Exploring New Edges on Dragonfly Summer Trips

Dragonfly students recently embarked on outdoor adventure-based trips to try new experiences, develop self-confidence, deepen friendships, and refresh with a new perspective after finishing the school year. While visiting the surrounding area near Bend, Oregon, the students came together to go camping, rock climbing, kayaking, and to explore new experiences in the beautiful, rugged outdoors of Oregon. Here is one student’s experience about exploring new edges to conquer her fears:

I’m afraid of heights, afraid of not feeling secure, and I knew this was going to be more of a mental battle for me instead of a physical one. After two hours of avoiding the rock climbing activity, I decided I should give this a shot, just to say I tried. I asked that Cory belay me. Before we even started, he said, “I’m going to challenge you, but I’m also going to listen to you.”

So I set out climbing a 5.6 and was going steady for the beginning section. As I climbed up to the steeper section, I instantly doubted my abilities and froze up. I had an idea of which holds I wanted to use, but I didn’t know where I should put my feet or how to shift my weight correctly as I made my way up the rock face. Brandon, one of our guides, stepped in and assisted me on the last section. He guided me to jam my body into the wall, and then stem my right foot out so that I could lift my left foot up to finish. I touched the anchor at the top and was relieved. As I was lowered, I was elated. Going into this activity I never thought that I would, but I did make it to the top.

– Student J.L.

Setting the scene for the adventure, here are some additional highlights about the trip:

The view directly across from the face we would be climbing today was absolutely stunning. We could see the nests of several Birds of Prey and watched two Golden Eagles feeding their young up the canyon. We climbed six routes and repelled one on the face today, often belaying for each other. Overall the day was remarkable and full of personal victories from everyone. We had a group member who is terrified of heights work with one of the trip leads to recognize and work through their fear.


We scoped out the majority of the lake via kayaks, and as we did, it was such a relief to the eyes and soul being able to breathe in the crisp fresh air and open our eyes wide to the natural beauty of the world. 

-Student P.R.

On this adventure one student from our group worked with one of the mentors to overcome their claustrophobia together they went from barely entering a cave at the Lava Beds Monument in May to going nearly two thousand feet into the cave according to our guide.


We visited around the campfire, enjoyed s’mores, and then went to bed listening to the Coyotes singing in the distance.

– Student


Once away from the home of Dragonfly, students and the group begin to bond; jokes are told, bad music is sung loudly, and nicknames are made. After the first day of getting settled and swimming to cool off from the heat, we had our first activity of caving. Students crawled and climbed in the dark up rocks and through tunnels. Some students challenged themselves by squeezing through a tunnel a little larger than a basketball. Emerging from the dark high fives and cheers came with the exhilaration of conquering fears and creating a meaningful experience.

The day of rock climbing came with a 5:30 am wake up call. After breakfast and packing a lunch we drove to the famous climbing spot, Smith Rock. Our guides Chris and Brandon lead us to the crag for our days adventure, and students rose to the occasion amazingly. Scrambling across boulders, climbing, belaying, and rappelling are skills the students learned. And encouragement and courage are the skills they found within themselves and shared with others. One student in particular especially challenged her fear of heights.

We then went kayaking in the pristine Deschutes wilderness with a view of the South Sister Mountain.  The sun was warm on our faces and the lake cold from the mountain runoff.  Good times were had all around as we raced through the calm lake. Splash fights soon broke out which lead to one by one people jumping into the cold water. The car ride back to Wunderlust was cold as we were worn out from our day and the week of adventuring. We roasted potatoes in the fire that night, and after dinner the camp quickly fell silent as people turned in for sleep.


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