Archive for the ‘Sports & Activities’ Category

New Year’s Resolution

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

by Russel Sean Fitness.

RSF calendarThe No. 1 Strategy to Help Keep Your New Year’s Resolution…

Don’t make one! What is so magical about January 1 that you must wait until this day to start your journey?

As humans, we make a lot of unwise and questionable choices when the holiday season comes around. We drink too much, eat too much, make a fool of ourselves at our office parties by dancing on table tops to the latest Justin Bieber song… But that is fine and justifiable, because you have made a New Year’s resolution. As the clock strikes midnight on December 31 (okay… let’s be honest… Maybe after nursing that hangover, let’s call it afternoon of Jan 1) you have made a resolution to get fit, drink less, eat better, and get more sleep. Sound familiar?

Let’s face it, we have all done it, and probably all forgot about them faster than we forgot who came second in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. In one study, 78% of people did not stick to their New Year’s resolutions and a staggering 25% of people actually fell off the wagon by the second week of January!

Here are some things you can try to increase your chances of achieving your goals:

  • Start now! The moment you decide that there needs to be a change in your life, make that change! Don’t wait until the magical day of January 1 to start.
  • Make measurable and achievable goals. Be sure that you can gauge when you are on the right track and when you may need to head in a different direction.
  • Plan for set-backs. Keep in mind that we all occasionally lapse in our resolutions. If we respond to these set-backs with negative emotions, we may be more inclined to give up.
  • Talk about it. Don’t keep your goals a secret. Tell your friends and family; people who will be there to support you. The best-case scenario is to find a pal who shares the same goals.
  • Sacrifice… But not too much. Keep in mind that while you have goals to smash, you also have a life to live. Build your goals accordingly so that you are still able to join your friends for poutine at Blue Canoe, or meet the boys for a pint at O’Hare’s, without feeling like your entire world has come to an end.

Happy Holidays ~ Russel Sean Fitness

Russel Sean Fitness

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

web_RSF_Before_After_Palla_Media_StevestonBefore and After ~ Geoff Bryant

Prior to joining Russel Sean Fitness, the struggle of remaining consistent and making a more physically active and healthful lifestyle more of a priority was definitely a reality for myself. My attitude to staying on top of my health in the past was usually secondary and like many of us we prioritize other people, work, and every other “to do” item which comes ahead of exercise.

I first came to learn about Russel and his fitness services through a fellow member and friend. After hearing about Russel’s fitness concept of intensive group exercise I automatically assumed it would not be for me. I had never participated in group exercise before and had preferred working out in a traditional gym environment. Six months later, I still wasn’t working out and was lacking energy and motivation – I was ready to make a change.

After sending Russel an e-mail, he invited me to come by and try out a class. We spoke about my fitness goals and challenges before and after my first RSF Conditioning class. After taking one class, my interest level was higher in trying out more and seeing if this would be a fit.

The variability, intensity, attentiveness and style of the trainers make Russel Sean Fitness unique and effective.

It is unlikely that most of us will have the self discipline and rigour to execute these types of fitness programs ourselves at a traditional gym. The group atmosphere, the scheduled classes, the constantly changing routines have allowed me to achieve a level of physical fitness that I of all people did not expect.


Justin Thorsteinson

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Justin-Apr2015-Steveston-InInterview with a Steveston Kid:

Justin Thorsteinson just celebrated his 13th birthday. We interviewed him about his favourite sport, baseball. He currently plays on the Richmond Chuckers in 13U Peewee AAA division at first base and pitcher with jersey #33. Justin started playing T-Ball at 6 years old.

What you love about baseball:
I love everything about the game – the hitting, pitching, fielding, the road trips and the atmosphere of playing in the nice weather of spring and summer. I also love it because I get to spend a lot of time with my teammates who have become some of my best friends.

Greatest accomplishment to date:
Last summer in the 13U Peewee AAA Provincial Championships when I pitched in the semi-finals against Abbotsford where the game went extra innings in a hard fought battle.

Highlight from last year:
Being part of a very successful Peewee All Star team than went 12-1 during league play and made it into the Provincial championship tournament. Also the road trip to Gig Harbour in Washington where we made it to the finals against the West Hill Vipers – one of the top ranked teams in the state.

