The Goannas began their week in the wonderful Oasis site; the halfway point between the Kegs and the Simpsons. The group was more than ecstatic about the sandy terrain. So much so that the students bonded while digging a 7-foot hole! The week was nothing but eventful as we trekked to Death Canyon. The group took a day hike through the beautiful and luscious canyon. We stumbled upon willow and harvested some to design pack frames. The week ended in joyous moments of love.
This week the Cassowaries and the Lorikeet groups combined into a newly formed Cassowary group. Prior to the merge, the Cassowaries had an exciting week filled with laughter and fun. They had a really strong week of hiking with great sunsets over the Simpson Mountain Range. The Former Lorikeet group enjoyed the first half of the week by having ample time to work on all their different skills, including their possibility bags and making bull roarers. We said our goodbyes to two awesome members of the group, Wild Lighting and Vivacious Neptune. The students who were in the Keets and Cassowaries met at a new site and merged into one unified Cassowary group. We held a merge ceremony which solidified their unity. We spent the next few days playing games and sitting around and laughing. This unified group of Cassowaries absolutely know how to have fun and it’s been awesome to see all the different personalities come together and mesh so well. We enjoyed a day hike together before continuing on with our expedition portion of our week. We did some cross-country up a big hill and everyone was pushing each other and it was really inspiring to see. This amazing new blend of students, who now make up the Cassowaries, are hilarious, hardworking, and supportive. The group held a trail name ceremony for a staff member, now known as Rogue Nebula.
The Brumbies had a fun and challenging week, full of growth, resilience, and camaraderie. On one of our expedition days, the group enjoyed a long break where they harvested willow, read books, and played games. After successfully completing our hike, the group worked together to bust a coal and make fire and enjoyed our meal together around the stoves. The group had the chance to welcome a new member into the group and some of the Brumbies spent time this week working together to build backpacks. The group participated in a gathering about culture; agreeing on respect, effort, and empathy as the new core goals of the group. During the final hike on our final day of expedition this week, the group came together and supported each other physically and emotionally to complete the hike and set up camp. The Brumbies honored one member with his trail name, Resilient Manta Ray, and another member with a token, Brightness. Overall, the group grew and changed together this week, pushing each other to achieve their physical, mental, and emotional goals.
The Ulurus had a week full of excitement and exploration! We stayed an extra night at one of our sites in order to progress further on first camp assignments and to get to know our new member better. The previous students welcomed their new peer with open arms and created a safe space for them to process their emotions. We took the time to honor a senior student with a goodbye ceremony before they departed on the next steps on their journey. We then moved to begin our expedition to peak black crook mountain where students worked together to support and encourage one another to accomplish great feats of challenge. Students enjoyed some of the most spectacular views of the field while progressing further and further up the mountain. Although the group did not complete the entire hike, many students claimed it was their favorite experience of their journey at outBACK so far. At the end of the week we honored several students with tokens of brightness, strong cord, peace walker, and solid ground. Three students were also honored with trail names including, tranquil panda, understanding flying squirrel, and knowledgeable nebula.
The beginning of Peak started with a challenge, foreshadowing the challenges yet to come. A silent, reflective and meditative activity marked the first challenge for the students as we made our way through the desert to get to our destination for the night. The Peak Crew had the chance to write out 10 of their favorite songs for a playlist that was created for them. Lots of laughter ensued as the students began to get to know one other a little more through music and conversations as we arrived into Cedar Canyon. We set up home base that night and in the morning we headed out to begin our rock climb progression. Rock climbing presented a challenge to the students, introducing things like fear, anxiety, and trust. The students were given a crash course, led by the senior guides, on climbing safety and technique. Although the students understood that the guides would be with them as a second level of safety and backup, a rush of anxiety swept through as the students realized that they would be belaying one another. As they acknowledged, processed, and moved through these emotions, the students were able to tackle the rock walls and conquer the first day of rock climbing.
Our originally planned 5 mile hike turned into a much longer one that was over 10 miles. A wrong turn to get to the waterfall resulted in hiking well past our destination. Upon learning this news, the students were still motivated to get to the waterfall. They were resilient, fierce, and courageous. Students recognized how there are moments in life were we can make some “wrong turns” and that we may have to back track in order to get back on track! And so the group, with motivation and excitement, persevered and made it to the waterfall! And, we were able to celebrate with their favorite meal of the week, homemade pizza.
During each gathering we had during Peak Week, the students created goals and continued to step up to the challenges with which they were presented. We moved onto our second day of our climbing progression and the students excelled once again! We then made our way to the lava tubes where we held our final gathering. The students expressed their appreciation for one another, what they had enjoyed about one another, as well as the strong and positive traits they witnessed in one another. And so, after a long week of challenges, growing interpersonal connections through challenges and adversity, the students made their way back to their respective groups with more insight into themselves and ready to tackle the rest of their stay here at outBACK.