The Stargazers are back!

by Andrea Wackerle

Annie Egelkraut


Base Phase 5


They did it! The Stargazers made it back to Wyoming and were greeted with open arms, smiling faces, and snowy skies! Lounging around the Jackson Airport, while waiting for our whole team to arrive, allowed the perfect amount of time to catch up with one another and tell some fun stories before hopping into the van for our long haul back to our familiar home, Eagle View Ranch. There were many sleepy eyes and resting heads on our commute back to base and by the time we made it back everyone was rested and rejuvenated. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with excitement by our newest participant, Kevin! All that was left was to wait for Nick to arrive later that evening, and we would all be back to the little home we’ve created. That evening, the team unpacked their items, settled back in, and made themselves comfy with one another, while we celebrated being back together as a family. We also enjoyed a home-made pizza party. Yum!


Our first full day back started at the sound of the entire team cheering and ranting, greeting Nick back, as it was the first time most of the team was finally all together! We enjoyed our breakfast, continued with stories of vacation and being back home, and all getting to know our newest friends: Kevin and Carson. The majority of our day was spent in conversation with families, during inbriefs, and re-organizing and cleaning personal spaces. It was certainly a full day for each of us, which ended ever so sweetly: an ice cream social! Our bowls of ice cream were topped with warm freshly baked brownies.


The next couple of days were spent getting back into the rhythm of GAP life. Tuesday morning started with a fun life-skills class, taught by Grant, on the topic of Team Building. We talked about what team building is, what it looks like, and the different benefits that come from team building. The Stargazers spent an hour playing different games and being a part of several activities that challenged them, as a team, and allowed them to figure out several different strategies in order to work together and achieve specific tasks and goals. It was a nice way for the team to let out some energy before we jumped into reviewing our budgeting skills! After lunch we all created fitness goals for ourselves that we can reference on days that we work out at the gym. The remaining parts of our day involved walking around base for fresh air, racing each other down the hill on sleds, working out in the barn, and even deciding the destination for our upcoming Expedition: Arizona and California it is!


With accomplishing so much the previous day, it was refreshing to start off Wednesday with a Yoga class in town! Last semester, we quickly discovered how much we all loved yoga and we were thrilled to be starting this semester off with a session! We left class feeling restored and ready to tackle our to-do list for the day. First, another Life Skill – this time concerning Transition Plans and Expedition Planning. With already having decided that we’d like to travel to Arizona and California, everyone was really excited to get down to the nitty-gritty with the Expedition Planning. Hours were spent researching all of the the different places that each team member wanted to visit and talking about all of the different places that everyone was finding!


Thursdays schedule was very similar: a Life Skill lesson on Executive Functioning, followed by diving right back into figuring out the details for our Expedition. This day, we realized we would need to flip-flop our Expedition plans so that we would be in Phoenix, Arizona on a week day for a tour of the SALT Program at Arizona State University. The switch worked out perfectly and left us doing more research into all the different activities we could incorporate into the Expedition! With all of that hard work complete, a trip into town for an hour of movement at the gym was exactly what everyone needed! Half of the team used this time to lift weights and run on the treadmills, while the other half of the team danced their hearts out in the Yoga studio. Fun was had, and it felt great to release some energy!


Every Friday morning of our base phases, we have a weekly meeting with the whole team and Nicole. Our morning meeting this week served as the perfect opportunity to catch up, all get onto the same page, and talk a bit more about our Expedition plans. Next up were tier check-ins. This allowed the whole team to chat with their primary mentors, talk about individual goals and strategies, review budgets, and talk about how things have been going since arriving back to SOAR. As the Stargazers finished up their check-ins, they found it the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having and take the sleds out for more races down the hill.


I think everyone looks forward to the weekend because we have the chance to sleep in just a bit! We all set our alarms an hour later than usual, met for breakfast, then were off to Riverton for a little food buy at Walmart. Once we got back to base we picked back up with our Expedition planning process. I think we’ve got it – the team squared away just about everything needed for our plan! Just a few finishing touches and our plan will be complete! Yay!


Sunday morning was spent with the Stargazers giving their full attention to those final, finishing touches. Before long, we were all heading back into town, this time to get some laundry done before we began packing for our quickly approaching adventure. The Expedition Plan was finished and just needed approval before the team could begin making reservations. The hard work and dedication really paid off, as everyone had the opportunity to take personal time and spend the evening unwinding, hanging out with friends, and getting college applications sent in.


Monday morning, the plan was approved and we were all set to finally make those reservations. Can you believe we were all wrapped up with the planning process before lunch time!? Campsites reserved, activities booked, maps printed, gear list created. Now, the only thing left: time to pack! We had another Life Skill, on this day, which led us to the topic of Social Media. And another Life Skill on Tuesday, concerning communication. Tuesday brought excitement to the whole team because they got back to volunteer for the first time since last semester.


Wednesday will find us at the Job Corps, in Lander, followed by another food buy before setting out on our Expedition! We are all so excited for what the next couple of weeks have in store for us. There was so much hard work and dedication put into this planning process and, with the feeling of accomplishment inside the Stargazers hearts, the team is ready to hit the road! We’ll meet again soon, with news of our travels and photos to share our experiences with you all.


Happy Trails!