Who inspired you to play baseball:
My dad who was my first coach in T-Ball and still coaches me to this day. He played baseball in Richmond for many years and was also part of a Provincial championship team in 1987 that went on to the Nationals in Quebec.

justin heroFavourite player:
Justin Morneau who is the first baseman of the Colorado Rockies. I wear #33 because it’s his number as well. He grew up in New Westminster and made it to the major leagues. I had the opportunity to meet him 3 years ago at Safeco Field in Seattle before a Mariners game and he was very nice to me. He told me to work hard, have fun and enjoy each day I step on the field to play the game. I had an opportunity to meet him again this spring break when my family and I were in Arizona for the MLB spring training. My dad arranged an afternoon with him where he gave us a tour of the field and I was bat boy for one of the games.

What baseball has taught you:
Baseball has taught me how to be a good teammate and support each other whether you win or lose. It has also taught me patience and how to be a leader. In baseball and other sports, you have to work hard and practice a lot to improve every day.

Goals for this season:
The main goal for our team is to get back to the Peewee AAA Provincial Championship in August. A few other goals are to pitch a “no hitter” during a regular season game, hit a few home runs and to give our team the best chance of winning every time we step on the field. I also want to tryout and make the 13U BC select team this summer.

Goals for the future:
In a few years I would like to represent my country and make the Canadian National Team and in 5 years I’m hoping I will be good enough to be drafted by a major league team.

Russel Sean Fitness

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Russel Sean Favel and I recently sat down to talk after he returned from a week’s vacation.  As the owner and head trainer of Russel Sean Fitness (RSF) he felt a bit restless partaking in some downtime, as he is completely devoted to his business.

The busy fitness facility, which opened in January 2012, offers a variety of workouts. Russel Favel runs the boot camps and personal training while Yasmin Alexandria instructs yoga and Wendy Young and Terri McGinley lead spinning classes. In addition, registered dietitian Carolyn Berry is available for personal nutrition consultations. He is full of ideas and is eager to introduce more classes into the mix.  Anne-Louise Parry of Lulu Family Fitness has recently come on board to assist with body sculpting and indoors mum and baby classes.

Believing that your body is the best fitness tool you have, Russel Favel helps his clients create goals and focus on how to attain them.  Specializing in fat loss and high intensity training, workouts are designed to be fun, challenging, and realistic. He stresses that the gym is a non-competitive environment, and the only person you are competing with is yourself.

Many people look at celebrities and envy their ability to afford a personal trainer to attain their fitness goals. Undeniably working with a personal trainer is one of the most successful ways to improve your health and fitness.  Unlike many gym owners, Russel Favel is determined to make fitness affordable and provides very reasonable rates for all of his programs as he feels “fitness shouldn’t be a financial burden.”

The boot camps are both mentally and physically challenging through full body strengthening exercises, and cardio activities that can be reached by all fitness levels.

Spinning classes will take you on an indoor journey through hills, flats, mountain peaks and sprints. These high-energy sessions are accompanied by motivating music, and Russel Favel promises indoor cycling will leave you “covered in sweat and smiling ear to ear.”

He decided to offer yoga to complement the gym’s high intensity workouts. Classes include a variety of postures with a meditative flow and an emphasis on breathing, alignment and safety. This candlelit class helps you find inner peace.

RSF is housed in the same business park as Cartwheels, The Arts Connection and Renaissance Kids Early Learning Centres.

Multi-tasking Steveston mums in particular take advantage of this convenient location to drop off their children and squeeze in a workout of their own. Russel Favel says his “clients are the best” and he is motivated to help them attain their goals. As much as he receives accolades for inspiring and motivating his clients, he derives satisfaction from what they give back to him.

Erinn Bryan, owner of O’Hare’s GastroPub is a devoted RSF client.  She says, “Russel is a great motivator, very serious about fitness and also a lot of fun. I am addicted to going to RSF. The boot camp workouts are always very challenging and the results are awesome. I’ve met some really amazing people and I’m delighted to have boot camp as part of my work/life balance.” Indeed Russel Favel verifies that the gym is very much a community where people are made to feel welcome and a place where they look forward to catching up with friends.

