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Recap: Pacific Northwest Slipstream

Words: Virtue Bajurny | Images: Blair Ryan

We landed in Seattle to fog. Lots of it. And this fog followed us all the way across the ferry to Orcas Island and right into YMCA Camp Orkila. It seemed a fitting metaphor for CIM’s first Slipstream in the US- new things are always a little hazy at first. Equally fitting: the fog began to lift as people arrived, and cleared as the weekend progressed.

Friday evenings at Slipstream events are always abuzz with nervous excitement for the people participating… How will this Slipstream unfold? Who will be there? Will I know anyone? How will I fit in over the weekend? But as people meet, chat, and become friends over that one common denominator- Type 1 diabetes- the nerves begin to ease. Pacific Northwest Slipstream was typical in this regard, as the same ease appeared to grow as people began to convene and socialize in the main meeting area Friday night.

The next morning we awoke to a damp grey morning, but one where the fog appeared to have dissipated. The full beauty of our location then became apparent. The expanse and view of YMCA Camp Orkila is truly impressive: woodlands across the grounds, with a view out onto the Salish Sea. Deer were a regular sight on any walk around the camp, while our sea kayaking adventures Saturday morning brought us in close proximity to swimming seals and diving porpoises.

By the time we moved to the high ropes course on Saturday afternoon people had settled into their new surroundings and friendships; the sun was shining through the thick clouds of the morning. Following this challenge course we moved onto a highlight of the weekend: the giant swing. What exactly is a giant swing? Well, it is an activity for the entire group where… Part one: you are attached to a cable. Part two: everyone on the ground pulls a rope to hoist you high up in the trees. Part three: you pull a lever to detach the rope the team on the ground used to hoist you up. Part four: you swing down from the tops of the trees, and then back, and then forth, and then back… etc., with screaming at the top of your lungs optional. Personally, this exercise was definitely outside my comfort zone, but also one of the most memorable challenges I accomplished over the weekend.

As the weekend drew to a close, we all talked about elements of YMCA Camp Orkila’s surroundings that felt like apt metaphors for the PNW Slipstream weekend. People used various parts of the natural environment to discuss the strengths of our Type 1 networks, communities, and friendships. As I finish writing this, it seems to me that the fog metaphor I opened with here is not only a fitting metaphor for the unease we sometimes feel when embarking on new adventures, but also perhaps for diabetes itself. We do keep onward, despite not always having a clear path of perfect control laid out ahead. But sometimes as we keep onward we are afforded other kinds of clarity by this condition, and sometimes that is in the new friendships and connections it yields. Thank you so much to everyone that came out to the PNW Slipstream weekend; you are all amazing and getting to know each of you really made the weekend an awesome experience.

CIM’s Pacific Northwest Slipstream happened in partnership with our cool friends Riding on Insulin. We’d like to thank Insulindependence, Ominpod, Tandem Diabetes Care for their support of the weekend.