Words by: Chloe Vance | Photos by: Mike Last

I can still call on vivid memories from the very first Slipstream. The people, excitement, conversations and revelations – feeling oddly jazzed about having diabetes. I can still sense the feeling of heading in from the crisp cold to a warm crackling fire and buzz of a crowd mingling in the lodge, the smell of wood smoke and insulin in the air.

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I remember the drive home from that weekend, my mind racing with stories, bits and pieces of conversations, ideas and insights.

But what I remember most was the euphoric, larger-than-life feeling that I was part of something greater than myself, I was part of the Slipstream.

Each year, Winter Slipstream rejuvenates and revitalizes that ‘Slipstream feeling’. Having been to four events and working with CIM year-round, you’d think that perhaps the impact would lessen. My personal sense of the Slipstream has matured with experience (I now expect to be inspired, shocked at what others have achieved and accomplished, and know I won’t sleep for 3 days). Though no less powerful, it is different.

My ‘Slipstream feeling’ is now a mix of personal and vicarious enthusiasm. Now, watching others experience their first cruise in the Slipstream brings a new kind of euphoria and reminds me of the impact this weekend has. It’s larger than life.

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This year’s Slipstream was the biggest yet with over 56 Type 1’s (and a few 5.5ers) joining us for the weekend. With growth, comes change. The 4th annual was hosted at YMCA Camp Pine Crest. Cozy cabins, a new dinning hall and over 650 acres of winter playground were ours for the weekend.

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Thanks to a generous grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the CIM Ambassador Program made its debut. CIM hosted 25 committed Slipstreamers for a day and a half of hands-on workshops before the ‘real’ Slipstream began. The goal?

Give these passionate CIM folks the tools and information they need to spread CIM’s mission, vision and philosophy in their own communities. We gave them some insight into the inner workings of CIM, explaining how events come to life. They shared their ideas, enthusiasm and passion for ‘breathing fresh air into diabetes education’ with us.

Secluded in a 100 year-old log cabin in the woods, ideas were formed and plans were created. Keep your eye on the CIM calendar for upcoming ambassador events in your community.

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As the Ambassador Program wrapped up, over 25 more Slipstreamers converged on Pine Crest from across the province and beyond. Medtronic Diabetes, Bayer Diabetes and The Eli Lilly Foundation all contributed to make the weekend a success.

As with past years, the following 48-hours were action-packed. After getting to know each other on Friday evening, the group was given the opportunity to take home their very own Contour USB meter as well as to use Bayer’s A1C Now devices. In 5 minutes, we were able to have our A1C’s tested in the comfort of the main lodge up at camp. Thanks to Medtronic Diabetes, Slipstreamers also had the opportunity to trial Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) technology. Once set up on their sensors, they participated in an educational session to learn the ins, outs, tips and tricks for getting the most out of the device. Conversations continued late into the evening…or wait, was it morning?

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Saturday morning the group split into groups to take on a series of challenges – building towers of snow, getting tangled in brainteasers, singing their hearts out and trusting each other on the Inuit Blanket. Themes of perception, behaviour and structure set the stage for Dr. Nick’s Triad of Change workshop, where we were challenged to question how we, as individuals, approach change. In starting to identifying our strengths, weaknesses and how we approach change, we were able to see where we must focus our energy if, and when, we intend to make change in our lives.

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Later that afternoon, Mark Davis challenged the crew on Pine Crest’s static ropes course. Four stories up, he coaxed and encouraged pairs through the sky-high obstacle course. Relying on each other, many were able to ‘change’ their perspective on what was humanly and personaly possible! Meanwhile, other Slipstreamers made the most of the fresh snow that continued to fall. They headed out across the frozen lake on snowshoes and cross-country skis. The tubing luge track was a hit, until warm temperatures and fresh powder made for Velcro-like conditions. By late afternoon, snow was falling faster than shovels could clear it, regardless, a small game of shinny emerged on the lake. As the sun set and the stars came out, 56 sets of rosy cheeks retreated to the warm lodge for supper. Outside, a full on blizzard was raging.

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After dinner, as tradition now dictates, I read the annual Slipstream toast. With over 50 champagne glasses raised, the crew took a moment to celebrate the year’s accomplishments, themselves and each other. Later on, Slipstreamers gathered around a snowy bonfire complete with Molson 67 beer, sparklers and s’mores. Back in the lodge, a series of rousing Minute to Win It Diabetes-themed games were underway. Soon, the entire group was cheering and chanting as people faced off in the syringe hanging, Dex4 sorting, ping pong ball shaking challenges. Rousing turned to raucous as the finals approached; titles and bragging rights were on the line!!

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Sunday morning came all to soon. Stories of evening (and early morning!) adventures rolled in as groggy-eyed participants gathered around the breakfast tables. Though weary (and sore!) from Minute to Win It, it didn’t stop the crew from heading back outside to play in the freshly accumulated snow. A big group game of snow ultimate, more cross-county skiing, snowshoeing and a full team effort on the Inuit Blanket rounded out the morning. After a letter writing debfrief and round-table sharing of our favourite moments from the weekend, we enjoyed one last meal together.

Four days at YMCA Pine Crest had come to an end. Folks said their goodbyes and began to trickle home. I knew that each car heading down the camp road would be filled with stories, laughter, insights, ideas and plans for the future, regardless of how many people were inside, regardless of whether it was their first, second, third or fourth time at the event.  Everyone would be buzzing, despite their physical exhaustion, with a sense euphoria larger-than-life.  I could tell by the tone of their voices, the looks on their faces, and the look on my own – we all had the ‘Slipstream feeling’.

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Special thanks to the Slipstream planning committee – Jen, Mark, Aaron, Lizzie, Amy and Julie. And to Mike and Hank for documenting the weekend.

 

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THANKS TO THE SUPPORT OF OUR SPONSORS FOR MAKING SLIPSTREAM 2012 POSSIBLE