The Favel family moved to Canada from their homeland of South Africa when Russel Favel was six years old.  After a brief stint in Vancouver they settled in Richmond and have called the area home ever since. Always industrious, from an early age Russel Favel had summer jobs and chuckles when he reveals that his first job was in Grade 9 at Pajo’s cutting potatoes. Not long after graduating from Steveston High he earned his certification to become a personal trainer.  Starting with boot camps and word of mouth marketing, his business began to snowball as friends told their friends. Subsequently, social media has become a great communication tool for RSF devotees.

With his vision and entrepreneurial spirit, Russel Favel (26) is mature beyond his years. He is quick to thank his parents for his work ethic and credits his father Mike Favel for his exemplary commitment to fitness. From the time he was young he recalls seeing his dad run marathons and participate in triathlons and Iron Man competitions.

He points out that his father is his role model. When Russel Favel was in Grade 7 his father’s true “fighter mentality” exhibited itself when he was diagnosed with the first of three bouts of cancer.  Mike Favel has been completely clear of cancer for seven years. Russel Favel says, “seeing someone who was so strong battle cancer for so many years, and being so resilient, taught me and gave me motivation for everything that I do in my life today.”

His mother, Sandra Favel, helps with business decisions, and assists with some of the gym’s administrative work. Russel Favel calls her “his rock.” When problems arise she imparts words of wisdom and offers solutions. He says, “If I am still not able to work it out, then it’s probably just the way it was meant to be. I like to believe I have inherited my mom’s emotional and mental balance, which allows me to keep going, even through those tough times.”

Although Russel Favel has very little free time beyond his business, he continues to enjoy his favourite sport, soccer. He also makes it a priority to spend time with his girlfriend, Michelle Kwieton, his sister and brother in-law, Teri and Justin Wachtel, and his newborn nephew, Hudson. Judging by his commitment and passion for his career and family, he seems to have found the perfect balance.

Another source of inspiration is his uncle, Martin Smith, who formerly owned and ran one of the biggest gyms in Johannesburg.  He was one of the first people to bring the whole “fitness lifestyle” to the gym, with the swimming pool, circuit classes, and aerobics and has provided Russel Favel with many helpful ideas and tips.

Martin Smith is a friend of Jon Jon Park, the CEO and founder of Legacy Gym in Los Angeles. Legacy Gym is named in honour of Jon Jon Park’s father, Reg Park, who was a professional body builder and held the title of Mr. Universe three times. It was Reg Park who inspired Arnold Schwarzenegger to pursue his career in bodybuilding. Jon Jon Park emigrated to L.A. from South Africa to follow in his father’s footsteps, and is now one of city’s top trainers to celebrities and professional athletes.

While Russel Favel has not met Jon Jon Park, he hopes to, “so I can let him know how much of an impact he has had on me. Jon Jon’s pictures and his father’s pictures are one of the first things you see when you walk into RSF gym. I use them as a reminder that hard work and genuinely caring for your clients and what you believe in will get you furthest. It is not about the equipment you have, it’s about you. The equipment doesn’t do the work, you do.”

It is Russel Favel’s authenticity and ability to learn life lessons at such an early age that distinguishes him from some young entrepreneurs who are driven by monetary success. While he is certainly ambitious, his ultimate quest is to help as many people as he can by bringing them happiness and helping them feel good about themselves.

Russel Sean Fitness

Unit 9 – 12491 No. 2 Road

Richmond BC V7E 2G3

Telephone 604-341-4288

Boston Bound Bayers Sisters

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Next month marks an exciting accomplish-ment for Steveston’s Irish dancing sisters Sydney (10) and Olivia (12) Bayers. Last November they both qualified at the Western Canada Regionals in Calgary, and will soon be heading to the 2013 World Irish Dancing Championships in Boston. Remarkably, they only began Irish dancing two years ago with the Nora Pickett Irish Dance Academy in Richmond. 

Olivia Bayers qualified for group dance, and Sydney qualified for both solo and group dance.  In total 14 students from Nora Pickett’s Richmond school qualified (her North Vancouver academy is also sending dancers to the competition). A feather in Nora Pickett’s cap, the Richmond school only began offering group dance in September and is already sending students to the Worlds.

The Worlds takes place March 24 – 31. Competitors come from around the globe to participate in this prestigious event which does not offer prize money, yet provides an incredible sense of accomplishment and prestige to have ranked amongst the best in Irish dance.

