Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Backpacking Trip

At Chrysalis, recreation is a huge part of healing. Recently, we took eight girls on a fall backpacking trip. On the first day was a short hike to an alpine lake. When we arrived, the girls set up their tents near the small streams that meander through the forest. One girl set up her hammock nestled between two trees with a nice A-frame tarp shelter set up above it. While dinner was being prepared, the girls built a fire to enjoy, sharing stories and laughter as the sun went down. 

The next day we woke up, broke down camp and hiked to another lake. After we set up camp there and had some lunch, we day-hiked to the top of an unnamed peak that we have called "Chrysalis Peak" for many years. It was a mental challenge for some to walk up the scree field, which was a new type of terrain for a few of the girls. In the end, everyone overcame their fears and reached the top of the peak. At the top, we enjoyed views from all angles. We looked down to the west and saw the town of Eureka and Lake Koocanusa, to the east and could see into Glacier National Park, to the north and saw the Canadian peaks and to the south the Whitefish Range. After soaking up the views and enjoying each other's company, we made the descent to our camp at the lake. What a beautiful and clear evening! We had pesto pasta for dinner and roasted s'mores around the campfire for dessert. 

On the last day, we woke up with a bittersweet feeling that we were heading home in just a few hours. As we hiked out, there were huckleberries that lined the trail the entire way down. Needless to say, the girls arrived in the parking lot with berry-stained fingers and faces. As we debriefed the trip, girls shared their favorite memories about the trip and what they learned throughout the weekend. Several girls shared funny moments and memories and others shared deep insight that they had gained while in the woods. The outdoors gives great opportunities for learning and growth and this year was no exception.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chrysalis Parent Retreats

Father-Daughter Retreat

Each year we venture to the wild and scenic section of the Missouri River to enjoy a 3-day float with our fathers and daughters. It's a beautiful paddle, complete with golden eagles, bald eagles, fish, canyons, and unique rock formations. Our girls paddle in a canoe with their dads, singing or chatting down the river. We stop for lunch along the banks each day, even finding time for afternoon swims. Though the trip certainly requires physical strength, it is typically a casual paddle with plenty of time for bonding.

This year, however, was much different. The wind was in our face each day, requiring extra strength and perseverance. Dads and daughters pushed through together. We even had an intense lightning storm and strong winds that damaged several tents. Each obstacle proved to be a learning and bonding experience; students, dads, and staff rallied together to fix tents in the middle of the storm. One student commented afterwards, "If this had happened a year ago, I would have only cared about my own things, but we were all helping each other out. Think about how we've changed!"

Mother-Daughter Retreat
Girl time is so important for our students. Thus, each year we ensure that moms spend quality time with their daughters. This year, we were at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp on Flathead Lake, staying in bunk cabins. Activities varied from tubing and waterskiing, to canoeing and kayaking. Spending time in the great outdoors is a fabulous way for moms and their daughters to bond and unwind.

In conjunction with all the fun, we made sure to do lots of in-depth family work during this weekend. We focused specifically on ensuring that mothers and daughters pay attention to the quality of their relationships and their connections with each other. One way we emphasized this was through triptych art collages. Each collage depicted the mother-daughter relationship in the past, present, and their hopeful depiction of the future. Our students and parents loved being able to express their feelings, without having to use words.

All too quickly, the weekend was over. It was a very productive and enjoyable few days for our moms and daughters. They shared the happy, nurturing moments and expressed gratitude. We are so excited to bring our moms back next year. There’s nothing like art and s’mores to bring us together.