On August 4th Toastmasters from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Finland came together in Stameriena, Latvia to enjoy sunshine, games and workshops at the Baltic Toastmasters Retreat 2018 (#BTR2018).
The participants were told from the get-go that all the scheduled activities are optional and if they wanted to play ball games or go for a swim in the lake – they would be free to do so. This created an open and relaxed atmosphere, where everyone enjoyed themselves to the fullest. Throughout the whole day people played football and water balloon volleyball, went swimming and rowing, as well as, played board games and socialised.
Saturday morning the group bonded together with introductory games. By performing tasks blindfolded, the group learned to trust each other, communicate and understand each other. This helped them socialise throughout the rest of the retreat and make new friends.
After that the participants had a chance to face their fears with a “table topics at height” workshop. People needed to walk a slackline suspended 6m in the air, while trying to give a table topics speech. Some started with great confidence, some had shaking knees, but in the end everyone managed to face their fears and give their speech.
“I was incredibly scared at first”, said one of the participants “but then step-by-step I went out there and spoke. The exercise has really boosted my courage!”
The evening was spent bonding as a group, either performing an “escape from prison” exercise or playing sports together or sharing conversations in the sauna.
By the time night fell and people gathered around the campfire, it felt like everyone is much more friendly and the initial shyness is completely gone.
Around the campfire people told ghost stories to unnerve each other. Standing in front of everyone and sharing a chilling personal experience is scary. Everyone showed some vulnerability, but the other members were so encouraging that every story teller felt accepted and welcomed.
After a good night of sleep, the participants woke up for a morning exercise session. Some were sweating, some were out of breath, but in the end everyone was enjoyably tired.
Midday on Sunday it was time to say “goodbye”, but the relationships and emotions that the participants gained in those 24 hours will stay with them. Some made new friends, some learned new things about themselves, while others simply enjoyed the sunshine and got a nice tan.
Overall, those who participated in the retreat went home with excellent memories and great emotions. People did not want to leave and were saddened that the retreat was over. Nevertheless, in the cars back home everyone was already plotting #BTR2019.
Author: Davis Golds, Riga Toastmasters