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Jill, Jo and the Galapagos

Jill Jurgens, Fitness Instructor at Folkestone in Wayzata, MN was thrilled when resident Jo Frerichs requested snorkeling lessons in the pool in preparation for her trip to the Galapagos. The warm saltwater pool is typically the place for lap swimmers, recreation and water aerobics, but snorkeling practice was a new stroke.

Over the past three years, Jo, a frequent user of the Fitness Center, got to know Jill and learned that she was an avid traveler with SCUBA diving experience!  So, Jo sought Jill’s guidance to prepare her for upcoming trip - which would include snorkeling in the tropical waters of the Galapagos Islands!

The pair met for lessons in the conveniently located on-campus pool. Jo borrowed some of Jill’s snorkeling equipment and they practiced how to properly put on the mask and how to float just below the water surface. 

On a few occasions after practice, Jill would exclaim “that was your best swim and snorkel yet!” Jo would take off her goggles and admit, “I forgot to open my eyes!” The pair laughed at this, enjoying the time spent learning and growing together.

Jill shared, “The more relationships I build here at Presbyterian Homes the more it reemphasizes why I want to stay here. I am learning we all have things in common and the things we don’t have in common cause me to learn. My sessions with Jo in the pool forged a unique bond between us. I appreciate this rare opportunity and time well spent with such an adventurous person!”



After a few lessons, Jo got into the swim of things. A few weeks later, she took off for the famous islands off the coast of Ecuador, known for its vibrant wildlife. One of the beautiful things about a heated indoor training pool is that you don’t have the distraction of waves.  At this point, you are expecting to hear about a perfect swim in the crystal clear water of the Galapagos, but as with many things in life, the conditions weren’t quite as calm as the Folkestone pool and Jo felt out of her depth. So, Jo opted for more inland activities but she doesn’t regret her snorkeling lessons for a moment.

She returned from what she calls “a trip of a lifetime” with many wildlife photos and memories. Although she didn’t get to have the snorkeling experience she had hoped and practiced for, “the positive is that Jill and I have become friends!” she said. 

When two adventurous souls collide, it makes for one epic adventure.

We are grateful that so many who choose to serve at PHS are driven by a desire to enrich lives in unique and positive ways! 

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