Between September 6th and December 13th, Monica Hofer taught thirteen Intermediate African Hand Drumming classes at Errington Hall. Many of the eighteen people who comprise the Intermediate class have been part of this drum circle for four or five years, and the group is quite advanced. Each week, they energetically explore complex rhythms together.
Following the African Hand Drumming class, Monica teaches a half-hour dun class, which is open to those who take her Intermediate Drumming class. Dun is a type of African bass drum played with drum sticks. Nine dun sessions were offered this fall. Fewer dun sessions were offered because most of the drummers were travelling for the first month of classes. As the dun class is smaller, absences can have a large impact on the class. Throughout the fall, a few late registrants joined the class. By the time the classes wrapped up in December, the dun class was full with eight participants.
Because of snow, the November 29th drumming class had to be cancelled. It took the recreation coordinators some time to sort out snow credits and refunds.
This is the first time a beginner-level class has been offered this year due to a lack of instructor. Sarah Gibson, a member of the Intermediate Class, taught ten classes. Seven students received an introduction to the djembe drumming and learned how to play some simple rhythms. Unfortunately, Sarah will not be able to instruct in the winter because she is no longer available on Tuesday evenings.
Recreation Coordinators Kristine Stephenson and Keenan Bevan were invited to attend a community forum about the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s next set of strategic goals. The three-hour workshop held on October 5th was designed to capture helpful insights from library users. Discussion topics included key values, improvement ideas, and feedback on current services.
The recreation coordinators expressed appreciation for many of the library’s outreach programs and online resources. It can be difficult for residents of Area F to access the physical branches of the library, making online opportunities especially wonderful for rural residents.
In the first week of October, ACRA’s youth basketball programs returned to the Coombs Fairgrounds Gymnasium. The Tuesday-night sessions have lower attendance numbers, so the decision was made to welcome drop-ins. The hope was that a more flexible registration style would allow more families to fit the program into their schedule. Ultimately, registration numbers doubled from five participants to ten over the course of the season
Thursday-night 16+ basketball continues to be one of ACRA’s most popular programs. Volunteer facilitator Michael Briones works hard each week to ensure that each of the players has opportunities to participate and that the play is fair. Most weeks this program is full with twenty people.
In total, nine sessions were offered in the fall. The November 24th session had to be cancelled because of a heavy snowfall earlier in the week.
The first week of October is Active Aging Week. This year’s event was six days long, and forty-two activities were offered by twenty different host organizations throughout Oceanside. ACRA hosted a special Sole Sisters Walk at Little Qualicum Falls. In total, twenty-six walkers attended this walk, two of whom were new people who heard about Sole Sisters because of Active Aging Week.
Usually marimba is offered throughout the summer, but this fall Instructor Peter Kurelja happened to be in the area for a university work term. Many of the families who access the August camp were excited to sign up for a six-week program. Youth marimba was open to children ages seven to thirteen, and ten students signed up.
Peter Kurelja also taught a series of six beginner adult marimba classes. There were eight people in this class, and the adults enjoyed exploring simple melodies. Unfortunately, the final day of classes had to be cancelled because of snow.
The four women who comprise the Beyond Beginner Adult Marimba class continue to have rehearsals every second week at the Bradley Centre. This fall, they enjoyed seven music-making afternoons.
Initially, two workshops with Peter Kurelja had also been scheduled, but one was cancelled for snow and the other was cancelled because of sickness. Because Peter returned to university in Victoria in early January, it was not possible to reschedule the workshops.
Between October and December, the Sole Sisters went on ten walks. On average, the group includes twenty-six walkers. Throughout the walking season, the group adventured through the Whimsical Forest in Qualicum, the Boulder City Trails in Errington, the Parksville Estuary, and the Deep Bay Marina to name a few highlights. Only one walk on November 30th had to be cancelled due to icy conditions.
Following the final walk of the season, the Sole Sisters met at BoMé Cheese for a warm beverage and cake by donation. The walkers had the options of hot apple cider, tea, coffee, carrot cake, or lemon cheesecake. In total thirty people attended. Because Sole Sisters is such a long-running program, many friendships have formed between the walkers, and it is always heartwarming to see the group gather for some social time. The money raised at this event goes towards keeping ACRA’s youth programs affordable and subsidizing the cost of programs for families who need financial assistance.
In preparation for the Coombs Candy Walk, the recreation coordinators asked 4-H if they would be interested in crafting some simple decorations for the event. 4-H was on hiatus at the time, but they extended an invitation to host a craft station at their Open House BBQ. Recreation Coordinator Kristine Stephenson brought two simple crafts: construction paper butterflies and paper bag ghosts. Several children stopped by the booth to do some crafting, and their decorations were displayed at the Candy Walk.
