Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We Sent Our Daughter To A Wilderness Camp

The first letter I received....  " I hate it here - I hate the weather - I hate the bugs - I hate the dirt.  I have to pee in a hole.. And how the  Hell am I suppose to take a dump standing up?????"

The 2nd letter I received.... " I cry all the time..  Please come get me - I promise to be a better daughter..  I've been in a camp with only counselors - I can't talk to the other girls until I make a backpack, make a spoon, and bust a coal (make fire).  I hate it here!"

The 3rd letter I received.... " I am now with the other girls - they are very nice.  I think I may have a new friend she likes the same music I do.  We hiked to the top of a mountain - I was going so fast up the hill that the counselors said I rocked.  I fell down the trail and sprained my ankle but I still pushed through it.  I feel proud of myself- I miss and love you"

The 4th letter I received... " We slept under the stars last night - it was so beautiful.  I am really sorry for a lot of the stuff I've done and I hope that we can work through this..  The hikes are very funny - we sing a lot and talk about very random things that are hilarious. One of the girls here had a token ceremony and trail name - I want a trail named after me someday.  I love you to Saturn and back."

The 5th week letter I received... "I am realizing that my depression isn't who I am but a feeling that I get.  I am learning different ways to get out of my head.  I busted a coal and had ramon with a maple spice it was delicious. I was co-leader in my group this week.  I plan the hike and give out chores for the girls to do when we set up camp."

The 6th week letter I received in person....  This is the week that we spent a day with our girl...  We arrived in Lehi, Utah on a Sunday night.  On Monday we attended an all day seminar on better communication skills and Tuesday we drove over 2 hours in a 4x4 all terrain vehicle to the middle of nowhere...  When we arrived at our destination - one of the counselors met us at the road.  He was telling us how much our girl has developed in the past few weeks.  He said that she had been a leader and the girls respected her....  He said that when the girls were showing disrespect to a counselor she stepped in and said that the disrespect was not okay (she would NEVER had done this before).. He said that she found her voice and is learning that she is worth much more than she had thought...  The counselor handed us a "bullroarer".  It was basically a piece of wood on a string..  We were to swing it in the air until it makes a loud whooshing sound..  Our daughter will hear that sound and swing her bullroarer in response so that we could find her (no words are used - just the sound of the bullroarer)....  After about 3 attempts of whooshing back and forth....  I see a pair of legs behind a tree...  All of a sudden - these legs start running and a very familiar voice is calling out "Daddy.... Mommy"  Then the most massive and longest hugs to ever hold my body came from my beautiful girl.  She wasn't mad...  She was happy to see us.. She was thankful that we loved her so much that we sent her here to this desert in the middle of Utah......

She was on a "solo" camp.  This happens shortly before a parent visit happens.  This gives the child time to think and plan without outside interference.  Her campsite was about 100 yards from the others...  It was very primitive.  She carried everything she used - sleeping bag, tarps, clothes, food, and necessitates. She cooked her own meals - she learned to do EVERYTHING on her own....  I was shocked on how much she had accomplished..  I was in awe of this incredibly self sufficient young woman in front of me....  We talked and loved each other... She performed a token and trail ceremony for her dad and I and gave us each a token representing how she felt about us...  It was a beautiful and moving experience..  Seeing tears well up in my husband's eyes confirmed that we were all affected by this transformation and special day...  Before dark we had to leave our girl at her solo site - she cried....  I walked away in tears... But I knew that I would see her again.....

The 7th letter I received .... "I think about you more than ever. I think about how much you must love me.  I think about how hard it must have been for you to send me out here and I am so grateful that you did because it helped me reflect on my past behaviors and actions and I am learning to make better decisions.  I have come so far from the girl that came here 8 weeks ago.  I know I have a long way to go and grow but I am optimistic and I look forward to my future.  I was put on an extended solo camp - this is an honor and privilege because it means that I have come to a point in my recovery that I know what I need to do.  My therapist gave me several assignments to work on.  She also wrote me a beautiful letter.  I do have to say that I am nervous about coming home - I don't want to mess up and fail.  I like the person I am now and I want to continue to grow..  Oh - I had a trail named after me - the girls voted and my trail name is Persistent Rose.  They come up with a bunch of adjectives and nouns that describe me and vote them down to a final name.  Here is a poem I wrote

The following week she was surprised to find out that she was coming  home....  She has been home for two weeks today.  I see many positive changes..  She does miss her Outback Wilderness Camp.  She misses the connections she made with all the other girls, counselors, and therapist.  Every day I pray that we as a family will continue to grow in love - tolerance - objectivity.  We are a great family filled with very much love and I am optimistic to what our future holds...

This is when both of our daughters saw each other for the 1st time at the airport - find a Kleenex.


  1. Ok fine, make me cry at work! <3 Your sis Debbie

  2. That was a very moving story. It sounds like a wonderful experience for your daughter to have.

  3. What a great post! I'm sure it was an extremely hard decision to send her, but what a wonderful experience it turned out to be.

  4. I'm sure this was a gut-wrenching decision for you to make. I am so glad that the experience had the effect you had hoped for. Raising teenagers is hard,heart-breaking,hilarious, and fulfilling, all at once. The best to your family. HUGS


  5. Oh wow, what a great post. I teared up.

  6. I had to read back to catch up - I;m so happy there is a positive outcome and future. Such a hard disease to live with for her and for you as her family. Blessings to you all.

  7. oh yes! You did make the perfectly right decision. Maybe you will have to do it again when she needs more support, but ... wow! What a wonderful success story. Blessings on your brave and loving family.



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