It was a cold winter morning on February 11th. Snow covered the sidewalk and also the side streets from the previous day’s snowfall. It was the day where our senior leaderships and volunteers got together to attend this 2-day conference and retreat over at Loon Lake. Our private bus came to pick us up. The main streets were cleared so traffic moved along slowly and smoothly. In just about one hour later, we arrived at our destination and left our belongings at our assigned building.
Once settled with our conference meeting room prepared and ready to go, we all sat together in a circle and began with introductions. It was fantastic to hear how each participant all became involved in the Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House community. Of course, we also discussed the importance of housekeeping during our stay at the lodge and being respectful with each other during conference sessions. Our safety during these outings is also a priority and we made sure everyone is aware.
To start the fun, an ice-breaker mini-game was planned. The game starts where one person mirrors the other person’s movements just like in a mirror reflection. After a minute or so, the other person leads while one follows. This was the perfect warm up to wake up our minds in the early morning and to test our reflexes.
Soon it was time to go for lunch. As a group, we all went to walk over to the dining hall, which is a separate building. Day one’s lunch meal included chicken burger, fries, coleslaw, cookies and fruits. Everyone enjoyed the food!
After enjoying our lunch, most of us went out for a walk and explored the outdoor area of the site while some of us decided to stay behind and rest up in their rooms at the lodge. Everyone remembered to follow safety guidelines as we discussed earlier.
It was a very cold day and a lot of snow around, but everyone was well prepared in their winter attire. Participants enjoyed the view and took photos of their adventures. Some of us went down to get a closer look of the ferry dock where there is a raft to cross to the other side of the lake. Unfortunately, the lake was partially frozen and it was closed due to safety reasons.
Digital Skills Workshop (facilitated by Lamont)
First conference session after lunch began with Digital Skills Workshop. Everyone learned about different tools that can be used to secure our identity in the online world. Topics include tips on password safety, internet safety, phishing email and scams, as well as how to upload your own videos to YouTube. It is important, especially for seniors in this modern technology world, to understand what is digital security and how to protect themselves from risks of identity theft and fraud.
Health and Wellness Session (facilitated by Glaucia)
In health and wellness, many of us are aware of and try to make the best choices for living a healthy life. In this workshop, participants learn about simple exercise tips that help improve their well-being. Maintaining one’s mental health is also just as important as physical health for both yourself and others. The final part of this session, participants experienced various types of breathing exercises as well as slow movements.
After doing some physical movements, everyone was hungry. It was finally dinner time so everyone walked out together to the dining hall. On the dinner menu, we had Angus roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, salad and cheesecake. Everyone enjoyed their meal.
Qi Gong Seminar (facilitated by Jacqueline)
Qi Gong is a Chinese martial art that practices cultivating the “qi” or vital energy in the body. Qi Gong focusses on slow movements, body posture and meditation, and help regulate breathing. With proper training and exercise, it will help calm the mind and relax the body.
Quilling Art Creative Workshop (facilitated by Jennie)
This hands-on workshop allowed participants to get creative. Quilling art is a type of paper craft technique that involves rolling and coiling strips of paper to create a design and then glued together on a canvas. Design examples were passed around for participants to get an understanding of how quilling art is like. Everyone had their own creative idea once they got inspired.
The group had just finished their last workshop and it was nearing the end of the day. Some of the participants decided to have fun with some dancing while others decided to go to their rooms to relax for some quiet time.
Morning came and it was a new day. It had been snowing overnight and was still snowing like a blizzard when we went outside. It was like a winter wonderland and everyone enjoyed the amazing view of nature.
By 8:00am, everyone had to have their belongings packed up and ready for breakfast. A nutritional breakfast was ready for us at the Dining Hall. On the menu, there were scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, roasted potatoes, and mixed fruits.
Social Isolation and Outreach Workshop (facilitated by Lysandra and Manda)
In this session, we discussed how we can reduce social isolation among seniors in our community. Volunteering in a community is important, especially for one’s health both physically and psychologically. It offers benefits and a sense of accomplishment while building social networks and confidence. Volunteering is about contributing and helping other individuals as well as working with others to build a better community. Participants work together and came up with ideas and outreach strategies.
Laughter Yoga Session (facilitated by Monica)
Laughter Yoga is a fun and relaxing exercise that involves a series of movements to stimulate laughter and joy. Participants learn and experience laughter in a whole new way. As one says, “laughter is the best medicine”. Laughter decreases stress and releases endorphins to promote a sense of well-being.
On the second conference day, lunch was Philly beef dip sandwich served with fries, spinach salad, and fruits — another healthy and delicious meal prepared by the staff at Loon Lake.
Community Vision Board Workshop (facilitated by Jennie)
A vision board is a collage of images, photos, and words that is designed to serve as a source of inspiration or motivation. It is powerful tool that uses the law of attraction and it works. In this session, participants worked together in small groups to create their vision of what they like to see or change within our community to make it a better place. Ideas include maintaining a positive attitude, staying healthy, new activities to try, building a compassionate community and much more.
Digital Storytelling Session (facilitated by Manda and Lysandra)
A few of the participants previously attended a digital storytelling workshop (facilitated by SFU students and previous students who took the digital storytelling workshop) and learned to use digital tools to document their life experience. A short film was put together using photos, music, and voice of the storyteller. Digital storytelling also allows the participant to learn digital media skills and build confidence and self-esteem.
Participants had an unforgettable experience during this 2-day conference and retreat. Everyone learned something new and everyone felt a little more confidence in themselves. Special thanks to our organizers and facilitators who made this a successful event. As a thank you, participants each received a gift card for their time and contribution.