Adventure Retreat weekends are held in the fall, winter and early summer at various outdoor education and retreat centers in New England. Participants engage physically, emotionally and creatively in adventure-based activities.
What are Adventure-Based Activities?
We introduce a group of women to an outdoor environment, that is new to them. Together we try different activities which pose some physical and emotional challenges to each woman and also to the group as a whole.
The opportunity to participate in an adventure-based retreat with other breast cancer survivors provides the tools to develop new behaviors and coping mechanisms as well as a social network of support. Our adventure activities, utilizing certified outdoor educators and instructors, may include:
Adventure Weekend History
Adventure Weekend was the idea of one woman, who shared it with another and from there it was born. It’s a kind of love letter, Betty Borry crafted in 1995 and sent out to every woman with breast cancer---an invitation to come together. A letter a mother might send to her daughter; a sister to her sister; or friend to best friend. The kind of letter only someone who really gets you could write. She knows your quirks and doesn’t judge. She makes you laugh, and over the miles manages to give you the best hug ever. A letter that finishes, “It’s okay, you can do it. We can do it.”
Betty was an assistant principal at a New Hampshire middle school, and an avid outdoorswoman. A loyal Eastern Mountain Sports customer, for years she sought the advice of Ellen Moran, then-manager of the Peterborough store. The women talked kayaks, snowshoes, packs, hiking boots. Betty asked lots of questions, and sought Ellen’s help in deciding what kayak to buy or what trail to explore.
One day in the mid-1990’s Betty asked Ellen for a different kind of help. In the midst of a cancer recurrence, Betty yearned for a support group that focused on living, doing, having fun in the great outdoors. Would Ellen help her create an Outward Bound-type program for breast cancer survivors? Ellen accepted the challenge in large part because she also knows the healing powers of the outdoors. She understood what Betty wanted and why. Ellen said, “Yes.”
Paddling her kayak on a nearby lake was Betty’s ultimate place of sanctuary. She felt alert, alive, content. Betty wanted to share this feeling with other women who’d been told, “You have breast cancer.” Her dream was to help these women connect with each other, share stories and participate in outdoor challenges to help them better deal with all the stress and changes in their lives. Betty understood the restorative powers of nature and knew she and other women with breast cancer could benefit physically, mentally and spiritually from such a program.
With support from the American Cancer Society and Eastern Mountain Sports, Betty and Ellen launched Adventure Weekend in 1995. Over 400 women attended Adventure Weekend from 1995 through 2010. At the end of 2010, The American Cancer Society made the difficult decision to withdraw its funding support. Adventure Weekend did continued on by the women who were hand-picked by Betty to keep the program going. Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats is now home to Adventure Weekend and Adventure Retreats, all of which get women outdoors to play, explore, learn and grow with other women who share the journey beyond breast cancer.
Betty J Borry Breast Cancer Retreats' History
Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats is the umbrella nonprofit organization-- home of the BJB Breast Cancer Retreats and Adventure Weekend. BJBBCR was established in 2002 as a 501(c)(3).
Adventure Weekend in Betty’s eyes was the “beginning of the journey” for women of all ages and stages of breast cancer. Cynthia Cote, still in treatment for breast cancer, had found overwhelming understanding, support and strength when she attended the very first Adventure Weekend in 1995. "Adventure Weekend taught me about support. We were all in different places-- some of us still in treatment, some just diagnosed and others who had been diagnosed and out of treatment for five to 10 years. Different places, but we all understood each other.”
In 2002, Cynthia Cote, with the founding Board members, envisioned the “continuation of the journey" and created Betty J Borry Breast Cancer Retreats, serving as President and Executive Director until her retirement in 2021. Since 1995, Cynthia has returned each year to welcome and support the hundreds of women who have attended Adventure Weekend and the Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats.
We welcome women of all ages and stages of breast cancer to join us to:
- connect with other women who share the same journey
- challenge yourself physically and emotionally
- find understanding and support
- empower yourself to discover your own strengths
Together, women living after breast cancer can move from "surviving" to "thriving"!