What better way to ring in the new year than spending time in nature? A group of Dragonfly students and staff recently returned from a five-day winter adventure in Bend, Oregon, where the group spent three days at Mt. Bachelor, the 6th largest ski resort in America, enjoying skiing and snowboarding in a beautiful winter setting. Mentor Ryder Talcott shares his experience of their New Year’s adventure.
By: Ryder Talcott
After preparing all our gear, packing up the vans, and having a short briefing about the trip, we hit the road and made our way north into the mountains to Sun River, OR. We had two rental houses for the week and when we arrived each group unpacked and spent the evening getting settled and preparing for an early start the following day.
We were all excited to hit the slopes! Students got up, ate breakfast and prepared for the day and we drove up to Mt. Bachelor for our first day of skiing and snowboarding. Once we arrived at the lodge, staff found a “home base” where the group could meet up throughout the day and we rented gear. Some students took lessons, as it was their first time trying out winter sports. Many of the students had not been skiing or snowboarding in several years so they chose to stick together for most of the day. Students would check in with grins from ear to ear and laughing as they told stories about their adventures on the mountain. After a full day on the slopes, the group loaded up and we returned home for the evening, where we enjoyed a nice meal and relaxed while telling tales of the days’ events.
The next day was New Year’s Eve! We had an early start – ate breakfast and packed up to head back to the slopes for another day of fun. We enjoyed beautiful blue skies, however, the wind remained high, which kept some of the lifts closed for the day. Some students chose a half-day of skiing and then went to the recreation center located just down the street from the rental homes to swim at the pool, relax in the hot tub, and play pool/billiards and foosball.
We enjoyed our New Year’s Eve party socializing, playing board and card games, dancing and singing, cooking and eating a feast. We celebrated the New Year by watching the ball drop in New York, which was three hours ahead of us and afterwards we held a therapeutic group for staff and students. We took a moment to reflect on 2018 and think about what aspects of our lives we wish to leave behind or that were no longer serving us in a positive way. Students were also asked to think about what aspects of their lives they want to carry with them into and develop throughout the new year. We spent about 10 minutes in silence as each of us self-reflected on these questions and decided what we wanted to share with the group. Students showed respect and support of one another throughout the group while many students made new connections with peers based on similar desires for positive change and growth.
Due to a late night and sore bodies from two days of skiing and snowboarding, staff and students had an extra hour before wakeup. After breakfast, we left for the mountain and were greeted by a clear day with little wind – our best day yet! Students were free to enjoy their time on the mountain skiing, snowboarding, or exploring snowshoe trails. With the nice weather, the summit chair lift opened which created excitement amongst the group. Some staff and students skied together for a while making their way to the summit and enjoying the first day that all the ski lifts and trails were open. We sat at the summit in awe and wonder at the amazing views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top Mountains across the way.
That evening students began packing and preparing their gear to head back to campus the next day. After dinner, we held a second group as a closing circle. We asked students to come up with their ‘highs,’ ‘lows,’ and ‘most memorable moment’ they experienced on the trip as well as some things they appreciated throughout the trip. The consensus was that the last day was the best day of skiing due to clear weather with no wind, smaller crowds and lift lines, and students being more comfortable on the snow. Students shared highs that ranged from their first time making it down a trail without falling to relaxing their muscles in a hot tub. Lows included frustration with long lift lines, frustration with learning a new snow sport, and that there was “too much snow” on our first day.
On our final day, students spent the morning finalizing their packing and helping with cleaning the rental before departing. We loaded the vans and trailer and were back on the road to Klamath Falls. Upon return, students helped thoroughly clean the vans and trailer before debriefing with staff. Students thanked staff and were grateful for the experience – it was a great way to start 2019!