Irish dance was popularized in the mid-1990s when American Michael Flatley’s stage show Riverdance became a global sensation. The dance style is recognizable by its rapid leg and foot movements, while maintaining a largely stationary upper body. In addition, the female costume is recognizable by its ornate dresses and long ringlet wigs adorned with tiaras.

This very technical dance style requires a high level of fitness and stamina. The Bayers sisters cross-train at a local gym, and are preparing for the Vancouver Sun Run to increase their endurance. The girls make huge sacrifices such as foregoing social events to get their rest and avoid getting sick. While they normally dance three days a week, they will increase their practices to five days per week leading up to the Worlds. The sisters are very athletic and enjoy many sports. In addition, they play instruments, were previously involved in Brownies and Girl Guides, and they do well at school.

Olivia Bayers attests to the magnetic appeal of Irish dance. “Irish dance is my passion. I love it and it has become a huge part of my life. When I started Irish dancing I wanted to dance all the time. My goal was to get to the championship level quickly because my best friend, Jessie, was at that level when I joined, and I wanted to be in the same classes. That was my biggest motivation. I also begged my mom to take me to all the competitions within driving distance. We’ve been to Portland, Seattle, and Victoria. The more I competed, the more I advanced. ”

While it is an expensive sport with the costumes, wigs and travel involvement, the Bayers sisters are learning great life lessons through dance. Dancing on stage in front of thousands of people builds great confidence.

Competing at this level you learn about determination, hard work and sacrifice, team spirit, sportsmanship, and how to deal with defeat.

Sydney Bayers is a perfect example of such determination. She is nursing a broken foot which happened during a competition in December (where she still managed to place 4th), and she continues to gear up for the Worlds. “Like most Irish dancers, my goal was to qualify for the World Championships; however, I wasn’t expecting to qualify so soon. I am nervous, considering that I have a broken foot and I feel that I won’t be ready to dance my best. Out of all the sports that I have ever done, Irish dance is by far the best. My favourite part is getting up on the big stage and showing the audience what I can do. When I started dancing I wanted to be as good as my friend Jaydn. I practice a lot and dance everywhere from the grocery store to the schoolyard and sidewalks. My mom says that it sounds like the ceiling in our house will come crashing down.”

The girls understand how expensive this sport is and are trying to help with the costs by fundraising through monthly bottle drives, and participating in group fundraisers with other dancers and their families who are attending the Worlds.

What will a day at the Worlds look like for the Bayers sisters? There will be as many as 6,000 competitors in attendance. Nora Pickett Irish Dance Academy will hold practices every day for the ceili (group) and solo dancers. There will be three or four stages running almost all the time with ceili, solo and figure dancing.  Instructors Nora Pickett and Courtney Rose will prepare costume items, last minute touch-ups on hair, warm up the dancers and support them each morning that they compete.  Nerves can run very high at the Worlds and the instructors’ goal is to help the dancers and their parents manage these nerves so that the dancers achieve success, while maintaining the element of fun.

While Olivia Bayers is nervous she summarizes nicely the expectations she and Sydney have as they approach the Worlds. “This will be a great memory, no matter what we place, just as long as my team and I have the time of our lives.”

Richmond City Baseball Association Turns Fifty

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Turning fifty is an impressive milestone, and 2013 is the year Richmond City Baseball Association (RCBA) celebrates its golden anniversary.  The festivities began in 2012 with a newly designed logo and website, with more commemorative surprises and special events to be pulled out of their baseball caps this year.  RCBA, also known as the Chuckers, is named after the feisty Chukar partridge whose image has been incorporated into the newly unveiled logo.

RCBA president Trevor Rennie is an enthusiastic spokesperson for this well-established baseball club. He is brimming with ideas and harbours so much knowledge that one would think he has been on the board for many years, when in fact he became president in September 2011. He gained experience on the field as a volunteer coach when his sons expressed an interest in the sport. They played at various levels from Blastball up to Pee Wee AAA.

Baseball is an attractive sport as it is played in the great outdoors, and it is gentle on the pocketbook.  All that you require is a small financial outlay, a glove and then you will be issued a Chuckers team uniform.  It is possible to get started in baseball at any age and the sport encourages a variety of skill sets between the different positions of pitchers, batters, and fielders.  Speed and power are not required in all roles.

