“Anybody seen my kayak?” joked David Fowler during the recent Fintry Provincial Park Campout for members of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club. Strong winds from the south blew in large waves giving club members a chance to practise their paddling skills. Another Fintry campout will be held on Aug. 9-12.

The past week was a reminder about the importance of socializing in connection with outdoor recreation.

It was the result of Monday’s regular monthly meeting of the Central Okanagan Outdoors Club (COOC), Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting of the Kelowna Canoe and Kayak (KCKC) and a series of email announcement/reminders from Meetup.com groups.

The COOC (centralokanagoutdoorsclub.ca) and KCKC (kckc.ca) were an opportunity to meet new members as well as catch up with current members on where they have been going for outdoor recreation, and the crucial details like how to get there, what to bring and the trail/water/weather conditions.

KCKC vice-president Morag Stevenson took the unusual step of organizing a social evening instead of the regular monthly meeting (second Tuesday of the month 7:30 p.m. at the May Bennett Wellness Centre, 135 Davie Rd., off Highway 33). OK, there was some business about upcoming events but it was mostly informal discussions about past and upcoming events.

One of the challenges of socializing in group activities - whether it is organized hiking, biking, kayaking or horseback riding — is that you are often in single file down a narrow trail or walking/riding two-by-two, or paddling beside one or two other kayakers. Veteran cyclist Rich Worthington in Meetup also made the point during one outing that many cycling accidents occur when talking to someone and not paying attention to safely pedalling. He suggested only chatting during breaks on the side of the trail or road. That was difficult for the incessant talkers.

The Sheriff likes a mix of socializing and quiet exploration. When no one is talking and not looking at each other but at your surroundings, all of a sudden you can hear the birds singing, deer don’t disappear before you come around the corner, fish are swimming under your kayak and jumping next to your watercraft. The rhythmic sound of a paddle dipping into the water creates a meditative moment.

Meetup groups (meetup.com/cities/ca/bc/kelowna/) not only organize a vast array of outdoor activities but many host fun socializing events such as an afternoon cruise on a patio boat on Okanagan Lake, house parties, snack/dinner at the Kelowna Yacht Club, Wednesday night Parks Alive concerts at the Island Stage in Kelowna’s Waterfront Park, Music in the Park concerts in West Kelowna, mini-golf and the Elvis Festival in Penticton.

Opportunity knocks. But it’s up to you to open the door.


The Kelowna Canoe and Kayak Club has a number of training sessions, outings and social events planned this summer.

James Manke, an international kayak instructor from Victoria, will be in Kelowna 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on July 21 to offer a rolling clinic. The cost is $125 with the location yet to be determined. Only a few spaces remain available. To register, contact Debbie Raincock at deb.raincock@telus.net.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our local paddling community,” said Raincock. “Here is an quote from one of the National Symposiums James attends as an instructor: ‘His passion is shared around the globe and it’s taken him to some amazing destinations including Japan, South America and Chile. James’ approach to instruction is easy to understand and provides well-rounded theories on how the rolls are accomplished. (James has mastered all 35 Greenland competition rolls.). Starting with a fear of the water himself, James has a calm approach and the ability to teach those anxious or timid. Many of his students have outstanding success as a result.’”

KCKC members will head to Salmon Arm on July 26-28 for yet-another campout at the Dimion ranch, a combination of paddling on Shuswap Lake and other lakes/waterways with socializing afterward. A summer picnic will be held in Lake Country on Aug. 3 and the second Fintry Campout of 2019 at Fintry Provincial Park is on Aug. 9-12. Intermediate training sessions will be held by Peachland instructor Peter Price on Aug. 12.


The MEC Kelowna Okanagan Trail Race at Big White Ski Resort on July 7 “went well,” said Josh Palmer, Big White’s communications manager.

“The weather held out and although the trails were a bit muddy, the sun shone for most of the day making for decent running conditions. There were a lot of racers in four different race lengths: five, 12, 22 and 50 kilometres. You can find all the results at racedaytiming.ca/results/2019MECKRace1-5k.”

Organizer Nathalie ‘Nat’ Long was off on another outdoor competition adventure this week but is looking for volunteers for future MEC events. You can email events.west@mec.ca or nathalie.long@mec.ca and note in your email if you have any mobility or access restrictions.

“If you have a passion for being outdoors and giving out some sweet high fives, then we would love to have you helping out our racers. This is also a great opportunity for students looking to volunteer for community service,” she said.

“You will be part of an amazing team that includes other volunteers and MEC staff. Volunteer shifts vary in length, but a minimum five hours is required. All volunteers will be awarded a complimentary entry into a 2019 MEC Kelowna Okanagan Trail Race event after they have successfully completed their volunteer shift. Shift details will be emailed three days (minimum) before the event.”


Next up at Big White Ski Resort is Freeride Days this weekend, said Josh Palmer, Big White’s communications manager.

“We have four days of bike competitions that will bring the best riders in the world. We have three slopestyle events (women’s, bronze, gold), a whip off, best trick and an Air DH race,” said. Details can be found at bigwhite.com/summer/


”Freeride Days is a big deal for a few reasons. This is the largest women’s specific event held (women’s slope style is new but not many places have supported it on this level). The bronze and gold events are sanctioned by the FMB (governing body for this discipline of mountain biking) where athletes can earn the critical points needed to move up in the rankings and qualify for the biggest diamond event at Crankworx in Whistler.”

There is only one other gold-sanctioned event in North America: Highlands Mountain Bike Park in the eastern U.S. — so riders come from all over the world.


Just Me and the Trees is a new regional parks’ program for those who want to be one with nature. To simply sit and be. To meditate beside a tree. To write in a nature journal. To listen to the music of the birds and the rustle of the wind. Or to create ephemeral art from found objects in the forest.

A Central Okanagan regional parks’ crew offers healing with nature sessions, activities such as journaling, creating ephemeral nature art and engaging in mindfulness practices. This program promises “an amazing opportunity to reconnect with nature — and yourself — under the warm Okanagan sun.”

The program is free but registration is required. It happens today

9-10:30 a.m. at Mill Creek Regional Park; July 21, 6-8 p.m. at Bertram Creek Regional Park (sunset session, the sun sets at 8:55 p.m.); and Aug. 11, 5-7 p.m. at Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park.

For more information or to register, contact the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan at 250-469-6140, email eeco@

cord.bc.ca or drop into the centre at 2363A Springfield Rd. in Mission Creek Regional Park.


Each Saturday through August, you can join an interactive treasure hunt called Geocaching at the EECO.

The whole family can get involved at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. You can borrow a GPS with a $5 deposit from the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan and search the forest in Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna for hidden geocaches. Pre-registration is required. For more information and to register, go to: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents, drop-in or call the EECO at 250-469-6140.


You can grab a backpack filled with equipment to discover the secrets of Mission Creek Regional Park in Kelowna this summer.

For a suggested $2 donation, sign out a Discovery Backpack at the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan. You can choose your adventure from the themes: Pond Exploration, Forest Walk, Mini Beasts, Geology and Kokanee. The EECO at Springfield and Durnin roads is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

For more information on this and other EECO programs, check out Your Guide to Regional Parks, go to the regional district website: regionaldistrict.com/parksevents or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.

J.P. Squire, aka the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff, is a retired reporter. Email: jp.squire@telus.net

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