Programming Connection

Weekend Wellness Retreats 

Positive Women's Network (PWN)
British Columbia

Required Resources

Human resources

Four women staff the retreat for the duration of the weekend: one retreat coordinator, two PWN support workers and one retreat nurse. A PWN practicum student may also come on the retreat as a volunteer.

Key characteristics of all staff members and professional facilitators that contribute to program success include:

  • Comfortable communicating with a diverse group of women
  • Sensitive and non-judgmental in their approach to all participants
  • Relaxed and informal, allowing women to participate in the retreat as they wish
  • Able to balance connecting with women and allowing them to interact with each other
  • Demonstrated awareness of issues of poverty, violence against women, drug and alcohol use and mental health issues
  • Knowledge and experience with HIV/AIDS

Retreat Coordinator and Support Workers

The role of the retreat coordinator is to plan, organize and coordinate retreats for women living with HIV/AIDS from across the province. This person oversees the entire event.   

The role of the support worker at the retreat is to provide support, advocacy, information and referral services to retreat participants. The support worker assists the retreat coordinator in a variety of ways, depending on what needs to be done.   

Key characteristics of both the retreat coordinator and support worker include (aside from those listed above):

  • Ability to work with a diverse team
  • Experience working within women’s organizations and services
  • Experience planning special events
  • Flexible working style
  • Driver’s license and car an asset

In addition, the retreat coordinator should have:

  • Excellent organizational, multitasking and facilitation skills
  • Familiarity with other community resources and organizations

In addition, the support workers should have:

  • Strong group facilitation skills
  • Ability to provide lay counselling

Retreat Nurse

A nurse who is familiar with the medical needs of HIV-positive women is required on-site for the entire event. This person administers prescription and non-prescription medication as well as nutritional supplements as needed. She also treats minor ailments and provides health education, reassurance and emotional support.                 

Material resources

  • Promotional pamphlets and flyers
  • Registration materials (forms, information sheets, etc.)
  • Professional facilitator contracts
  • First aid kit
  • Supplies for workshops and activities

Financial resources

The costs for printed materials are almost negligible. The expense of one retreat, however, has ranged from $14,000 to $16,000, not including the salaries of the retreat coordinator and support workers. This amount could be more or less, depending on the number of participants, their transportation requirements, the location of the retreat, etc. 

The main costs associated with a retreat are related to:  

  • Food and snacks, including meal supplements
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Childcare subsidies
  • Supplies for first aid and crafts
  • Honoraria for volunteers and facilitators, including retreat nurse