In early October of this year nine students from the Heritage girls program and their home mentors enjoyed a two-night, three-day camping adventure in Goblin Valley, UT. Goblin Valley includes slot canyons and geological features called “hoodoos” referred to locally as “goblins”. The Home Director, Susie Routt, chose Goblin Valley because “the beauty is unlike anywhere else and it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of the students”.
Little Wild Horse Canyon is a hike in Goblin Valley that changes from an open, flat trail to a narrow canyon with boulders hikers must climb over and around. This experience allowed the students to help each other overcome obstacles and fears – in this case fears of small spaces. Several students developed leadership characteristics by encouraging others to focus on the beauty around them, to see the big picture, rather than getting caught up in seemingly large obstacles.
Despite heavy rain the second day the girls remained energetic and positive. While they waited for the storm to pass, they decorated t-shirts with motivational quotes and made friendship bracelets. The bracelets included an anchor to symbolize being anchored as a home and helping to keep each other safe.
The students enjoyed climbing the Hoodoos for many reasons, mostly because they thought they were “awesome looking”. They enjoyed finding “alien faces” and other shapes in the large rock formations. They were able to physically help one another climb up or use verbal encouragement from the ground.
A favorite for students and staff was the hike to Goblin’s Lair. This hike featured the open desert, a scramble up and over boulders, and then a down-climb into the cavernous formation knows as The Goblin’s Lair. While in the cave the girls shared words of encouragement and set goals of how to “leave personal goblins in the lair”.
Back at Heritage, the students are now more unified as a home and are able to apply their leadership skills both in school and in the home. One of the students shares, “I learned that if I can be a leader by example in the wilderness, I can also be a leader in the home”. The residential staff noticed that the communication of the girls has improved since their trip and they are better able to work through challenges as a home. They accomplished hard things and now have confidence to apply the skills they learned in the future. Some students learned to lead by example, others learned how to better trust others.