Healthy Forms of Play in the Local Cancer Community: Will You Come Out and Play with Us?

Healthy Forms of Play in the Local Cancer Community: Will You Come Out and Play with Us?

By Tim E. Renzelmann

Navigating Along the Cancer Journey (Orienteering)

Note: Accompanying photos are not available on this blog but can be seen in the attached PDF.

Thursday, October 14th

Orienteering, although it can be a grueling activity and a competitive sport, can also be a healthy, relaxing and enjoyable form of play and a healing walk in the woods. On this day a group of cancer patients/survivors and co-survivors met at the Red Oaks permanent orienteering course. Together, using a highly-detailed topographical map, a compass and a spirit of adventure, we completed the course successfully (even though we discovered that control #4 was curiously missing). Leah, one of our ST&BF orienteers, referenced a John Muir quote to describe the experience quite fittingly: “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 13th as the Badger Orienteering Club offers an orienteering event at the Greenbush Trails (contact Tim for details)! NOTE: Badger Orienteering maintains a handful of do-it-yourself (DIY) courses -- where you can practice orienteering on your own time. Visit for details!

Hiking Along the Cancer Journey (Day Hikes/Overnight Backpack Option)

Friday & Saturday, October 15th & 16th

The next day (Friday) a group of cancer patients/ survivors and co-survivors gathered for some Hiking Along the Cancer Journey day hikes and as well as an overnight backpack option on the property of Jay Christopher, owner of the Christopher Farm & Gardens. A few sprinkles met us at the start of our first hike but quickly dissipated and we went on to enjoy a gorgeous evening hike that included the sound of a screeching eagle and a reported owl siting!

Our second hike of the evening, although it started with daylight, concluded with a gorgeous sunset.

With the arrival of night, many departed except for a few more adventurous survivors who enjoyed a typical backpacker’s supper followed by a late-night hike and some cribbage under a camp light with sounds of the wind and waves surrounding an idyllic spot high on the bluff along the Lake Michigan Shoreline. Eventually, the temptation of the warmth provided by our sleeping bags became difficult to resist! But we were up in plenty of time to greet the light of a new day.

NOTE: One of my favorite things to do (which I did that morning) as I watch a sunrise is listen to Dan Fogelberg’s “To the Morning”! Imagine watching the sunrise as you listen to this beautiful song:

Great Heights with Delightful Kites Together with “Play is Healing: Kite Flyingng for Mindful Joy”

Saturday, October 16th

We scheduled the overnight outing at CF&G after our ST&BF “Great Heights with Delightful Kites” kite pilots/enthusiasts were invited to be a part of a “Play is Healing: Kite Flying for Mindful Joy” event on Saturday morning at the Christopher Farm & Gardens. The “Play is Healing” initiative involves Sheboygan County Partners (Above & Beyond Children’s Museum, Mental Health America, Sheboygan County YMCA and Sheboygan Area School District Community Recreation Department and a wide variety of “playmates” from throughout the community including SCCCF) coming together to provide exceptional play opportunities for our youth to heal and reconnect from the pandemic.

Special thanks to our kite pilots/enthusiasts/volunteers: Bob the Builder Hartig, Sue & John Zalewski, Linda & Mike Ansay, Leah Heusterberg, Kirstin Opgenorth and Beth Stockdale who came together to help the kids get some kites in the air!

Bob the Builder performed “Kite Drops” (with treats for the kids) throughout the event. Sue and John assisted kids in flying dual-line trainer kites (dual-line kites have two lines that allow the pilot to control the kite) with Leah and Kirstin assisting. “The first kite flyer I had was a young girl,” Sue reported. “Her mother told me that when she heard she could fly a kite she was so excited. The smile on her face holding onto the kite strings was priceless.” Beth noted, “The little girl with her dad flying her fish kite was precious! She would fall down and say she crashed and then her kite would crash! Then she would say, ‘CRAZY!’”

I had the opportunity to Play with this little girl (see attached PDF for photo) as she got her “Antsy Pantsy” kite in the air with an unmatched enthusiasm and reminded me of the pure joy of Play!

