Summers End

Summer is coming to an end in Klamath Falls and the student body is gearing up to get back in school after more than a month since the summer term classes ended.

September at Dragonfly is a unique month that allows the program to challenge the students on a level that the normal routine may not. Each year during the extended break Dragonfly runs multiple trips in a variety of places.  Each student participated in a “caseload” trip.  Our caseload trips offer a time when the therapists, their students and mentors step out of the norm and into a multi day experience.  These trips give the therapists a deeper glimpse into the personal interactions between the students on their caseload.  By being with them all day for a week they see behaviors and patterns in real time and can offer deeper insight and direction.  Aside from the therapeutic benefit of these trips they also offer an exciting diversion and a chance to refresh, regroup and recommit to their personal process for the upcoming term.

The following are some words and images from each of the trips this year.

Zion Trip

Peter’s caseload set off on September 16 for their adventure to Zion National Park in southern Utah! After a very early wakeup time of 5am, we were on the road. The first stop was Great Basin National Park, in Baker, Nevada, to camp for the evening. We slept under a beautiful blanket of stars and enjoyed pointing out constellations and taking in the night sky.

The next day continued the drive through Nevada and then into Utah and finally Zion National Park. We were excited to be assigned 2 campground sites that were next to one another and located on the edge of the Virgin River. The group set up camp, explored the campground and the river. After dinner, some students swam while others played Banana-grams, Yahtzee and cards. Fun was had by all, and once we were all tired, we retired for the evening for a needed good nights rest.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

The next day after breakfast we caught the shuttle into the park. We rode along, listening to an audio tour that explained details of each stop and the park in general. We disembarked at the Zion Lodge, which gave us access to the Emerald Pool hiking trail. This hike is one of the most popular in all of Zion. It’s 3 mile hike featuring two loops, elegant waterfalls, and perfect views. At the turn-around point of the trail sat the largest of the Emerald Pools and a HUGE rock, that we scaled to take some fun pictures. After the hike, we continued hiking to the Grotto—another stop along the Zion shuttle tour. From there, we moved on to Weeping Rock, where spring water seeps out of the rock every day of the year. After returning to our campsite the group chose to head into the local town of Springdale, Utah to visit tourist attractions and shops that featured local products and artists. One of the most interesting shops sold various types of gemstones, rocks and other types of natural wonders. After exploring Springdale, we headed back to the campsite for dinner, games and a full night’s sleep.

On day four we packed lunches and snacks for the afternoon because today we would be hiking “The Narrows”. The Narrows are considered to be the grandfather of all slot canyons. These canyons feature steep, narrow slots that have been cut into the Earth by the Virgin River. The majority of the hiking is done in ankle to waist deep water of the Virgin River, stepping from rock to rock, log to log and even swimming at times. Before embarking on our journey up river, we stopped at Zion Adventure Company to rent the special equipment needed the hike: neoprene socks, special waterproof hiking boots and of course, a walking stick. After getting “geared up,” we hopped onto the shuttle to ride to the “Temple of Sinawava”, the entrance of the Narrows hike. We were excited to get started! Our adventurous group hiked and hiked, stopping periodically along shore banks to eat snacks and lunch, take pictures, drink lots of water, and occasionally jump off a rock or canyon wall into the waters of the Virgin River.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

The breathtaking views and sights of the Narrows were awe-inspiring! Along the way, we bonded together and helped one another; building each other up to overcome fears of swimming and claustrophobia, as well as to continue to press on, even once we were all pretty exhausted. We hiked approximately 4 miles into the Narrows, all the way to the turn around point just south of Big Springs. Our hike had a roundtrip total of approximately 8 miles; over 7 hours of hiking fun and adventure! After finishing up, our very tired group headed back to camp for a quick dinner, much needed showers and an early bedtime in anticipation of another day of adventure the next morning!

