You’re never too old to learn something new.
Deirdre Way, a retired high school teacher and special education facilitator in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, is inspiring others to get moving and exploring the great outdoors each and every week.
It’s a morning playdate where Way and her growing group of grown-up explorers meet in the Metro Vancouver area for “Adventure Tuesdays”.
“The adventure part came from the fact that, although we loved walking and hiking, we wanted to challenge ourselves to try new activities,” she explains.
What started two years ago with a core group of six friends hiking and biking has evolved into upwards of 40 women trying out line dancing, snow shoeing, curling, skating, rock climbing, and even belly dancing.
The adventure-seekers, ranging in age from 50- to 80-years-old, come from varying levels of fitness and expertise. Many have led very active working lives, but didn’t have the chance to pursue a variety of active activities before this group.
For Way, this means everyone has become a role model, not just for their families (Way’s grandson is an active toddler), but within the group. Each person brings some sort of interest in a particular area of athleticism. Some are recreational hikers, others competitive paddlers, but at some point, everyone is trying a new activity for the first time and looking to their peers for guidance and encouragement.
“Many of us find it easier to do activities — that would normally be out of our comfort zone— if we can do it with others,” she explains.
For Way, the most memorable excursions are those that take them into their own backyards — in areas where that they haven’t yet explored or wouldn’t want to go solo.
“There are cougars and bears up behind where I live,” she says. “I am not going to go there by myself but when I am in a group of five people, it’s not a problem.”
The weekly events run rain or shine and it’s the strong sense of camaraderie and support — whatever the fitness level — that motivates everyone to participate.
“We’ve not only gained physical strength, developed new skills, and improved upon skills we already had, but we’ve also gained and maintained social connections and friendships,” she explains. “And the conversation on the trail is invigorating.”
Way attributes the ongoing success of “Adventure Tuesdays” to the fact that there are very few rules and new participants are always welcome. (They often pick up email addresses along the trail.)
The main goal remains to stay active and enjoy a new experience. Proof: on one particularly rainy day, the group donned goggles and snorkels during a walk over a bridge from Maple Ridge to Langley.
“It made that miserable day more fun.”