‘Let’s Get Away Together’ Zoom Travel Series Offers Community, Learning, and Adventure
May 13, 2021
It’s not too late to register for Let’s Get Away Together, our popular Zoom travel series offered in collaboration with therapeutic activity experts The Hummingbird Project. New sessions, which are aimed at family caregivers and those who receive their care, run through June 2021 and participation is free. View our schedule and register to join our next online travel adventure!
Here, Hummingbird Project Manager Meredith Eden and Director Kari Rogenski talk about what keeps participants coming back to this magical online experience.
How did the idea for the Let’s Get Away Together series originate?
In the midst of the panic of the pandemic, we really tuned into the depth of this crisis—not only for our clients and loved ones, but also for family caregivers. We wondered what we could do to re-envision what it means to combat isolation and loneliness within the context of sheltering in place.
The idea was to use travel and connection over Zoom to recreate the ability for people to escape what was happening in our world. FCA reached out to us and we were thrilled for the opportunity to collaborate with them in the creation of these series to serve our community.
How has the series evolved?
In the beginning, it was meant as an accessible, therapeutic approach to combat isolation, offer lifelong learning, model compassionate listening, guide meaningful conversations, and to support community.
Over time, we evolved the series based how each session went, participant feedback (which we encourage), who comes to groups, and how best to present the material. After every series, we meet to talk about new topics, destinations, ideas, and inspiration.
A year later, we think of ourselves like a travel community going on adventures together.
With the world re-opening, people worried we would stop offering these gatherings. But it’s been so successful, and so many of our participants have grown so fond of their virtual travel adventures. So, we assured people, no, we’re not going anywhere.
What makes the Let’s Get Away Together series so special?
What really stands out is the community we’ve created in the virtual space. It’s all about connection; allowing people to feel together when they’re apart. It’s become a silver lining to the pandemic.
We both have a background in drama therapy, so in everything we do, we create a journey. We enhance creativity, so it doesn’t feel like a travel log someone tunes in and spaces out to. And, because we have so much experience in aging and memory loss, we have a thumb on how to make the series an interactive, meaningful experience.
The Let’s Get Away Together series is stimulating but doesn’t feel overwhelming. There’s travel-related intellectual material, creative content, music, and movement. We’re not just a group of people listening to a host, we’re a group of people discussing a topic. And, with so many opportunities to share and participate, it serves a diverse set of needs while being fulfilling and enjoyable.
Who leads the series? How do you select session leaders?
Our program hosts talk about topics they know, so there’s a personal connection to the material. We also play to their expertise, so if we’re including music, we bring in Katrina who is a musician. Samantha has traveled extensively and has a therapeutic background, and Alicia is a museum and art appreciation expert. Week to week we’ll have different hosts and a different focus, so it keeps the presentations really eclectic and fun.
What is a session experience like?
We start the groups with cameras on, then allow people to go on mute or off video if they prefer. Hosts remain on video or we might screen share material that acts as a visual aid for the group. If we have a live musician, they would be on full view.
We encourage people to come off mute and share, and some feel more comfortable sharing in the chat. Sometimes, material from the chat is brought into the verbal presentation to make it as interactive and accessible as possible.
There are so many ways to engage in this shared space and it’s a very non-judgmental environment. We allow people to come as they are and be who they want to be and feel safe with facilitators who will make the experience fun and joyful.
What are some of the reactions you observe from participants?
In a recent session, we hosted armchair travel to Ireland, so we had Katrina playing traditional Irish music on violin. We have a lot of participants who are non-verbal, and we could see them dancing along in their chairs, while some jumped up to their feet to dance along.
It was so great to see other participants watching them dance, and the smiles on their faces; seeing them come to life.
Which themes resonate most with participants?
People want to go to tropical or exotic locations, places they haven’t been. Hawaii and the national parks are popular. We’ve also seen that participants enjoy sessions that focus on special topics like art appreciation or music within the travel context.
What’s next for the Let’s Get Away Together series? Where are you taking participants over the next few months?
In the past we have focused on travel to faraway destinations, but lately we’re playing with travel adventures in our own backyard. We have a great session coming up focused on Sacramento, with interesting facts our capitol right here in California. We also have sessions traveling to India, the British Virgin Islands, Italy, and more.
It’s such a challenging time. Care professionals, caregivers, and family members are so taxed right now, so to hear how this community has emerged and created a place that people enjoy coming together is more important now than ever.
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The Hummingbird Project pairs clients with therapeutic activity specialists trained in helping older adults re-engage in old passions and explore new interests. Activity plans are highly individualized and available across the nation. For more information, email or visit The Hummingbird Project online.
Sign up for the Let’s Get Away Together series.
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