Our next adventure was canyoneering. Canyoneering involves various aspects of backcountry travel techniques, including hiking, rappelling, rock climbing and problem solving. Once we arrived at ZAC, we immediately met our guides and collected our individual gear that included a harness, helmet, “piranha” (rappel device), and safety webbing. Our guides, Gerard, Claudia, and Jon took us out to Lamb’s Knoll just outside the park and gave us a hands on safety course of rappelling.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

Next we ran one of the canyons as a large group to get a feel for the equipment and practices. Our crew did so well that we had enough time for our guides to split us into 3 groups and run other canyons separately! Once we completed our traverses we loaded up and headed back to ZAC. Since our trip was a ½ day trip, we all headed into Springdale to check out the town again. Afterwards, we traveled back to camp, cooked dinner, and participated in a process-oriented feedback group for both students and staff. Another full day.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

After two adventurous days it was time to have a down day to rest, relax and take in some of the other sights and cities that Utah has to offer. It seemed to be a perfect day to do so, since the rain decided to join us, and inhibited us from doing much else within Zion. We decided to head into St. George, Utah, where one of the staff used to live. He acted as a guide and we stopped at an outlet mall and did some shopping, explored the downtown area and its shops and parks, and went to the movies! Then dinner at In and Out Burger. We headed back to camp with full bellies and happy hearts, excited for what the next day would bring!

We started the day with another very early wakeup (5:30am!) for the activity that was to come: a ½ day of mountain biking trip!! We met our guides Bailey, Rob and Gerard and saw that there were 12 bikes waiting for us on a specialized trailer. The guides drove us approximately 30 minutes away to the town of Virgin, Utah, to ride the Jem Trail, located at the base of Gooseberry Mesa.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

Bailey, Rob and Gerard gave us a detailed rundown of the types and quality of bikes we would be riding, as well providing an overall orientation to bike parts, general riding guidelines and safety protocols. Each bike on the trailer had been dialed in for our needs and we were all excited to see who would get each of the awesome, colorful bikes. After everyone was ready, we strapped on our helmets and took off for the ride! Our guides provided an amazing cross-country ride, with features of large rocks, uphill and downhill stretches, switchbacks, plenty of laughs and beautiful, sweeping views. Towards the end of the ride, a canyon rim ride was available for those not faint of heart, while the rest of the group finished with a smooth, downhill trail. The bike ride was approximately 7 miles; not too shabby for many members of the group who had never been mountain biking before!

After returning to camp, there were 3 options for students to chose from for the rest of the day: hike Zion’s famous “Angel’s Landing”, go to a swimming hole within the park, or swim and lay by the pool at our campground. Each option caught the attention of several students, so we split into groups. Those who went swimming, both at the swimming hole and the pool, enjoyed themselves and had fun in the sun.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

The group who hiked Angel’s Landing came back inspired and impressed. This hike features a switchback trail that ascends to 1500 feet above the valley floor below. Talk about dizzying heights! The incredible summit is a rocky crest perch that allows for 360-degree views of Zion Canyon. This hike was not for everyone. At higher points of the trail, hikers must hold onto chains that were built into the rock by the National Park Service. The group who chose to go to Angel’s Landing said the hike was well worth the strenuous and fear-inducing 4 hours.

After showers, a yummy dinner, and some games, we settled in for our last night in Utah.

Day nine of the trip was our last. We woke up at 5:30am to break down camp and get on the road. Tired students and staff alike napped during the van ride, as well as read, listened to music and played games. The music was so good at one point that many students began to dance in their seats. It even got the driver to jam along with them. We stopped for food and snacks along the way, usually when filling up with gas. After lunch at a park we played some Frisbee. The group participated in a process-oriented group about how they overcame fears during the trip and how they broke outside of their “comfort zone.” This discussion was a very positive one! We continued heading home traveling the rest of the evening and returning home to Klamath Falls and Dragonfly around 11:30pm.

After many miles and memories, our trip had officially come to an end for travel, but not to a complete end yet… The next day included grocery shopping, laundering trip gear and personal clothing, returning gear borrowed from Dragonfly’s gear room, completing a trip evaluation and participating in a trip debrief. All of the students fully participated and rocked it! This caseload trip turned out to be a hit for everyone involved.

