Youth catch waves and build friendships in Tofino

With bags packed, we boarded the ferry for the shores of Tofino. You could feel the excitement as the youth scavenged the ship for the first activity, called Bigger and Better. Beginning with a pin, they had to trade up with fellow cruisers for items that were bigger and better, trying to come back with the best item. The activity set the tone for the week of friendships and teamwork as we bid adieu to the sun setting over the water.

Waking up in Tofino, our morning mantra for the day ahead was, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” The quote resonated deeply for many, including one participant who said he’d never heard it before but it was going to be his motto for life. With energy high, we met up with Hannah and the amazing staff of Pacific Surf Co at our resort, Ocean Village, to get geared up. With sweet swell on our minds, we set out for South Chesterman Beach.

After a few hours, with permanent grins plastered to our faces, we walked up the beach already eager to start again tomorrow. An afternoon spent exploring and playing games at Ocean Village was exactly what we needed, so that’s exactly what we did. The day wrapped up with celebratory fireworks for Canada Day, but they felt like they were for us. We celebrated the new friendships forming, surfing and the picturesque land we were touring.

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The next day we muscled our way back into the wetsuits to brace the waters and we were not let down. The waves on Cox Beach were spectacular that morning. Many determined folk began the lesson and finished with an accomplished sense of pride as everyone stood up.

Later that afternoon we boarded the bus to meet the staff from West Coast Aquatic Safari for an afternoon whale watching adventure. Again, we were not let down. We had an amazing time weaving around the islands following a mom and calf grey whale, spending time with the sea lions and checking in on a playful sea otter.

After the long day an outdoor movie night was just what we needed. PJ’s on, we settled in for an evening under the stars.

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Reflecting back on the trip, Suzanne Dunbar, Parent/Patient Advocate for BC Children’s Hospital said, “Seeing the difference in the teens from the beginning to the end of the trip reminds me of the importance of these experiences that Balding for Dollars and the Oncology/Hematology program provides. These trips help build trust, confidence and friendships that will have a long lasting effect on teens with cancer and blood disorders.”

In the morning we boarded the bus bound for home. Their journey will continue on many years after our time in the Tofino sun, sand and sea. I am humbled to have been a part of it all.

– Story shared by Alli Hallett, Vancouver Adaptive Recreation program facilitator
– Surf photo courtesy of BC Children’s Hospital, credit to Pacific Surf Co.