Langley is a suburb of Vancouver nestled in between Surrey and Abbotsford in the heart of the Fraser Valley. In September, this bustling community will host the 27th annual BC Seniors Games, the third major event to be held there since 2010. It is largely due to that experience that the organizing committee is moving confidently towards welcoming seniors from across the province for the annual competition.
Since the first Games were hosted by Vernon in the summer of 1988, British Columbians, aged 55 and over, have gathered to face off against one another in some spirited yet friendly games. While every competitor would delight in winning a medal, most simply enjoy competing, meeting like-minded people from other regions of the province, and getting together to socialize at the banquet and other events.
Over the years, communities from almost every region of the province have hosted the Games, at one time or the other, but this is Langley’s first time to serve as host.
Milt Kruger, President of the Langley 2014 BC Seniors Games host society, was appointed in March 2013 and he is one of the people who has benefited from being part of the previous competitions held in his community, or rather, communities. Langley is comprised of both a city and a township, making this successful bid one of the most unique in the history of the Games.
“I had no previous experience with the Seniors Games but, back in 2010, we hosted the BC Summer Games for young people, and I played a minor role for those games,” says Milt. “Then we hosted the Special Olympics in 2013, and many of our directors gained a lot of experience volunteering at those major events. We have a great depth and breadth of experience on our team.”
For the competitors, the BC Seniors Games take place over a five-day span towards the end of summer (September 9-13), but the organization of the Games takes much longer. This year, the organizing committee is expecting approximately 3,800 participants to take part, and they estimate they will require about 1,500 volunteers to make this happen. Details are already being worked on in a number of areas by the various directors and their chairs.
“We will be hosting 25 distinct areas of competition,” says Milt. “…some areas of competition have multiple events in them. For example, track and field is one area of competition. However, it consists of multiple events within that area. The same would be true of swimming, equestrian and others.”
Even in events that do not have multiple events within them there can often be a number of different competitions, such as table tennis being broken into singles and doubles tournaments for each gender plus mixed doubles. There are also age divisions in most of the different competitions.
Milt and his leadership team also took advantage of an opportunity presented to them this past summer.
“Our complete Board of Directors attended the 2013 BC Seniors Games in Kamloops this past summer. We all had a chance to experience the Games and work alongside our counterparts in Kamloops. It was an invaluable experience for all of us,” says Milt. “We had a good understanding of multi-sport games, but what we learned were the differences between youth and seniors games. For example, in youth games there is a lot of requirement to provide transportation because most of them are too young to drive. All the meals for youth games are covered by the Games committees and most of the competitors receive accommodation in schools, which requires chaperones. In the Seniors Games, [competitors] stay in hotels, with family and in RVs. Mostly, they are responsible for their own food and many of them come with their own vehicles or modes of transportation.”
The backbone of any successful games, of course, is volunteers. While all of the Board of Directors and most of the approximately 80 chair positions have been filled, there is much work yet to be done in this area.
“We will need several more volunteers early in the New Year to help during the lead up to the games, as well as hundreds of volunteers as we get closer to the actual events,” says Milt. “These volunteers will be required in virtually every aspect of delivery of the Games – areas such as medical, security, visitor hosts, accreditation, registration and results, and much more. Right now, games awareness is what we are striving for. Langley is a real hotbed of people who are willing to give back to the community, so we are not worried about finding volunteers.”
Online registration for volunteers will go live sometime in February 2014 at www.2014bcseniorsgames.org
The final thing the group is emphasizing right now is corporate involvement in the Games. “One thing we would like to generate now is interest in sponsorships,” says Milt. Interested companies or potential sponsors should contact Anton Donkers at email@example.com
JANUARY 2014 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE
This article has been viewed 2792 times.