This week in the Goannas, students started off the week with some exciting news and fun team initiatives focused on communication and group development. The first challenge the Goannas were given was to carve a large spoon as a team. The group took turns working on the spoon, handing it from one person to the next.
The group also saw a new addition to the Goannas! The new student was able to find support in their transition into the program as the group members rallied around him. The students held a gathering on tips and practices on desert life and making the most of his time at outBACK. The group continued to build rapport with each other by working together to triumph over the spider’s web/low-ropes course challenge. The group worked together to get one another through the course by planning and even lifting one another through the small holes in the netting.
Later in the day, the group participated in a group initiative called helium stick, where they had to work together to keep the stick from floating up. The group unfortunately had curveballs all week when it came to following through with our daily plans. However, the group showed resilience by finding different ways to overcome the challenge of the day and even persevering through tough hikes. The group kept high spirits by having great conversations around the fires and even making a makeshift jump rope out of a tarp! The group finished their week by making it to Judd Canyon where the sage bushes are as big as juniper trees. The students set up the best shelter they had all week and created a very spacious common group area. With that we will bid you adieu and look forward to another exciting week in the desert.
Our week in the Kangaroos was spent overcoming challenges, solving problems, and making memories. The theme of the week was resilience, so we learned what resilience looks like in practice through a multitude of team building activities. The students also had the opportunity to hike with an old pioneer handcart that carried all their gear. It required clear communication between the front pushers and the back pushers to make it through the rocky terrain. It required trust for all members of the group to rely on the others to pull their weight and brake when needed. It required humor and optimism to make the most of a long and challenging hike during our backcountry expedition. The spirits were kept high as the group sang and laughed along the trail. By the end of the week, the handcart became a boon instead of an obstacle. Other team building activities included a giant bow drill set challenge, an activity called helium stick, and a group craft of a giant spoon. Two of the newer members of the group are well on their way to finishing their A-frame packs and busting a coal.
The beauty of the desert was breathtaking this week as summer settles into autumn. We had the amazing experience of watching the fiery sunset and the full moonrise simultaneously on either side of the sky. Thousands of black-eyed susans lined both sides of the roads we traversed. We scavenged the land for unique rocks and discovered geodes, fossils, and flint. One student managed to create sparks with flint and is determined to create fire with this method. The views were stunning all week long, especially towards the end of the week when we got some rain and the colors of the desert became vibrant. In the evenings we watched for shooting stars while we held gatherings to discuss resilience, life stories, emotional regulation, and group dynamics. We shared vulnerable thoughts and feelings which increased group unity and emotional safety. The Kangaroos are doing incredible things, and we are extremely proud of them.
This week the Ulurus shifted from their backcountry expedition and headed into their adventure expedition. The group was briefed about their excursion into an unfamiliar environment to experience new high adventure activities together. We began the week with a day dedicated to working on our leatherworking, knot-tying, and carving skills and on the following day, we made our way to Snow Canyon and went on a few hikes; one of which being led by one of the Ulurus. We also held a token ceremony for a guide, Eccentric Toucan, who received the Journey Keeper token in recognition for his goal-oriented nature and a challenge to pursue the skill further.
The group also had a chance to go paddle-boarding and went on a small trail walk through red cliffs surrounded by vegetation and animals unbeknownst to the west desert, such as Mountain Juniper, cottonwood, and marmots. The students got to experience caving in lava tubes in Meadow, Utah, where we explored mountainous lava rocks lightly sprinkled in by the vegetation of the surrounding grasslands. Our stand-up paddle boarding took us across a vast lake called Yuba, and the group also had the chance to go rock climbing. We ventured back near the west desert to climb the desert mountains aptly named Desert Mountain. The Ulurus earmarked on challenging their fears and surpassing new heights, literally and figuratively, each ascending to the top. Our adventure expedition ended with an exploration of some incredibly tall sand dunes in a place ironically named Little Sahara and we welcomed two brand new Ulurus at the closing of our week together. We held a welcoming ceremony, and the group was able to share all for which they were grateful
All-in-All, we had a blast. It was an expedition of the collective where everyone found new aspects of themselves to grow as people and as a group, helping one another work together to peak their mountains both inside and out.
This week on Boom we were very excited to be making anything and everything. One of the students made a drum and this set the precedent for the boom. The primary therapist provided therapeutic assignments that was taken openly. Every morning we worked on mindfulness techniques such as square breathing, being present in the moment, and when distracted, redirecting our focus to our breathing. On the first day of square breathing, we each decided on a number to count to and every day after we went up, challenging ourselves. We filled our days with crafts, one on one check ins, gatherings, and lots and lots of busting. The students created spoons for parents, bracelets for the staff and themselves, a pos, and necklaces.
Aside from crafting, we also had a new student spend some time with us on the Boom. The students were open to connecting and put forth some great work on building relationships while giving space. Our newest student had some initial difficulties acclimating to the “desert life” and achieving some of their goals but strived to push through and got a lot of work for their first camp assignments done. We were able to have a gathering on resilience and how it is applicable in our day to day lives. The students were extremely receptive and took the initiative to be a mentor instead of letting the “little things” get to them. From then on, the students helped each other with our elder student taking some initiative with teaching the ropes on the program and group culture.
The group was able to enjoy our hikes during our expedition and though there were certainly some struggles, they pushed through and succeeded! Our new student showed a lot of growth throughout the week and was engaged during morning meditations, and overall seemed to be transitioning well into the program. Overall, our students made major strides in their emotional and behavioral journeys this week.