A Base Phase in Full Swing

by Andrea Wackerle

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”20″ gal_title=”GAP Base Phase”]

As the Gapper’s returned from their first expedition, they had to hit the ground running to keep up with the busy pace of the base phase ahead of them. This second base phase was the true start to many of the components of the program including CWC college courses, volunteering, expedition planning and self-regulation of personal electronics. As we began our base phase schedule the Gappers were able to get into a routine and take on new responsibilities here at base including completing homework assignments, deep cleaning personal and group spaces and helping to complete the expedition plan. Even though the Gappers had many new responsibilities and commitments to fulfill during this base phase they still managed to get out and have some fun in and around Dubois. In this blog, I will share some more about the group’s experiences throughout this past base phase. 

After cleaning gear and unpacking from the first expedition the team went out on a paddling adventure to the beautiful Whiskey Basin just outside of Dubois. The team paddled on Trail Lake and fished for trout just below the Wind River Range. After the weekend ended the group was prepared to start their first CWC course, College Orientation, and met their professor Anne Even on Monday morning for a tour of the Riverton CWC campus. The course included assignments to help our participants understand what they wanted to get out of their college experience and what resources they could utilize to be more successful once they started a full load of college courses. By the end of the base phase, the team had finished their first course and will start their next course, Personal Finance, once they return from expedition. 

The team also engaged in three Life Skills classes taught by our staff team including The Power of Vulnerability, Using Social Media Responsibly, and Self-Awareness. Each lesson contains interactive activities to engage the participants and help them get the most out of these lessons and discussions. The life skills component of the program creates a space for our participants to grow and learn together and in turn, allows our staff to refer back to lessons taught in the life skills classes to hold our students accountable and help them reflect on what they may have already been taught. For example, in the life skills class The Power of Vulnerability, the Gappers were pushed to open up to one another in a deeper way through facilitated conversations. Moving forward this experience can help to create more meaningful connections and evening meeting discussions because of the understanding that being vulnerable with one another will allow students to express their thoughts and feelings, help others understand actions and emotions and help to resolve conflicts amongst the team. 

The team also took on the new responsibility of planning for their next expedition by reserving campsites, researching national parks to visit and creating a route for backpacking. The Gappers made many of the decisions on campsites and on what they wanted their trip to look like. I am excited to share a few of their major destination including Garden of the Gods, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Fort Worth Texas, University of Denver, and Elitch Gardens Amusement Park for Halloween! The group created a backpacking trip around Lake Georgetown with a total distance of 26 miles and hopefully, they will be in much warmer weather than we are having here in Wyoming. The team had a little less than two weeks to plan and finalize their second expedition and had to work together to complete the required criteria in order to leave on time for expedition. 

I wanted to share a few of the team’s unique experiences from this past base phase. On their weekend adventure trip, the Wyoming Warriors visited Jackson Hole for an enjoyable day out on the town. There, the group went ice skating, bought pumpkins for Halloween and took in a movie. The Wyoming Warriors were also able to participate in a special experience at the Diamondfly Ranch in Thayne, Wyoming. The team engaged in what is called equine-assisted learning and they were able to work closely with several horses to gain insight on how their personal body language and facial expressions can affect interactions with both the horse they were working with and in everyday communication with peers. The activities helped participants understand how making a connection with anyone can help with communication and leading those individuals with the aid of already having made a connection. After building a connection with their horse they then had to guide the horse through an obstacle course the group created without ever touching the horse. Once the team returned from this activity they all seemed to really enjoy their time with the horses and the overall experience. Another unique experience the team engaged in was our annual adopt a highway trash pick-up in which everyone hikes a two-mile stretch of the highway at the base of our neighborhood to gather trash and help keep Wyoming pristine and beautiful. Luckily the group was gifted a 60-degree sunny day and made an impact on our local landscape. 

Well, that wraps up this base phase blog! Follow along on Instagram to see where our Wyoming Warriors are heading next and keep up with their expedition. The semester is flying by and our participants are growing through their experiences and challenges. When the group returns we might be able to start some of our winter activities and we will keep you all posted. Thanks for reading!