A retreat for couples seeking stronger relationships


September 2025

(specific dates TBA)

Register early...
We only have space for 5 couples!

“I felt heard, understood and discovered by my partner”

“So helpful to have access to professional therapists to help whenever we got stuck in an exercise”

“The best couples workshop we have ever attended”

“Opened up conversations with my partner we have never had”

Looking to enhance your relationship connection?

This retreat will help you strengthen your emotional connection with your partner.

You and your partner will become more empathic, accessible, responsive and engaged with each other.

You will better understand the science of attachment and love.


What is this Couple’s Retreat?

The Okanagan Relationship and Wellness Centre and Elements Adventure Company have collaborated to offer you a Hold Me Tight couples workshop in the context of a fully-guided and catered whitewater canoe trip down the Kootenay River in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, BC, Canada.

This Hold Me Tight-Kootenay River adventure is an opportunity, not only to immerse yourself deeply into some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world, but also to connect deeply with your life partner. You will be guided through a series of seven carefully crafted conversations, each designed to address blocks in your relationship and bring you closer together. Professional couples coaches will be available to provide you with individualized support for each of these conversations. At no time will you be required to share personal issues in a group setting.

Hold me Tight is a world renowned couples workshop designed to meet you in your relationship wherever you are. It is promoted by the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and licensed to Dr. Sue Johnson. For more information about Hold me Tight go to https://drsuejohnson.com/books/.

This 7-day retreat experience is designed specifically for outdoorsy couples who want an exciting summer holiday and who are ready to commit some focused work on their relationship.

What’s Included from the Adventure Side

Canoeing Instruction

Learn to communicate your broader goals, needs, and limitations.  Develop trust of your partners strengths and skills.

Camping as a couple

Developing teamwork and creating time for self.

Problem solving on the river

Assessing risk and allowing for individual comfort levels.  Collaborate to make a solid plan through or around challenging rapids.

Please check out Elements Adventure Company’s webpage to learn more about this exciting adventure through some of Canada’s most inspiring landscapes and what is involved to prepare.


Is HOLD ME TIGHT for you?

This Hold Me Tight retreat is designed to help couples at any stage of a relationship who wish to enhance their connection.

If you wish to establish a more secure emotional connection with your partner, yet find yourself at an impasse in certain key moments, this is the adventure retreat for you.

People of all backgrounds, ages, faiths and sexual orientations can participate in this outdoor retreat.

Hold Me Tight is an educational program, developed by Sue Johnson, who developed the model of couple therapy: Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. You will receive the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson in advance of attending a retreat.

All sharing is between you and your spouse with certified professional coaches ready to support you as needed.

Hetero and LGBTQ couples are warmly welcomed.

We also offer Hold Me Tight in an online workshop format.

Build new patterns of trust, love and intimacy

The Hold Me Tight outdoor retreat is an experience for couples of bonding through a series of guided and safe conversations designed to help them build new patterns of trust, love and intimacy.

It is based around Seven Transforming Conversations that include:

Recognizing Demon Dialogues
In this first conversation, couples identify cycles that trap and prevent them from hearing one another’s deepest desire for love and connection.

Finding the Raw Spots
Here, each partner learns to look beyond each other’s immediate, impulsive reactions, seeking to understand vulnerabilities and fears often rooted in early life experiences and past relationships.

Revisiting a Rocky Moment
This conversation provides a platform for safely revisiting a past conflict, seeking to repair potentially injured emotional connection in our relationship.

Hold Me Tight
This is the heart of your Intimate Adventure. This conversation moves partners into being more accessible, emotionally responsive, and deeply engaged with each other.

Forgiving Injuries
Bumps, bruises and scrapes are an inevitable part of being on the river. Being able to talk about mistakes is an essential part of trusting my paddling partner. The same is true for my life partner. Knowing how to find and offer forgiveness empowers us to strengthen our bond.

Bonding through Sex and Touch
Here, couples find how emotional connection creates great sex, and good sex creates deeper emotional connection.

Keeping Your Love Alive
This last conversation is built on the understanding that love is a continual process of rediscovering emotional connection; it asks couples to be deliberate and mindful about maintaining connection.


charles ruechel

Charles Ruechel

Elements Adventure Company Director,
Paddle Canada Certified Instructor and Guide
Phone: 250-308-8924
Email: charles@elementsadventures.com

Meet Your Canoeing Guide

Charles began his career in outdoor recreation and leadership first as an instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School, based in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory – leading young adults on 30-day river and mountain adventures, teaching leadership skills, outdoor living skills, and environmental ethics.

Charles founded Elements Adventure Company in 2013 as a way to share his love for the natural environment and his passion for adventure. He enjoys creating new programs, trips and courses that are more than just adventures – they are designed to connect people to nature, teach life-long skills, and provide an atmosphere for reflection and personal development.

Charles and Henry first met in 2014 on a whitewater canoeing course, and have had many adventures on the water and in the mountains together every year since. Over the years they discovered that they both have the same passion for adventure, building connections between people, and facilitating growth – and so they began to explore how they could combine their talents, skills, and interests.

