Weekend Wellness Retreats
With the isolation that an HIV diagnosis can bring, you might appreciate being able to connect with HIV+ peers about living with HIV, whether it’s only been a few months since diagnosis or years. Positive Women’s Network has been offering weekend wellness retreats since 1993, and women from all over BC have benefitted, meeting new people and making friendships that see them through ups and downs.
When are the Retreats and How Can I Attend One?
Retreats take place from a Friday to a Sunday. PWN support staff are on site all weekend, as well as a nurse to deal with any medical issues that might arise. They usually take place at one of three retreat sites on Bowen Island, in Langley or in Maple Ridge, BC.
In order to apply for a retreat, you must be a registered member with PWN. We need an application form and confirmation of your HIV status from a doctor or nurse. If you’re not already a member and apply for a retreat and membership at the same time, be sure to include your membership form. Once you’re accepted to go on a retreat, all costs are paid by PWN, even travel costs for women from out of town.
Women meet at PWN and travel to the retreat with others, or meet us at the retreat location. We prioritize women who have never been on a retreat, women who are newly diagnosed, and women from outside the Lower Mainland area.
What Happens At a Retreat?
Once you arrive at the retreat centre, there will be a mix of structured circles, workshops and free time. The only things you are required to attend are the opening circle on Friday night and the closing circle on Sunday. Otherwise, you can figure out what will benefit you most.
Workshops topics can include HIV treatment information, sexual health, learning about HIV and the body, complementary therapies, self-care strategies, communication skills and more (each retreat is a little different). There are always some fun things thrown in (dancing is a popular Saturday night event!). Attendees are encouraged to lead workshops if they have skills they’d like to share. There is also a lot of free time to explore the grounds, go on guided walks, and relax with others and talk about whatever comes to mind.
For those who want to know more about planning a retreat, you can order our Retreat Planning Toolkit. It’s a resource for groups across Canada who can benefit from our learning process over the years. If you’d like more information about a specific retreat, please email us.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to bring?
Your personal items & clothes for the weekend (only as much as you can carry!). Good walking shoes and a warm jacket if you want to go on a nature walk. And last but not least, don’t forget your sense of humour!
What does the child subsidy -cover?
We do not provide childcare, but we will reimburse you for the cost of childcare with your own childcare provider while you are at the retreat weekend. The age limit for the subsidy is 18 years old. The child/children must be in your care at the time of the retreat weekend. You will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $90 per 24 hour period.
What about using medicinal marijuana? What about using drugs or alcohol?
Yes, you are permitted to use medically-prescribed marijuana, but we ask you to do so respectfully. You must be discreet in your use of medicinal marijuana, and, if smoked, it must be used outdoors. In order to create a safe space for all women, we cannot tolerate the use of drugs or alcohol during the retreat weekend. Please refrain from any drug discussion and/or promotion.
Is there a nurse on-site? What about using methadone? What about my medications?
Yes, there is a community health nurse present at the retreat weekend should you require any minor care or have any medical questions. All prescription and over the counter medications, including methadone, are to be held by and administered through our nurse at the retreat weekend.
How do I get there?
Staff from PWN will be in contact closer to the retreat weekend to arrange individual transportation needs. Transportation is FREE no matter where you live, whether travel arrangements entail carpooling, buses, ferries or planes.
What about confidentiality?
PWN recognizes that their members have the right to privacy and confidentiality. All information that pertains to a PWN member, whether that information is verbal or written, is treated as strictly confidential. We encourage everyone who participates to keep what happens there and who is there confidential.
Is food provided?
Yes, there are three meals per day provided, plus snacks in between. We will try to address any food issues, food allergies, preferences, dislikes and nutritional supplement requests.
What about sharing rooms?
Because of cost, we ask that members share rooms. We will do everything to place you in a room with women you choose to share with.