Being a Wilderness Instructor ain't easy...

I believe in timing, and when I reflect on where I was internally arriving to Arizona for instructor development, it’s hard to deny that timing was right. The few weeks prior had been a whirlwind, working as a wilderness therapy guide in VT, and building out a camper van with my partner in my off time. I was in need of time to slow down. Those four days in the backcountry with Bri, Cinda (Bri’s mother, and the expressive arts therapist), five other instructors, and three interns, proved to be a safe space to take a deeper look at my needs as I prepared to become a mentor for the participants.

We must meet our own needs with care and compassion, before we can be of support to others, and it was clear that the instructor teams would be allowed to do so. This permission was something I had never experienced in any type of work training. The shame of having needs was dimmed with the support of our group. We were empowered to take care of ourselves, which would be emphasized during our training as a priority during our Soul journeys. Self-care time for instructors and participants was built into the structure of the day.

On the third day of instructor development, the eleven of us sat in a circle half-shaded by the ponderosa pines, each with four rocks at hand that we had been instructed to find. Jonesie, my co-instructor, facilitated a medicine wheel activity. (During Instructor development many of us led activities that we could utilize during our Soul journeys). She had chosen various rocks and sticks to create a compass on the earth, about ten feet in diameter, a couple hundred yards from where we were camping. It would become a sacred space for us to return to, and for me, a powerful experience of vulnerability.

- Sage Narbonne




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