Not only is baseball a terrific team game, but it also provides the highest percentage of scholarship opportunities.  Rennie attributes the increasing popularity of baseball to the success of professional teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners and local B.C. boys Brett Lawrie and Jason Bay who have been drafted and play in their organizations.

The youngest division is Blastball (age 5) followed by T-Ball, Tadpole, Mosquito, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget and Junior Mens (age 24).  The spring season runs April through June, and it is during this time that the majority of the 500 RCBA members take to the fields.  During the summer season (July – August) 200 players continue to swing the bat as high performance rep teams.  During the peak season 40 teams play and require two volunteer coaches per team.  One hundred and fifty children play the sport year round through a combination of fall ball (mainly exhibition games) and training indoors at the Oval and gyms where clinics are held.

During the spring season RCBA plays at ten different Richmond parks. Blundell Park is one of the key fields as it contains two baseball diamonds and has had field upgrades thanks to funding from the City of Richmond and the Federal Government. The association is applying for a matching provincial grant with the goal of one day hosting the Nationals at Blundell Park. In addition they hope to host the 2013 Bantam AAA Western Championships.

It takes many people to coordinate such a large number of players. Rennie is joined by an executive board of 22. In addition, 100 volunteers and 80 volunteer coaches are required to coach, prepare the field, run the concession, act as team managers, schedule games, communicate to the members, and act as announcers.

Coaches must take a major certification program to assume their position. In addition, the RCBA offers technique training from professional coaches, along with player development, to enhance and complement the association’s expertise and resources.

In 2012 RCBA introduced the Rally Cap program at the Blastball level. The program is designed specifically for young baseball players and aims to increase interest in baseball. The Rally Cap Program is one of the outcomes of the Long Term Athlete Development Program developed by Sport Canada and is supported by Baseball BC and Baseball Canada. According to Rennie this program introduces “the fun factor into baseball” by keeping children active and engaged, while learning the skills of the game in a fun, safe and informative atmosphere.

The season opener on April 13 at Brighouse Park promises to be a day of great celebration. The Victoria Day long weekend tournament at Blundell Park will see a return to “old school” equipment with wooden bats replacing aluminum ones. Rennie says the trend is swinging back to the use of wooden bats after many years, and by 2014 classic bats will return to the sport after much debate about the safety of aluminum.

As the RCBA heads into their 50th season Rennie reflects back to 1963 and thanks those who had the foresight to establish baseball in Richmond. “This game continually teaches amazing lifelong lessons to our players, coaches, parents and umpires.  It is not an easy game, but like so many things in life that are hard to achieve, once you learn the game it is extremely rewarding.  There is nothing like the crack of a bat against a ball or seeing a diving catch or a player pitch for the very first time.  The game is timeless and I look forward to seeing the Chuckers continue playing and enjoying this game for the next fifty years.”

Ringette: The Fastest Game on Ice

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

“What exactly is ringette?” is a question often associated with this sport which is sometimes mistaken for a version of girls’ hockey.  Laura Takasaki, a coach with Richmond Ringette, chuckles when asked, and is eager to correct the misconception as she is a great believer in the game that she has played for thirty years.

Like hockey, ringette is an ice sport, however, rather than playing with a hockey stick and a puck, the players use a straight stick and a rubber ring (imagine a 6” hollow blue doughnut). The greatest difference between the two sports is obstruction and interference are prohibited in ringette. In many ways the game shares more in common with basketball, soccer and lacrosse in terms of its offensive and defensive play.
In 1963 Sam Jacks, from North Bay, Ontario (also the inventor of floor hockey), developed ringette as an alternative ice game for girls at a time when hockey was for boys only.  The objective is to score on the opponent by shooting the ring into their net. The challenge lies in skating while catching or “stabbing” the ring. Physical contact is not allowed.  Once stabbed, the ring is easier to control than a puck, but ringette’s blue-line rules force more passing. As a result, players learn teamwork rather than depending on one or two dominant players. The absence of ring handling allows players to focus on improving their skating, which increases the tempo of the game, and has earned ringette the bragging rights of being ‘the fastest game on ice’. 

Most games last approximately one hour. As the pace is very fast, players get plenty of ice time. Six players from each team are allowed on the ice at one time; one goalie, two defense, two forwards, and one centre. The players wear full protective equipment including a distinctive face mask, a jersey and long pants. The goalie uses regular goal catcher’s equipment; however, some goalies use a unique catching glove.