On October 27th, the recreation coordinators were excited to visit Storybook Village in costume for this festive preschool event. ACRA always brings a small craft, and this year was the timeless tissue paper ghosts. The recreation coordinators had a busy evening of crafting as there were approximately 250 people in attendance. Families enjoyed free hot dogs, hot apple cider, and a wide range of activities provided by OBLT and the community partners.
On October 31st, the 52ndannual Coombs Candy Walk was held at the Coombs Fairgrounds. This was the first indoor event since 2019, and the theme was “When the Toy Box Comes Alive.” Each room in the Candy Walk interpreted the theme in a slightly different way and exhibits included famous toys, teddy bear picnic, farmyard, Lite-Brite and toy cars. Estimated total attendance was 650, which is consistent with past numbers.
Over the past few years, there have been some community concerns about the firework, so this year, the committee decided to explore some alterative entertainment options. Mezzi Rising, a professional hoola hooper mesmerized youngsters and adults alike with her hoola hooping light show. Children’s musician Ian Johnstone captivated an audience of small ghosts and ghouls in the Arrowsmith Hall. The committee felt that live entertainment was just as delightful as fireworks, and the parking lot crew mentioned that traffic was much easier to manage without the 8:00pm fireworks rush.
This event requires a tremendous volunteer effort because to decorate the Chicken Barn; manage the exhibits; and staff the parking lot, concession, and haunted house. It truly takes a community to coordinate this event. Coombs Old Country Market donated the food for the concession. Mid-Island Co-op sent volunteers to assist with decorations. Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department managed the concession. Arrowsmith Agricultural Association donated the use of the grounds and built an impressive photo booth. Ballenas Dry Grad organized the Haunted House. Silver Meadows Farm donated the pumpkins. And many, many, many community volunteers shared their time. Special thanks go to the Jennah Stavroff for being such a vital piece of the planning committee.
On Friday afternoons at the Coombs Fairgrounds, Recreation Coordinator Keenan Bevan instructed the second installment of ACRA’s Preschool Play (ages 3-5) and Child’s Play gym (ages 6-10) programs. Youth leader Caelyn Corcione assisted, and the group delighted in an assortment of gym games, sing-a-longs, dances, and skill-building activities. Each class can accommodate twelve people, and ten children signed up for younger class and eleven joined the older class.
Six dates were scheduled, but the final class on December 23rd needed to be cancelled because of snowfall, and one Child’s Play session was cancelled because of low attendance.
Jenn Hopewell from RDN organized a fabulous forum on November 23rd at Bradley Centre. Twenty-two people from a variety of community organizations that serve seniors in the Oceanside area gathered for the second time to network and learn about grant writing. The panel of speakers had some great insights to share, and even though Recreation Coordinator Kristine Stephenson walked into the event feeling comfortable with grant applications, she left the Bradley Centre feeling enlightened and inspired to explore more funding opportunities.
With support from their community partners, Oceanside Building Learning Together (OBLT) offers a free preschool program on select Saturdays throughout the year. On December 17th the recreation coordinators headed to Munchkinland to help prepare a nutritious breakfast of waffles, maple sausage, hard boiled eggs, yogurt and fruit. In total, eight families attended to enjoy a complimentary breakfast and some unstructured play with new friends
The recreation coordinators attended many community meetings including:
Additionally, one planning meeting was held for Family Day 2023.
The recreation coordinators are responsible for maintaining the ACRA website and events calendar, Facebook page, and Instagram account as well as promotion for programs. The recreation coordinators receive and reply to phone calls and emails regularly and manage all of the registration for programs independently.
ACRA manages a community lending cupboard where other non-profit organizations and hobbyist groups can borrow equipment on a by-donation basis. This fall a number of local groups accessed equipment in the Cupboard.
Allison Shaw borrowed the ukuleles and a band-in-a-box for the children’s music programs at Errington War Memorial Hall. The programs started in October and will continue into Winter 2023.
The Arrowsmith Naturalists borrowed the parking equipment for the Mushroom Festival at the Coombs Fairgrounds on October 23rd.
The Arrowsmith Agricultural Association borrowed parking equipment and one tent for the Christmas Craft Fair on December 3rd and 4th.
ACRA did not apply for any grants in this period. However, Recreation Coordinator Kristine Stephenson did provide two letters of support. Both letters of support were for the Errington War Memorial Hall Society.
The first letter expressed excitement for the new children’s music classes at Errington Hall and was submitted to the RDN Grant Committee.
The second letter of support was for a New Horizons grant. Errington Hall’s proposed program “Have Music, Will Travel” hopes to provide vulnerable seniors with a passion for music with free transportation and concert tickets.