Registration open now for free ‘Healing Adventure’

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Survivor’s Outdoor Experience is taking registrations now for the eighth edition of the Healing Adventure, a retreat for those who have been diagnosed with cancer and a companion of the person’s choice, May 17-19.

The program will be at Olympic NatureBridge campus at 111 Barnes Point Road on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park.

Jack Ganster, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Survivor’s Outdoor Experience and a mountaineer, founded the weekend after surviving brain cancer. He was diagnosed 14 years ago.

The retreat is free, but space is limited.

To reserve space — or for more information — go to www.survivorsoutdoor or contact Ganster at 360-477-1619 or

The annual retreat draws people from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties as well as from farther away. Some Californians will join the retreat this year, Ganster said.

“This program will bring a small group of participants together in a remarkable setting to enjoy a weekend that will be one to remember,” Ganster said.

“The retreat features fascinating presentations, indoor and outdoor activities, good food and most of all, good times and memories.”

The goal, he said, “is to assist participants in gaining strength, hope, and a sense of the future.”

Presentations and activities include:

• Who is a Survivor by Ganster.

• Healing in Harmony with Teri Applegate.

• From Surviving to Thriving by Dr. Heath Foxlee.

• Healthy Cooking with Julie Jacobson.

• The Companion’s Story with Mikel Townsley.

• Exercise is Good Medicine.

• Relating to Nature.

• Hiking and Canoeing with NatureBridge staff.

“Being surrounded by this peaceful setting makes it easy for body and mind to unwind and relax. You just show up to be nurtured with great food and compassionate company,” Applegate said.

This year, Survivor’s Outdoor Experience is expanding into Ganster’s home town of Pittsburgh, Pa., with a “satellite” offering at Eden Hall at Chatham University from June 28-30.

The nonprofit is based on the belief that a person becomes a survivor at the moment of diagnosis.

“You do not need a certain time period to elapse, nor do you need wait for test results to become a ‘survivor,’ ” Ganster says on his website.

“It is natural to consider yourself a ‘victim’ at first, but you need to look at it this way … being a ‘victim’ is a state of body and being a ‘survivor’ is a state of mind.”

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