Linda and Mike got a few kites of their own in the air... and special thanks to Mike who performed some “field repair” that allowed us to fly Above & Beyond Children’s Museum’s Purple Octopus (left) kite and Whale inflatable (below)!

A “Shout Out” to Aaron Renzelmann (my nephew)! Aaron had joined me one day recently while I was flying one of my dual-line kites and his first reaction was, “I had no idea it was such a thrill.” The very next day he ordered a dual-line foil kite, which he brought out on this day to demonstrate some kite acrobatics for the visitors. At one point I was watching his kite loop through the air with a 75-foot tail attached... and as I followed the kite lines down to the ground, expecting to see Aaron on the other end, all I saw were to two hands rising above overgrowth of the field as Aaron was laying on his back as he played with his kite! With his permission, here is a link to some photos and videos from the day (including some video that, I’m not sure how, he managed to take while lying on his back and flying the dual-line kite):

Thank you to all involved in this “Play is Healing: Kite Flying for Mindful Joy” event and the “Play is Joy” initiative! It certainly brought a lot of smiles to the faces of the young kids that attended as well as us older kids that were helping out!!!

Watch for more “Great Heights with Delightful Kite” opportunities based on weather/conditions (last year we offered several kite flies in November)!

After the kites were packed up and in my trunk I headed home where I reluctantly admitted to Shel (my wife) that I was exhausted (and NOT getting any younger)! In fact, I was too tired to unload the kites from the trunk until the next day!

ST&BF at the Christopher Farm & Gardens

Tuesday, October 19th

After a few days to recover, about thirty cancer patients/survivors and co-survivors returned to the Christopher Farm & Gardens for a variety of activites including a Trick or Treat Candy Scavenger Hunt, Great Heights with Delightful Kites, Qigong for Cancer Survivors, Yoga for Cancer Survivors and a warm Bonding Bonfire as the sun set and the (almost) full moon rose! I didn’t take many photos but you can check out some of the photos submitted here:

Thanks to Ann from CF&G, who set up the scavenger hunt, I could head to the kite field early to get a few kites in the air before folks arrived. I was joined by “Bob the Builder” who got his kite up in the air for a scheduled “Kite Drop.”

A few minutes before 3:00P, I left the kite field to welcome our guests and took the above photo with several kites in the air. About a half hour later, when the kite drop was scheduled, I returned to the kite field... only to find the kites resting lifelessly on the ground and barely a whisp of a wind! Bob and I eventually got a few kites back up in the air. Of course, I was disappointed that the wind didn’t cooperate... but, honestly, I enjoy the challenge of “playing” with kites and trying to get them up in low winds (which is more challenging than flying in strong winds)!

But no worries! After all, we were at CF&G... which is host to what has become the most popular/enjoyable Survive, Thrive & Be Fit activity – “Wandering the Wonderful Gardens!” On this day, the “wandering” had more purpose for those participating in the Trick or Treat Candy Scavenger Hunt. Themed Halloween candy was appropriately placed throughout the Gardens (i.e., Gummy Bears on the Bear Path, Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins at the Pumpkin Patch, Fortune Cookies in the Asian Gardens, etc.), luring folks to put in some “Steps to Survivorship” in search of as many as they could find.

We also enjoyed Qigong and Yoga for Cancer Survivors on the Labyrinth, during which an eagle perched itself above us to check out all of the activity (see attached PDF for photo)!

We concluded the evening with a “Bonding Bonfire” as the light transitioned to dark with hot dogs roasting on an open fire of a unique firepit (this one is made of railroad rails) in a special place with amazing people and good conversation on a gorgeous night!

Funny story! I placed a “Round Tuit” as a treat near the Labyrinth. As we chatted around the fire, one person asked, “So what is a round tuit? I had assumed everyone had seen and heard of a round tuit before! For anyone not familiar, this is a “Round Tuit” (see attached PDF for photo):

A “Round Tuit” is a valuable thing to have! Once you have a “Round Tuit” of your own you can accomplish all those things you said you would do when you got a Round Tuit! 😊

Consider joining us for our November visit to the Christopher Farm & Gardens on Wednesday, November 17th and another chance to “Wander the Wonderful Gardens” and enjoy another “Bonding Bonfire”! Watch for details or contact Tim!

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