For many, nature is balm for a weary soul. It soothes, heals and puts our senses in order.
For all living things, nature restores, renews and revives.
Using the abundant hiking trails, waterways and parkland in Frontenac County, the Kingston Outdoor Adventure Club is using nature to nurture the human spirit.
Speaking from a Kingston pub a couple of days before the club’s official launch at Rock Dunder Hiking Trail in Seeley’s Bay on June 2, Directors Dana Halladay and Mike Janiec are excited to bring people together to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, skiing, skating and snowshoeing.
“There’s not really a limit to what we can do,” says Halladay with a smile. “There’s so much around us.”
“And we’re not just planning events around Kingston,” adds Janiec. “We’re going to Jasper Park, Banff National Park and Costa Rica. That’s just a start.”
Although operating for the last three years under the banner of Meetup, the club recently incorporated as a not-for-profit. It is one of many changes the group has made to create a more social, vibrant organization for people looking for outdoor fun.
“It’s all volunteers who do the work,” explains Halladay. “There’s a misconception it’s a singles group, but it’s not. We have couples, seniors and children. We have all ages. It’s open to everyone with a focus on locals who want to participate. We have a lot of people from Kingston and Frontenac County in the club.”
An avid outdoors person most of her life, Halladay is on a personal quest to climb 46 peaks in the Adirondacks by the end of the year. She joined the club to enjoy the company of others on hikes and other fun adventures.
“It’s better to do them with someone else,” she says kindly. “I think it helps bring some people out of their shells. Once they come out to an event, they tend to relax, have fun and realize it’s an inclusive group.
“We’ve had over 300 events in the last three years and I can’t say there’s been a single time I haven’t had fun,” explains the 48-year-old. “It just keeps growing. It’s good.”
Janiec, a cottager on Long Lake located north of Parham, is looking forward to introducing people to new activities.
“I like it when we get someone out and trying something new,” he confirms. “When you get someone out for the first time, it’s pretty exciting.”
Activities for the club are chosen by the leaders with input from members.
“We decided it’s got to be fun,” says Janiec, 56, with a smile. “We have a diverse group who do different things.”
“I’ll do anything but skydiving,” notes Halladay with a laugh.
Two of the club’s 12 leaders, Halladay and Janiec, would like to see more members and volunteer leaders.
“We’d like to see more people leading events to create more choices. Our hikes always fill-up,” says Halladay.
With more leaders, the group could offer more activities such as scuba diving and white-water canoeing. To be a leader, you need Basic First Aid, experience and the ability to handle unforeseen situations.
“I’ve made some great friends in this club,” notes Halladay, who tries to role-model capability and encouragement. “I enjoy hiking and camping with everybody. They’re just a good bunch of people.”