Creating and Developing an Outdoors Community
One of the reasons I started a hiking group a few years ago is to bring like minded folks together as a community. Since moving from Calgary a few years ago, I’ve met with other newcomers and travelers who often complain that Vancouver can be a ‘cold’ city for people not born and raised here. Regardless of the validity of that argument I’ve decided to do something about it, being inspired from similar social groups like Vancouver Young Professionals (now known as Ripple Effect).
The idea of creating a social network focused on the outdoors is in itself a novel idea. One of the challenges I discovered moving to Vancouver is that there seems to be a dichotomy of people who are either crazy outdoorsy fitness freaks and those whose idea of hiking is climbing stairs in their homes (ie couch potatoes). Living in a beautiful city and province, I’ve noticed many locals don’t take advantage of what nature has to offer. Due to the dichotomy, many don’t bother venturing outdoors as they’re too self-conscious about ‘beating everyone’s Grouse Grind time’ or running marathons when they’re not in a condition – both physically and mentally – for such extraneous efforts.
Through events organized for the hiking group and led by experienced hikers, we get to enjoy the outdoors while slowly conditioning our bodies. Starting with easy, short hikes in the beginning of summer, our schedule of hikes grow in intensity and duration. Not everyone can go from a walk around Stanley Park to hiking the summit of Panorama Ridge in one summer; however, they can go a long way to achieving that goal slowly while having fun with friends. And that’s the most important thing!
After creating and developing a network of outdoor enthusiasts (some of whom end up becoming good friends and companions), our next focus is to give something back. As the group is entirely run on a voluntary basis, with no admin fees collected, all proceeds after expenses go to a charity of our choice. This year, we’re raising funds for the homeless in downtown eastside through an initiative I co-founded and ran for almost 4 years now: Feed the Hungry. Instead of spending money in personal trainers and gyms (which has its benefits), we encourage people to donate towards a worthwhile cause and learn to hike in a safe and fun environment.