Adventure Weekend was the idea of one woman, who shared it with another and from there it was born. It’s a kind of love letter, Betty Borry crafted in 1995 and sent out to every woman with breast cancer---an invitation to come together. A letter a mother might send to her daughter; a sister to her sister; or friend to best friend. The kind of letter only someone who really gets you could write. She knows your quirks and doesn’t judge. She makes you laugh, and over the miles manages to give you the best hug ever. A letter that finishes, “It’s okay, you can do it. We can do it.”
Betty was an assistant principal at a New Hampshire middle school, and an avid outdoorswoman. A loyal Eastern Mountain Sports customer, for years she sought the advice of Ellen Moran, then-manager of the Peterborough store. The women talked kayaks, snowshoes, packs, hiking boots. Betty asked lots of questions, and sought Ellen’s help in deciding what kayak to buy or what trail to explore.
One day in the mid-1990’s Betty asked Ellen for a different kind of help. In the midst of a cancer recurrence, Betty yearned for a support group that focused on living, doing, having fun in the great outdoors. Would Ellen help her create an Outward Bound-type program for breast cancer survivors? Ellen accepted the challenge in large part because she also knows the healing powers of the outdoors. She understood what Betty wanted and why. Ellen said, “Yes.”
Paddling her kayak on a nearby lake was Betty’s ultimate place of sanctuary. She felt alert, alive, content. Betty wanted to share this feeling with other women who’d been told, “You have breast cancer.” Her dream was to help these women connect with each other, share stories and participate in outdoor challenges to help them better deal with all the stress and changes in their lives. Betty understood the restorative powers of nature and knew she and other women with breast cancer could benefit physically, mentally and spiritually from such a program.
With support from the American Cancer Society and Eastern Mountain Sports, Betty and Ellen launched Adventure Weekend in 1995. Over 400 women attended Adventure Weekend from1995 through 2010. At the end of 2010, The American Cancer Society made the difficult decision to withdraw its funding support.
After a one-year absence, Adventure Weekend came back home to its roots, to the family of women who were hand-picked by Betty to keep the program going. Betty J. Borry Breast Cancer Retreats is now home to Adventure Weekend and its sister retreats, all of which get women outdoors to play, explore, learn and grow with other women who share the journey beyond breast cancer.