Hold Me Tight - Couples Canoeing
Adventure Retreat

Now Accepting Applications for 2025!


This unique couples adventure retreat is a collaboration between the Okanagan Relationship and Wellness Centre and Elements Adventure Company – a fully-guided and catered whitewater canoe trip combined with a world-renowned couples workshop led by a certified professional facilitator.

Amidst the stunning backdrop of Rocky Mountain peaks, on the glacial- fed waters of the Kootenay River, this 7-day retreat is designed for couples looking to share an adventure experience that will create unforgettable memories and build a healthier relationship.

This river canoeing trip follows the itinerary of our popular Kootenay River Expedition and includes the content of a “Hold me Tight” couples workshop woven into the fabric of this adventure.  The program design and professional facilitation is provided by Henry Sawatzky, MA; RCC & Director of Okanagan Relationship and Wellness Centre, who has been leading successful workshops since 2002 – and is also a seasoned whitewater canoeist!

Trip Dates

September 2025 TBA

Trip Duration

7 days (6 days on the water)


$5,400 + GST per couple. Early-bird pricing – register by March 1, 2025 and save $450


Receive a 10% discount on a 2-day river-canoeing course taught by a certified Paddle Canada and/or RCABC instructor in advance of the expedition. Discount applies to tuition and rentals.

Meet Your Relationship Coach

henry sawatzky
Henry Sawatzky has been a professional couples and relationship coach for over 30 years, now specializing in facilitating couples retreats and workshops.  Henry holds a deep love for the outdoors and has experienced firsthand the transformative power of adventuring in the wilderness.  He has become a skilled outdoorsman and whitewater canoeist by hiking and paddling extensively in British Columbia and Manitoba, Henry’s unique blend of expertise and skills allow him to offer this 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”.

About the Couples Workshops

You will be guided through a series of seven carefully crafted conversations based on the book Hold Me Tight. Each conversation is 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 couples in any stage of their relationship. It is promoted by the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and licensed to Dr. Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.

Please visit  https://relationshipwellnesscentre.com/hold-me-tight-online-couples-workshop/ to learn more about the workshop content.

hold me tight book

Who is this Trip for?

  • “I want to experience an unforgettable wilderness adventure with my partner and enhance our communication and ability to work together as a team.”
  • “We want to strengthen our bond outside the framework of daily life. “
  • “I want to be able to paddle moderately challenging whitewater with my partner in a safe and supported setting.”
  • “I’m looking for an adventure that gives me the space to connect with myself, my partner and to the natural world around me.”

Hetero and LGBTQ couples are warmly welcomed.

Customer Reviews

What Others Say

“The workshop facilitators were fantastic and held the space nicely for both the group and our relationship. The guides 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!”
D. Leidl, Vernon BC

What are others saying about this retreat?

“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 Kootenay 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.”

– K. Dunn, Penticton BC

Application & Registration Process

Step 1. Please visit the Okanagan Relationship and Wellness Centre workshop page and fill out an application.

Step 2. Each couple will have a short conversation with the lead guide (Charles) and with the workshop facilitator (Henry) to ensure that the trip is a great match for you.  There are several opportunities to participate in river canoeing courses in advance of the trip for those needing extra skills training/experience.  An intermediate level of river canoeing skill is required and can be achieved in the one season before trip start, even by novice paddlers. The $75 application fee is fully refundable for ineligible clients.

Step 3. Complete the registration process by filling out the required forms and submitting the $500 per person deposit.  The $75 application fee and $500pp. deposit are applied towards the total trip cost.

How is this Expedition Unique?

From a paddling perspective alone, the Kootenay River is truly the best and most accessible multi-day canoe trip in Western Canada.  Ethereal blue water, fascinating geology, rare flora, awesome mountain views, and playful whitewater await those who have the skill to travel this river corridor.  Sharing this adventure with anyone is a sure way to create strong bonds and memories.  Add in some professional facilitation for improving relationships and you have a one-of-a-kind way to spend your summer vacation with your partner.  This trip will provide you with skills and memories that will stay with you the rest of your lives.


Included in the Price

  • 2 certified whitewater canoeing guides
  • Professional facilitation & evening sessions led by Henry Sawatzky, MA; RCC & Director of Okanagan Relationship and Wellness Centre and one certified assistant coach
  • Backcountry meals (while on the river from Dinner on Day 1 to Lunch on Day 7) 
  • High-quality paddling and safety equipment (boats, paddles, helmets, PFD’s, drybags, barrels, etc.).
  • All group camping gear (cooking equipment, coolers, tarps, food barrels, water filtration, etc).
  • Camping & park fees
  • Vehicle shuttle

Not Included in the Trip Price

  • Front-country meals (on the road) – Day 1 breakfast & lunch, Day 7 dinner.
  • Transportation to and from the Kootenay River
  • Personal camping gear, tent, sleeping bag, thermarest – available to rent upon request.


We will have a rafting option for couples who are not (yet) canoeists or who have limited canoeing experience but comfort in/on water and a keen interest in camping and adventuring outdoors. 

Couples wanting to paddle a canoe must have experience canoeing on intermediate rivers and be confident adventuring in the outdoors. They are familiar with basic canoeing strokes and manoeuvres, have both taken a river paddling course, and are comfortable around/on/in moving water.  Participants can expect to build on skills and experience in new and challenging conditions under the leadership of their guides.  Participants should be fit and capable of carrying their canoe and gear over rough terrain. 

Please note: There are several opportunities to participate in river canoeing courses in advance of the trip for those needing extra skills training/experience.  With commitment to practice, an intermediate level of river canoeing skill can be achieved in the one season preceding the trip, even by novice paddlers.


  • hiking, fishing, snoozing, reading
  • learning about local botany, geology, ecology
  • learning river canoeing skills such as scouting rapids, group management, choosing safe lines through rapids, making safe decisions, and more
  • stopping to play in a safe rapid
  • evening circle (debrief the day, review plan for tomorrow)
  • stargazing
  • there will most likely be some singing…
  • there will most definitely be cooking and eating delicious food!


  • Maximum 5 couples
  • Application process includes conversations with Charles and Henry to ensure fit. 
  • Early-bird pricing available before March 15 save $450 per couple
  • Early-bird pricing is always available for bookings of 2 or more couples booking together
  • To help you prepare, you will be issued a detailed trip package upon receiving your registration.
  • A $1000 deposit is required for each couple to hold your reservation.  The balance is due 90 days prior to trip start, after which time, no refund will be available. Refunds can be issued up to 90 days prior to the trip date but a $200 cancellation fee per person will be deducted.  Special considerations may be made for medical conditions. Please read the full cancellation policy here.