Snowbirds, Campgrounds and Active Seniors

Renee and Gaetan in Florida

Renee and Gaetan in Florida

My daughter, Colleen, lives in the Canadian province of Quebec. And so does her mother-in-law.  Renee says she is going to live to be 100, and Colleen is convinced that she will because she takes great care of herself. This is a story about an #ActiveSenior and it’s part of my series to help convince seniors to get off the couch and get active!

Renee is 72. You know how I say that 78 is the new 65, well, with Renee’s 72 it’s definitely the new 60 – maybe 58. She’s someone who, like me, likes to get up in the morning and have breakfast, watches what she eats and drinks, takes care of herself, likes to do things,, and isn’t scared to try new things. For example: she was 60 when she first got her driver’s licence.


For any of you who don’t know about the Snowbird lifestyle of many Canadians and Quebecers in particular, let me fill you in. Renee is Gaetan’s “Blonde” and he is her “Chum”, – that’s the Quebec way of saying girlfriend and boyfriend. This retired couple spends around four of the winter months in Florida. They head south around the first week of November, and head back at the beginning of April.

They used to have a fifth-wheel trailer which they towed down the I-75 behind a Ford F-150 to camp in Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami. They did that until the land got sold and the campground became a condo project, around six years ago.

Then they tried another campground on Florida’s west coast, near Tampa, but found it wasn’t really their thing. Tampa weather wasn’t quite as nice as it had been around Miami, although the campground was chocker-block full of Quebecois and had a lot of great activities.

They then decided to get rid of the fifth wheel and the truck and try out renting for a season and they found that they love it. Now, they return each year to a one-bedroom apartment just north of Miami and enjoy their modified snowbird lifestyle. Close to the beach and shops, they’re able to keep active by walking nearly everywhere they go. On their daily “To-Do” list are daily walks on the beach, meeting up with friends along the way and enjoying the sunshine.

They have a home outside of Montreal, but from the middle of May to the middle of September, you’ll mostly find them in a campground just outside of Granby, Quebec, where they and a couple hundred others have a trailer parked permanently on the site. Some of the campground’s residents take advantage of their summer retreats by building decks, gazeboes, fire pits and water displays on their properties, and everyone keeps their area clean and tidy.

Campground Life

Campground life has its own rhythm. There’s Bingo every Friday night which Renee volunteers to work at (while Gaetan sometimes plays), a 50/50 draw on Saturdays that can net you a nice paycheque if you’re lucky – but it’s the fitness activities she really loves.

The campground’s swimming pool was just renovated, and there is aqua fitness lead by a volunteer when it’s sunny and warm outside. But what Renee is really excited about is the low-impact aerobic class held in the campground’s main hall.

It’s the first time this class has been offered and, like the aqua fitness, it’s run by a volunteer, twice a week. Since May 15th, she’s lost 10 pounds, lost an inch around her middle, toned her arms to lose some of her chicken wings, and has even more energy than ever before. Someone in the class has a pedometer and the men and women who participate move the equivalent of 5 kilometres each class.

Colleen asked Renee if she would video a portion of the class for the blog, and Renee did. The class is attended by both women and men, and when Colleen asked her where there are so few seniors participating, Renee shakes her head.

“I don’t know. I don’t understand why people don’t give it a try. They can go at their own pace, and it’s really fun.”

Hooray for Renee. She’s a great example of an #ActiveSenior who is a great role model, who realizes that you really need to take care of yourself as you get older, and she does.

Are you an #ActiveSenior? Let me know, tell me your story.

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