“I saw how sharing an extended wilderness adventure with someone can create such a powerful bond as you disconnect from the ‘busy’ world and work through some real challenges together on the river. It seemed like a natural next step to have a professional like Henry facilitate some focused time on enhancing relationships as part of a trip.”

henry sawatzky

Henry Sawatzky

MA; RCC and Director
Phone: 250-878-6943
Email: henry.sawatzky@relationshipwellnesscentre.com

Your Relationship Coach

Henry has been a professional couples and relationship coach for over 30 years, and has been facilitating couples retreats and workshops since 2014. He also carries a deep love for the outdoors and has experienced the transformative power of adventuring in the wilderness. Through hiking and paddling extensively in British Columbia and Manitoba, he has become a skilled outdoorsman and whitewater canoeist.

This unique blend of expertise and interests allows him to use a river journey as a medium to strengthen the bond between you and your partner.

“The beauty, serenity and challenges offered by the Kootenay River make it the perfect place to challenge and deepen your relationship with your partner”.

Where Will This Take Place?

Kootenay River, British Columbia

With its awe-inspiring scenery and delightful whitewater, this gem of a river rivals any remote wilderness river of the Far North.

This trip has intermediate-level paddlers starting deep within the heart of the Rocky Mountains, as they trace the flanks of the rugged peaks, enjoying 6 days on the glacial blue Kootenay river waters. Fascinating geological features accent each bend, creating stunning views and playful rapids ranging from class 1-3. Our relaxed itinerary allows for time to play in the cool waters and explore the magical side trails in this corridor.

An intermediate level of river canoeing skill is required to participate, and can be achieved in the one season before the trip start – even by novice paddlers. There are several opportunities to participate in an exciting weekend of river canoeing instruction in advance of the trip for those needing extra skills training/experience. Please check here for details.

What Others Say…

Having done both canoe tripping and couples counselling, it was very interesting to combine the two.  Henry and Rosalie were fantastic facilitators and held the space nicely for both the group and our relationship.  The 3 guides (Charles, Karl and Tino) managed all the camp work so there was still enough down time to relax after a day of paddling and before the evening sessions.  The Kootenay River is so beautiful and the paddling provided just the right challenge.  The Hold Me Tight principles and framework really helped deepen our relationship and it was fun to watch all the couples champion for their relationships together.  This trip was the highlight of our year and I would highly recommend it to any outdoorsy couple! 
– Daniel Leidl

It goes without saying that couples who canoe together experience unique challenges. As we’ve learned, metaphorically, many of these highs and lows transfer into daily life.

This past summer, we spent 6 days on the Kootenay River, choosing to paddle outside our comfort zone by taking the Couple’s Retreat. Turns out it was an incredible way to enhance our relationship with the water and our connection with each other.
We felt truly fortunate to have Henry facilitate some heartfelt discussions each evening. He has a professional and genuine approach to helping people look both inward and outward in positive ways. Henry helped us face fears and doubts without fear or doubt. He gave us some practical tools to reinforce how much we care about each other. Most evident, however, was Henry’s ability to listen to everyone with a kind, well trained, professional ear – one that seeks to move people forward while honouring their past.
During the Kootnay Couple’s Retreat, we felt safe and supported among like-minded people, all of whom had a real desire to develop stronger ties with their partners.
I believe we all became better “paddlers” as a result.
Thanks Henry for proposing and following through on the Kootenay River Couple’s Retreat. Ideas are cheap but it takes the right energy to make them happen. We are very grateful and will paddle with you anywhere, any time.
Kevin Dunn

September 2025

On the Kootenay River, British Columbia

Reduce your conflict and increase your sense of connection.

hold me tight book, 7 conversations for a lifetime of loveBased on the book

Hold Me Tight:

Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

By: Dr. Sue Johnson www.holdmetight.com

What’s included:
  • Curriculum binder & writing utensil
  • All food and equipment for a fully-guided and catered whitewater canoe trip – please see www.elementsadventures.com for details.
Cancellation Policy:
  • Up to 90 days before trip departure: Full credit available for any trip or offering within 14 months of the original trip date, or refund minus a $200 cancellation fee.
  • Less than 90 days before trip: No credits or refunds available.
  • Transfers and substitutions: Up to 90 days prior to the trip start date, one transfer to another trip is permitted without charge. Any subsequent transfers will require a $100/person transfer fee. Clients may request authorization from EAC for a substitute to take their place without charge, pending their prerequisite skills and experience. Cancellation policy timelines apply for substitutions and transfers. Substitutions cannot be made less than 90 days prior to the trip.

All courses, trips or tours may be subject to cancellation by Elements Adventure Company (EAC) due to low registration, weather, wildfire, floods, droughts, global pandemics, or other unforeseen circumstances. When a course, trip or tour is cancelled, EAC assumes no responsibility for non-refundable airline tickets, travel, lodging or other expenses incurred. We highly recommend that our clients obtain travel cancellation insurance. If EAC must cancel a course, trip or tour for any reason: an alternative course/trip/tour date(s) will be provided. If clients are unable to attend an alternative provided, they will receive a full credit valid for two (2) years from the date of the cancelled course/trip/tour, after which time they forfeit any unused credit to EAC. Clients also have the option to have their fees refunded, less the cancellation fee specified for each course/trip/tour outlined in our full Cancellation Policy.


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couples retreat bc
Couples Workshop