The Goannas had an awesome week in the west desert this week. The expedition portion of our week brought us multiple hikes with the handcart that fostered lots of opportunities to work together and ensuring that each member did their part for the community. When arriving at a new site, they worked together to make sure all the vital chores got done and they did so in a timely manner. The Goannas stepped up and worked hard on their busting sets and spent a great amount of time practicing and honing in on their busting skills. There were multiple ceremonies where trail names were presented and various tokens to honor and acknowledge the greatness within our students as they move through their journey at outBACK. A new member joined our group this week. With him, he brought new and interesting perspectives to the group and was diligent in his learning of desert living and understanding the art of being a “maker” through woodworking and fire making. We ended this week with a lot of good reflective discussions and identifying what the Goannas hoped to focus on next week; both as an individual and as a collective.
The Lorikeets started out strong and continued to stay strong throughout the week. Wednesday the Keets had a goodbye gathering for one of their fellow Keets, and lifelong friend, as they moved on to their next destination after outBACK. Throughout the week the Lorikeets had strong hikes, worked on different skills including possibilities bags, necklaces and bracelets, and one student made a makeup bag. Although the group faced some challenging moments this week, the group never waivered and they banned together to work through it. The group held multiple ceremonies for one another as well as presenting guides with their trail names (Vibrant Mermaid and Shattered Amethyst). One student received the true speaker token and Peaceful Ember received the openness token. The group even had the chance to participate in taking a personality quiz to better understand who they were on a deeper level.
The Brumbies had a beautiful week full of creativity, adventure, and productivity. Each day began with a morning meditation which set the day up for achieving personal growth. The group held each other accountable for finishing therapy assignments by holding Ngarna parties. Students busted with integrity and worked together to teach newer members to blow into flames. The Brumbies participated in gatherings that covered topics on perspective and resilience. A beloved member of the group parted ways halfway through the week. Two members received their trail names, Inquisitive White Panda and Persevering Black Panther. Two members were honored with tokens; letting go and journey keeper. The group also honored their primary therapist with the truth speaker token. The Brumbies are on the road to becoming self-sufficient as a group. The students were motivated to work on hard skills and fostering safe spaces in which group members can be vulnerable.
This week the Cassowaries said farewell to those transitioning from their time at outBACK and onto their next chapter of their journey. As with any change and shift, group dynamics inevitably change and shift with each addition and departure. Because of this, the Cassowaries were intentional about spending time being vulnerable with one another. They actively listened to each other’s life stories, providing encouraging feedback and group mentorship. They also described in lavish detail, both orally and visually, their past identities and those they are working towards. Equally, they focused on inward versus external validation– accepting themselves for who they are, chasing their passions and joys with their whole being, and understanding that they are their biggest advocate for their needs.
The Cassowaries continued the week with the theme of exhibiting intentional actions. A hearty discussion about Covid-19, and the symptoms that can come with the virus, fostered discussions amongst the Cassowaries that led to actions around what it means to be very aware of their surroundings, intentional with their actions and with the placement of themselves, and individual and group hygiene.
The Cassowaries had the opportunity to partake in several challenging yet rewarding hikes this week during the expedition portion of our week. The challenges of our expedition came in the form of missed turns along the trail as well as being on unintended trails. The group back tracked to a previous camp site to make another attempt to get on their intended trail only to be met with a similar outcome of the previous day. Against the challenges of the previous days of hikes, the Cassowaries found their inner strength and pushed through each hike with a positive and uplifting attitude. The sheer joy that was expressed when the Cassowaries arrived at their intended site was amazing to witness! Throughout the expedition phase of the week and even as we landed at our layover site for therapy days, they discussed how even meticulous planning with the best of intentions can have hiccups and how one responds to those hiccups will dictate whether their heart is at peace or at war. Additionally, they reflected on how life is an adventure and if they choose to be truly at peace with themselves, they must chase joy and live in the moment.
While the Cassowaries had many moments of personal and group growth this past week, they also had a lot of fun, laughter, and love. Ophie, this week’s therapy dog, brought them all together as they played catch, received morning, midday, and evening cuddles, and was reminded of what true unconditional love looks like. Equally, we were reminded of what was occurring within the forests of California as the winds brought in some smog, dawning a rich blood-orange sun that sparked a pool of creativity within the Cassowaries. From transforming a night shelter into a mega main, to new recipes, to desert spa day, to new trail names, to developing a new game using nature’s resources – creativity in the Cassowaries this week was endless.
As their days came to an end each day and before they laid down to sleep, they reflected upon the hard work, accomplishments, and joys of the day. Finishing out the week, the Cassowaries brought awe and wonder to one another as they laid out beneath the stars and shared their tales of the constellations.
The Ulurus started out this week by welcoming a new member, sending some elder members off on their PEAK week adventure, and holding a goodbye ceremony for others. Throughout the week, the Ulurus worked hard at bow drilling, aiming to perfect their sets and technique. From telling jokes to having conversations identifying boundaries, the group developed a deeper understanding of their peers and the trajectory of their group culture. Several hikes were completed during expedition, and the week was capped off by an exploratory evening hike at the Oasis site in search for top rocks and incredible sunset views. We look forward to welcoming new members this upcoming week and showing them the way of the Ulurus.
We began Peak Week, as we often do, by focusing our mind on setting intentions. The Peak Week crew gathered around and spent time identifying personal goals they hoped to accomplish for the week. The group made their way to Duck Creek Campground in Cedar Canyon, where they hiked and held a gathering centered around what it means to be focused on a goal and how we can keep our goals in mind. The students struggled with staying present, and staff supported the crew as they worked to identify when they strayed to fixating on their past or worrying about their future rather than remaining in the present. The group took on the challenge of catching themselves when these conversations came up, acknowledging how/why it occurred, and then redirecting themselves to the present. The following morning the group hiked to a secluded section of the Ashdown Gorge Canyon where they spent time sitting in silent meditation followed by throwing rocks into quicksand. All of these experiences afforded us a chance to discuss our processes of staying present and being aware of our senses and set us up for the upcoming rock climbing progression ahead.
As we began our days of climbing, each student climbed higher than they expected they could, and the group spent the evening discussing how facing challenges at the crag could help them with the challenges they face in their everyday lives. One student shared a personal revelation that was realized through climbing. They noted their tendency to think in absolutes and how the negative self-talk of not being “good enough” would be on repeat when faced with taking on certain challenges in life. The next two days consisted of more climbing and hiking and students challenged themselves to step away from “black and white” ways of thinking as it pertained to their capacities and capabilities. The group concluded their week by exploring lava tubes and taking part in a ceremony where they were honored for the progress they have made so far and discussed what they want their relationships to look like once they leave outBACK.