Pacific Northwest

This year for Patrick Devlin and Jennifer Patzke’s caseload trip, we took a tour of the Pacific Northwest. Our intention for the group was to further connect clients with Mentors and their Therapists while taking in the majesty of the region.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

We began by leaving Klamath Falls to visit Mt. Saint Helen’s National Park. We toured the mountain, explored the Visitor Center/museum, and took a hike on the Hummocks Trail. We learned a lot about the volatility of the area, and enjoyed the beautiful sights.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

From there, we traveled North to Seattle. We camped at a KOA, and everyone was very grateful for the shower. After cleaning up, we headed to a Major League Soccer game between the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake. These two teams are at the top of the standings for major league soccer this season and Salt Lake played in the finals last year, so it was a treat to be able to see them live. It was such an intense game, and our group fully participated in cheering for the home team. It was a back and forth battle, but Seattle came away with the victory much to everyone’s delight. Many lost their voices from celebrating, and we all had a blast.

The next morning was incredibly fun. We packed up camp and toured the EMP museum. This museum specializes in music, pop-culture, and science fiction. There was an exhibit for the Seattle native band Nirvana, a horror movie display, an entire floor dedicated to the Fantasy genre, a concert auditorium, Sci-Fi models, actual props from movies and television, and studio equipment to record your own jams. Everyone fell in love with the place, and one student was even quoted: “Can I live here?” Reluctantly, we had to leave and get back on the road.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

We had reservations to camp at Moran State Park on the gorgeous Orcas Island. While there, we visited the town, played in the lake, and relaxed at camp. We played Magic cards, hiked the grounds, and generally just enjoyed each other’s company. The premiere activity on the Island was a horseback ride up Mount Constitution with Orcas Island Trail Rides. We rode many different trails with varying degrees of difficulty, but it was very exciting and a welcome break from hiking. After just a few hours, we were all loving our mounts; they are quite intelligent creatures and very easy to favor. We then headed back to the mainland via a short, yet relaxing ferry ride.

Next, we headed south to Portland, where we would be stayed in a hotel after three nights in tents, and everyone was thankful for the hot water and air conditioning. We got gussied up and went out to eat at The Screen Door, where the food was amazing. The chefs were masters of southern cuisine, and the students’ bellies were very full, and all were content. We spent the last night of our trip in soft beds reflecting on our inside jokes and fond memories we created during our weeklong escapades in the Pacific Northwest.

Bend

Today was the start of Devon’s caseload camping trip. Giddy up. Eight of us left Dragonfly at around 10:00 am. Luckily we took the silver van, the nicest one :). It’s even the only one with an auxiliary cord so we were able to play DJ. We listened to cool tunes while sleeping on the two and a half hour car ride.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

Oh yeah! On the way there we stopped at some random park (Lapine State Park) with a beautiful river next to it. I ate a strawberry preserves sandwhich. It was the bomb.com. Later on we went to The High Desert Museum right outside of Bend. We saw bald eagles, owls, and there was an exhibit “under construction” with a real live ladder in it. Unfortunately we had to leave the museum at four but who cares! We got to our really nice campsite with toilets and a sink after we left. We set up the tents and started dinner. For dinner we had taco salad. It was really decent. Now as night falls there is a warm fire. I had heard a rumor that there were marshmallows…

The next day we went on a Segway tour of Bend. I found it pretty fun, because the oddness of such a sensation of movement would probably put anyone in a good mood. Even the very skeptical group members had fun with it. After that we went shopping downtown. My friends and I found a cool Japanese store. We did not get anything, but as I was leaving I found something that I would have bought. For dinner and dessert we had some unusually delicious turkey burgers and an amazing Oreo pie.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

The activity for the next day was paddle boarding on the river and then went looking for an art show in Bend. We did not have much time walking around downtown before we needed to head back to camp to make dinner and relax for the evening. The next day our group did a charity 5K walk in Bend. The purpose of this walk/run was to raise awareness and support for mental illness. Doug was the only one of our group who actually ran while some of us walked quickly:) Other members of our group walked very slowly and enjoyed the scenery and the funny costumes many of our fellow walkers wore. We walked through Drake Park along the river where we got a view of the multimillion-dollar houses along the river bank. People of all ages joined the adventure, and many supporters brought their dogs (much to my delight). After the walk, many shared their stories about their battles against mental illness. I told mine about bipolar II disorder and how Dragonfly has changed my life. – Suzanne

 

Northern California

Day 1 began with the always fun filled task of getting everyone packed up and loaded. The drive towards the coast is full of luscious green colors and towering trees, a truly beautiful route. Before we knew it we had reached the coastal highway. The fresh sea air filled our lungs as we cruised down the highway. By this time we were beginning to get hungry. Luckily for us, our trip leader called ahead and set us up at a local Mexican restaurant in Eureka. After filling up on some amazing burritos and enchiladas, it was time to travel the final stretch to the campsite.

