Who makes the decision to do this trip? The teens, the parents/guardians and the Wild Grief staff all have input. The teen might ask: Am I ready to join a group of teens and be out in nature talking grief? The parents/guardians might ask: Do I feel this experience will help them with their grief? Do I feel they will be safe going on this trip? The Wild Grief staff: Is this teen is a good fit for the group and do they seem ready to take on this trip?
How do I speak to my teen about participating? Find a time when you are able to focus and listen to each other. Introduce the idea and give them time to process before you bring it up again. Let them know you want to support them in their process. Let them know they can call or text us to find out more.
How do I talk to my parent/guardian about participating? Share with them what sounds interesting or exciting to you about this trip You can let them know that all the facilitators are experienced in both grief work and wilderness backpacking.
How much does the trip cost? We offer this trip at no cost. We believe in this program and fundraise so any teen who is grieving can participate.
What do you actually do out there? Walk, breathe, talk, laugh, be still, sleep, eat, walk. The daily experience of living in the wilderness is so different from our usual life and there will be some structured grief explorations/activities. Participation is always by choice.
Is this gonna be like Man vs Wild? No, this is a trip about supporting each other to learn and experience the wilderness. You may find it challenging to walk with a pack all day but you will not be pushed into survival mode.
Am I going to be crying the whole time? No, that's not our goal, it won’t be 4 days of sadness. Setting aside time to honor and process your grief can be scary, feelings may surface that you have been avoiding but you are in charge of your process. Talking, being silent, crying, laughing, expressing your frustrations, and struggles are all possible things to get space and support for.
I’ve never backpacked before, can I still go? Yes. We have designed these hikes to work for people new to backpacking. You will need to be able to walk a couple of miles. You may want to condition by taking some long walks in the weeks before. Talk to a hike leader in advance about any concerns, they can help you figure out what to expect and how to get ready.
Are there snakes, or spiders, or lions, or tigers? What’s out there? OH MY! Our trips are in Southwest Washington State and there are no venomous snakes or dangerous insects in the areas. There may be an occasional black bear and our leaders can train you in proper etiquette around wild creatures.
What gear do I need? Good shoes/boots for hiking that won’t hurt your feet. Leaders will be able to let you know what to look for in hiking shoes. We have tents, packs, rain gear, cooking equipment, food and sleeping bags. We don’t want equipment to be a barrier to you coming so we will work to provide what you can’t (including boots).
Who goes on these trips? People like you, who are feeling that the grief that they carry is a bit too heavy or confusing; who want to feel the freedom of being away from their everyday existence to connect with nature; who want to connect with other teens who know what it’s like to have a person close to them die.
How does this help me? Having the space, time, and focus to give your full attention to the process of living in the wilderness is a transformative experience that allows your inner process to emerge and unfold. Trip leaders all have experience in supporting youth in their grief journey. You will be supported in sharing and processing as much or as little as you want.
Who’s leading the trip? What are their qualifications? Hike leaders have years of experience in wilderness living and grief support. Each trip will have a licensed mental health counselor and a Wilderness First Responder. See the about page for information about individuals background and training. Wilderness First Responders or WFRs are highly trained to assess and respond to medical emergencies in the wild.
How do the teens get to the trail? Wild Grief rents a van. We meet the morning of the hike at 7:00 in Olympia, hand out backpacking gear, help you pack, give you more backpack training, and travel by van to the trailhead and start our backpack trip.
What happens if there’s an emergency? Trip leaders have extensive training in Wilderness First Aid. We will be no farther than 6 miles from road access. We will have a satellite phone for emergency.
What happens after the trip? You are encouraged to keep in contact with each other. There will be a reunion hike in October. Wild Grief also sponsors Hike Habit, short monthly hikes in the South Sound area. We also have a three day long hikes in June, September and February.
Who can come to the hike habit? What about the day hikes? Anyone and everyone, the Hike Habit hikes are easy and only 1-2 miles. We do a grief opening circle before hitting the trail, the pace is easy with time for contemplation and sharing. The day hikes take a bit more stamina because we will be out all day, but we always accommodate paces as needed.
I want to volunteer, how can I help? We love to have you join our Hike Habit, let everyone know about us, help us with fundraisers, work on our website, take pictures, donate gear, do administrative tasks, grant writing and help plan our monthly hikes.