and fun. Most evenings were spent huddled under the main site tarps cooking food, singing and dancing in the rain. The Uluru were able to take a rest day where they peaked at an intriguing mountain near the site. This was a fun highlight for the students combined with an intentional gathering. The last few days were filled with working hard on personal skills and making awesome stuff out of the willow wood that was found during the week. 


The Brumbies were a force to be reckoned with this week. As temperatures waxed and waned our Brumbies stayed consistent, crushing two hikes and even welcoming a new student from another group. Spunky Monkey said his farewell to the group and passed leadership to the batch of responsible humans. This week saw a lot of teamwork and sweat as students perfected their busting sets and helped each other keep the stoves alive for mealtimes. Two successful night hikes under the stars opened up some quality conversations about their concerns for the future and how to continue making progress as well as incorporating their own passions into their life pursuits.  Some of the students channeled the movie “Holes” as they dug spaces large enough for themselves to stand in and even came across some scrumptious juniper roots we were able to harvest for bottom boards later. We were blessed with many showers of rain throughout the week and squeezed a daily sprint in as we all ran for shelter to wait it out. One student took a stong stance of vulnerability by sharing his placement letter with the group. The Brumbies supported him with questions and were able to offer up some quality feedback, that was accepted with respect from the student. Last but certainly not least, the Brumbies honored a staff member by giving him his trail name: Wicked Mountain Goat. This week we saw a group transformed, ready to take on the deserts of both Utah and life as they blossomed like cactus flowers in the face of adversity. 


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