The sun began to set as we travelled through to giant and mysterious redwoods. Just as darkness set in, we arrived at camp. The campsite was awesome. We were surrounded by huge trees and plenty of wildlife. Setting up camp went smoothly and we soon settled in. There wasn’t a fire the first night, so we gathered around the picnic bench with a water bottle full of headlights to talk about what we were doing the next day. It was there we decided to share some things we are grateful for in life before we headed to bed. The group found that there are many things to be grateful for in life and sometimes a person can overlook the good things and pay too much attention to the bad. This was the perfect way to end the night.

Day two began with smell of coffee and breakfast on the stove. Our trip leader got up early and began to prepare breakfast burritos for the group. It didn’t take long for the students to realize a feast was being prepared and they began to rise from their slumber. After dominating breakfast and cleaning up the camp, we loaded up for the day and headed towards the harbor for a morning of kayaking in the bay. The students went on a guided trip through the bay. The kayak guide was very knowledgeable about the area and made sure all the students were taken care of and accounted for.

After the students got back from kayaking, they were treated to a seafood lunch where they enjoyed fresh and delicious seafood. Next we headed into town where we explored the mall and local shops for a while and then we headed out to our camp to prepare dinner. As dinner was being prepared, students played hacky sack, Yahtzee, and Magic the Gathering. Dinner included BBQ chicken, kale salad, potatoes and for dessert banana boats. It had been a long day so after cleaning up, most of the students were ready to turn in for the night.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

Day 3 was a special day as it was one of the student’s birthdays. She had requested pancakes and our trip leader obliged with homemade chocolate chip, coconut, marshmallow and banana pancakes and the students even got to sleep in! After indulging in a delicious breakfast, we took the morning slow and played some games. There was a hollowed out redwood stump on our campsite so a couple of the students and staff investigated it. There wasn’t any secret treasure unfortunately, just some trash so we took it out and threw it away. After packing lunches for the day, we headed towards the “Avenue of the Giants” which featured some of the largest redwoods in the world. Staff members and students both ran around the trails and explored the giant trees and hollowed out stumps. We then went into some local gift shops and headed to get ice cream for a birthday celebration. There we ran into a friendly dog which the students fell in love with and scratched his belly until we went back to camp to prepare dinner. Tonight dinner included teriyaki steak with Chinese noodles. The birthday girl helped with dinner and it turned out amazing. After everyone ate, we enjoyed a quiet night by the fire reading, playing hacky sack, listening to music, and of course more Yahtzee games.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

For day 4 we decided to pack up camp and head closer towards the coast so we could get up early on the final day to see the tide pools. We drove through the giant redwoods for one last time and the students decided to blast dance music the entire drive. They were making the van shake with their van dance moves and laughed the whole way to the beach. When we got to the beach, many students were timid about getting into the cold water of the northern California coast. We started our beach time by exploring the beach and throwing the Frisbee and football around. It didn’t take long for the students to get called out by the staff team for not getting into the water. After a little coaxing, most of the students decided it was time to get crazy and jump into the bitter cold ocean. Sure enough the enjoyed the experience. After drying off and changing clothes, we went into Crescent City and decided to watch a movie. As we waited for the movies to start, some of the students went into a nearby sushi restaurant and had some teriyaki chicken and sushi rolls. When the movie ended we headed to our new campsite to set up camp. A fire was made and dinner tonight included hobo skillets, which turned out excellent.

Summers End Trip Reflections - Dragonfly Transitions

While at the beach, the students were given an assignment to find three items that could represent their past, present and future. We ended the night by sitting next to the fire and discussing the items we chose and their meaning. After everyone had presented we packed up the food in the bear closets and went to bed. We concluded out trip by waking up early the next morning and going to the tide pools. There, students were able to walk along the coast and closely examine local marine wild life. There were hermit crabs, sea anemones, sea stars and even a huge dead seal. After our morning exploration, we got in the vans and headed back home with only a short stop in Medford to enjoy some delicious pizza.

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