Ringette is played throughout Canada at many different levels, from house league to all-stars and in national and international competition. In Canada, 50,000 athletes, coaches, and officials call ringette their sport. Takasaki is proud to report that there are a couple of Richmond players on the B.C. Thunder National Ringette team.

This sport builds strong, fit and confident girls, yet even though the game is not limited to females, the membership is still largely female. Involvement in sports teaches valuable life lessons such as commitment, time-management, goal-setting, teamwork and respect.  Ringette devotees also list the friendships they form as one of the top reasons they love being involved in the sport. Children can begin playing as young as five years old, and the beauty is you don’t even need to know how to skate, you can learn as you go!

Ringette is also gentle on the pocketbook. Startup costs are approximately $100 and rental equipment is available for players for the first year.  After that time, when you become hooked on ringette, as Takasaki says you will, you can purchase your own gear. 

Ringette’s age divisions include U9 (Bunnies) ages 4-7, U10 (Novice) ages 7-9, U12 (Petite) ages 10-11, U14 (Tween) ages 12-13, U16 (Junior) ages 14-15, U19 (Belle) ages 16-18,  Open 18 years+ and Masters 30 years+.

Takasaki’s household is a busy one. In addition to running the locally based event planning company, Imagine That Events, with her business partner, Sharon Liew, Takasaki’s entire family lives and breathes Richmond Ringette.  Laura Takasaki continues to play on Richmond Ringette’s Open team, and she coaches Richmond Ringette’s Bunnies division.  Her daughters Tayah (12) and Hailey (13) assist as junior coaches with the Bunnies.   Like their mother, they were both very young when they started playing ringette, and they continue to play, along with a core group of friends who also started playing as Bunnies.  Not to be left out, Laura’s husband Troy coaches the U14 team and the Open team.

The time commitment to Richmond Ringette depends on your division.  Younger players generally practice 1-2 times per week while higher levels practice 2-3 times per week.  Richmond Ringette’s home base is the Richmond Ice Centre. The season runs from September to March. Registration closes December 15th. Regular season games for U10 and up begin October 1st. The U9 season begins December 1st in order to have an opportunity to learn and practice the game. In January tournaments are played against other ringette teams across Metro Vancouver.

Ringette is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. There are opportunities to come out and watch the fastest game on ice and register to play this season. Who knows, maybe 30 years from now your daughter will be living and breathing ringette like Laura Takasaki and her family.

Richmond Ringette

Who Doesn’t Love a Treasure Hunt?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Living in Steveston Village brings great joy with the endless array of wonderful parks, playgrounds, bike trails, walking trails, beaches, shops, parades, markets and community programs, yet there may come a point where you are looking for something new. Perhaps you have taken your kids to every nearby park dozens of times, or walked your dog down every path in town, or visited every coffee shop so often that you know each menu off by heart.  If you are looking for something new to try locally then I recommend geocaching!

We discovered geocaching by accident. My kids were clambering about the bird-watching tower on the Steveston boardwalk, when one of them emerged from a hidey-hole with a plastic container. “Congratulations!” read a note on the inside of the container lid “You have found a geocache.” The note instructed us to open the container, sign the log book inside, and help ourselves to one of the treasures within – but only if we left a treasure of our own as a replacement. The note also included a request that we return the geocache to the exact spot we found it, so that other hunters could find it as well. It also shared a website – – which is where we learnt all about what was to become our new favourite family pastime.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt. Players hide caches around the globe, then post the GPS coordinates on the geocaching website so others can find the caches. Many geocaches are boxes which contain log books and treasures; others are small magnetic keyholders or film canisters, which are only big enough for a small roll of paper for the finders to sign. Some geocaches contain trackable items, whose journeys around the globe are mapped on the geocaching website. Caches can be anywhere, in hollow trees, under bridges, inside pipes, on mountains, on beaches, in forests, on busy streets – wherever someone can think to hide them. There are even caches underwater, where only scuba divers can reach them.  One of the trickiest geocaches we have ever found was disguised as an electrical box under a bridge. It didn’t help that it was placed next to a phenomenal frog-filled pond, which distracted my children to such an extreme that we’re lucky we ever got them out of the pond and home at the end of the day.

