Walking Sticks a wonderful educational weekend

Being a writer and a nature lover, I found the Walking Sticks and Writing Workshop at lovely Gwillim Education Center last weekend very helpful and lots of fun. If you missed it, let me share a few of my reflections and encourage you to sign up next year.

I arrived close to suppertime Friday to register and settle in for the evening activities. There were so many good programs to choose from, many of us couldn?t decide what to take. So Michele had each presenter give a brief overview of his or her class after a delicious lasagna supper catered by Mac?s on Main. Following the introductions we watched a well-made film on Monkman Falls, then everyone dispersed to the campfire, cabins, or in my case, to my cozy little camper parked in the grassy field beyond the cook shack. I slept like a log in the peaceful silence.

Saturday there were many nature activities, but I stuck with writing workshops for the most part. In the morning I enjoyed a two-hour session on writing poetry with Barry McKinnon and Ken Belford. Saturday afternoon I attended a workshop on song writing by Bill and Linda Studley. It was excellent! I especially liked Bill?s song on overcoming inhibitions. He plans to publish it soon so keep an ear out for it. I sing and play guitar myself, but have never written a song. After that session, I think I can actually write one. During and after a scrumptious Mac?s fried chicken dinner Saturday evening, Dr. Darren Irwin from UBC presented his research film on birds in the Tumbler area. Following that, the presenters read passages from their writings, and a few of us read from material we have written. Then it was time for some fun around the campfire. Linda, Bill and I took turns entertaining the crowd with a wide variety of music.

Sunday, most of the participants got up early and joined the group led by Dr. Helm, for some bird watching at Bullmoose Marshes. I stayed behind for another session with the visiting poets. We watched a hilarious film by Josh Massey on Canadian poets and poetry, filmed mostly in and around Ottawa. I gained a whole new perspective on poetry and its ability to entertain as well as invoke powerful emotions. Josh will be in Tumbler to share his film this summer. Don?t miss it! Larry White shared another film during lunch?this time beautiful scenes all around the Tumbler Ridge area, as well some from Monkman Falls, all set to the inspiring John Denver song, ?You Fill Up My Senses?. It made me more determined than ever to hike to all of the breathtaking destinations we are so fortunate to have close to Tumbler Ridge. I can?t say enough good things about my last activity for the weekend? the Sunday afternoon presentation by Shirlee Smith Matheson, fabulous Canadian author whose books many of you have probably read. I was so impressed! In that two-hour session she gave us so many good tips on writing just about any kind of fiction or non-fiction pieces.

Thanks so much to Michele Burton and Marce Fofonoff for planning such a great weekend, and to all those who had a part in making it happen