The First Annual Penguin Swim

After a well deserved break it was wonderful to welcome many of the boys back to Bolton House. A few more trickled in over the weekend and there was a reunion type feeling when each arrived. This week was a quick one as it was only two days before the weekend was upon us. The boys arrived from all parts of the globe so it will be interesting to see how the jet lag battles are fairing by Monday. Here are David, Jack, will and Mathias, who all happened to meet at the Vancouver Airport for the flight to Victoria after returning from The Bahamas, Nevada, New Brunswick and the Yukon. What a cool community!


Saturday marked the start of a new tradition. A polar bear swim is a long standing Canadian activity. It is usually completed at the start of a new year and is said to cleanse the body in preparation for a positive year ahead.  We decided to put a Bolton twist on this chilly event and coined it a “Penguin Swim”! At the announcement of this endeavour there was a lot of uncertainty, but by the time we left the House a couple days later, most of the guys were raring to go. Decked out in our warmest attire, we ventured down to Cadboro Bay Beach where we were met by a reasonably high tide. Minds seemed a little more at ease when the boys saw a large container of hot chocolate and Timbits waiting as the post plunge warm up committee. Clothing layers were peeled off and the guys mustered on the beach in just their swim trunks. The temperature outside was 5 degrees, so there were plenty of pushups and jumping jacks to help get the blood flowing and the body ready for 6-7 degree ocean temperature.

When we finally had all participants lined up along the shore, a shout of “Penguin Swim” sounded the go time. There were various levels of commitment and the water depth was perfect for just that. Those who were a little more shy to the frigid sea, quickly turned around as the knees met the water for the first time. Others seemed to feel nothing and dove right in without batting an eye. Matthias, a Whitehorse native, was the last standing soldier. His years of northern winters seemed to come in handy and it was joked that, “there wasn’t even ice in this water”. After a few double dips, everyone was quick to pull on their warm layers and get a hot chocolate in hand. It was hilarious to see the different warm up strategies and pouring hot chocolate directly on cold feet made for the most laughter.

All in all, it was a definite success. Hot showers and a pizza party greeted the boys on their return to the house. There is nothing like battling a little adversity to bring people together. It was a great new tradition for the house in typical Canadian fashion – even the house parents got involved!


The weekend culminated with two other Canadian classics: hockey and boardgames. In housegames, many of the boys battled it out playing floor hockey while others showed off their drawing skills with Pictionary. As all ways they boys played with skill, effort and great sportsmanship! Afterwards we were treated to a delicious Community Dinner, hosted by one of the girls’ houses, themed after the upcoming Chinese New Year.


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