As of last count, there are almost 1.8 million geocaches hidden around the world, and over five million geocachers out there, hiding and seeking. Most geocaches are pretty straightforward, but some are extremely creative. There’s a geocache on Granville Island that requires you to visit six different points on the island and piece together clues at each stage in order to get to the next one. There are geocaches that require you to team up with geocachers in up to five other countries in order to amass enough clues to find the geocache hidden in your neighbourhood. Richmond is home to a five-stage cache, Captain Midnight’s Cipher, which will have you decoding clues around the entire city before finally getting to the final cache.

Steveston is a geocaching hotspot, with 18 caches hidden between London Heritage Farm and Garry Point. There are dozens more along the dyke heading both north and east from the village. Once you’ve found all the local caches, there are more caches in Richmond and hundreds scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. Every geocaching trip is a great excuse to discover a new park, playground or hiking route. It’s also a way to reconnect with old, familiar places. Finding the cache often plays a minor role to the journey itself, and the time spent discovering a new site. You never look at a park the same way once you know that there is a hidden secret in it.

One geocaching practice my family always adheres to is that of “Cache In, Trash Out”. This is a popular way to enrich the standard geocache adventure. We bring garbage bags with us, and clean up the terrain as we go along. Many long hikes are dotted with two or three caches, and as we hike, we pick up wrappers and pop cans and any other garbage we can find. The family member who clears the most trash as we reach the caches gets to pick their prize first. Another way we enhance the geocaching experience is by teaching our kids how to use a proper compass, and having them use the coordinates listed on the website to find the cache without the use of a GPS.

Geocaching is becoming progressively more popular. Scout troops now have geocaching badges, the Steveston Community Centre has held pre-teen geocaching events, and it seems that more and more people are in the know. On a busy day along the Steveston boardwalk, it is not uncommon to see visitors glued to their GPS trackers, walking slowly up and down near a geocache site, and glancing furtively around to determine the best time to remove the cache without alerting the ‘muggles’, or non-players, to where the cache is. Steveston geocachers are particularly thoughtful with their hides, and often take the opportunity to write about the rich history of the village when posting their hides on the website. 

We’ve only found a fraction of the geocaches out there, but we keep finding more every time we head out as a family. Some of our favourites include Walk the Plank – right here in Steveston, and The Troll Under the Bridge, near Grandma’s house on Vancouver Island. We’ve found geocaches on family trips to Italy and France, and camping trips around BC. This summer we hope to finally tackle the four caches hidden on Shady Island, right across from the Steveston waterfront. We’ve been investigating the land bridge and figuring out the tides, and hope to find all four caches in a single trip. But the idea of being trapped on the little island overnight is a little unnerving for some members of our family. Luckily we have a friend with a canoe on standby for the big rescue if necessary. It is just another Steveston adventure waiting to happen.

Zoë Lee lives in Steveston with her husband, their three children and three cats.  They moved here seven years ago for the stroller friendly, pancake-flat terrain, and stayed for the parades. She has an MBA with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Change Management, which is the ideal degree for any stay-at-home mom.

Kigoos Swim Club

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Years back, when we had first moved to Steveston, we were taking a family stroll home from Steveston Park. As we walked behind the community centre, we found that our normally peaceful path was transformed into a chaotic shantytown of unimaginable proportions. Hundreds of tents and canopies lined the pathway and commandeered all available green space. These campsites were strewn with towels, sleeping bags, air mattresses, board games, back packs, coolers and picnic baskets. Adults were sleeping on camp chairs, or cooking up meals on portable stoves, while children ran about in wild packs, playing tag and Frisbee, or diving in and out of tents. We stopped by one campsite to find out more. Was this an Occupy-Steveston protest?  Were they all waiting in line for the newest and best preschool? The answer we got in return amazed us. This was a swim meet. These were the Kigoos.

I have never been a swimmer myself, but the idea of a swim club intrigued me. My kids loved the water, but taking three small children swimming was a nightmare. Here was a club that would teach them how to swim, and best of all – it was just around the corner from our house!

So we signed up, and it has been the best part of our year for the last five years. From the beginning of May until the August long weekend, we have almost daily practices at Steveston Pool.  In June and July we have weekend swim meets at various pools around the Lower Mainland. I have become part of the shantytown and I absolutely love it. My children spend all weekend running around in the sun with their friends, and jumping into the pool when it is time for their races. I spend my weekends chatting with the parents, helping out with the swim meets, and trying to pin my kids down long enough to feed them between races. Years ago, I would have said that nothing could be more painful than getting up at 5:30am to get to a practice or a meet. Now I know that there is something worse: sleeping in and missing it all. 

The Kigoos not only taught my kids to swim, but to swim fast. They taught my kids to work hard and to train until they are exhausted, that practices in the rain are more fun than practices in the sunshine, and that coming to school with your hair still damp from a 6am practice is a badge of honour.  They also taught my kids that the Kigoos are a way of life, not just a swim club. Every year the Kigoos hold a club triathlon, go up the Grouse Grind, host beach days, movie nights, pasta nights and pub nights and more. Most of this is driven by the inspirational coaches hired every year. These coaches manage to put in early mornings, late nights, and entire weekends, and yet still have the energy to go to their own practices and race in the meets as well. They are the teenagers and young adults that I want my children to become.

The entire family becomes part of the club.  Siblings too young to join are placed in the Tater Tot group, and receive starter lessons from aspiring coaches. It is not an uncommon sight to see upwards of four volunteer coaches per Tater Tot during these sessions.  All parents are invited to swim in the Master’s group, and can even be found filling out relay teams during the meets. Parents also run the swim meets and spend hours marshalling kids, timing races, running the electronics booth and working in the concession.
Throughout the fall, winter and spring my kids all play different sports, take art classes, and play instruments, but no activity or club has caught their hearts like the Kigoos. The magic of Kigoos is that it happens so fast. It becomes your life during those few short months of sunshine and summer. While it is happening there is nothing else your kids want to do, nowhere else your kids want to be than at Steveston Pool, rain or shine, morning or night. And then suddenly – it’s over. The pool is closed for the winter; the coaches have headed back to university; and the kids are back to school and starting their winter sports. It’s like Kigoos never happened. But it did. And it will happen again if you can just make it through the dreary grey winter until the sun comes out again on May 1st.

Registration is currently on for summer 2012.

by Zoe Lee, photos by Bob Frid

2012 Minor Hockey Week in BC

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

BC Hockey is excited to announce that the annual Minor Hockey Week in BC is underway and will run from January 16 – 22, 2012.  There are a number of exciting contests and events that will be held throughout the week through BC Hockey to celebrate minor hockey in our province.

A new component to Minor Hockey Week in BC will be Twitter and Facebook contests.  All minor hockey players are encouraged to tweet to BC Hockey or post to the BC Hockey Facebook account their answers to the following questions:

Twitter: What is your most memorable moment in minor hockey?

Facebook: BC Hockey is excited to offer the following programs during Minor Hockey Week: Stand on Guard, Penalty Free Challenge, Team First Challenge.  What is your favourite contest/event and why?

The contests will run throughout the week and winners of each contest will be announced on January 24, 2012.  You can follow BC Hockey on Twitter at @BCHockey_Source or follow us on Facebook.

 Other events/programs that the 2012 Minor Hockey Week in BC will feature include:

Penalty Free Challenge Teams who are penalty free for an entire game must submit a completed entry form along with the game sheet to BC Hockey.  Teams will receive gifts from BC Hockey, and a grand prize will be given to a randomly selected team. For more information on the Penalty Free Challenge please click here.
Stand-on-Guard with the Vancouver Canucks The 10 winners were selected for the Stand-On-Guard contest and will be attending the Vancouver Canucks game on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 when they take on the LA Kings.  The winners were selected through the Canucks Centre for BC Hockey.  For more information on the Stand-On-Guard contest click here.
Team First Challenge The Team First Challenge is a partnership between BC Hockey, the Vancouver Canucks and Hockey Canada and is an initiative to expose Minor Hockey teams to the Fair Play Codes for players, team staff, parents and officials. Any BC Hockey minor team that is willing to read the fair play codes and make this commitment can sign the signature page and submit it to the BC Hockey office to receive a prize. The first 50 teams who enter are eligible to win.  For more information about the Team First Challenge click here.

For more information about BC Hockey, please visit the BC Hockey website at or contact or 250.652.2978.