Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Better together — Club members share interest in outdoor
By Clark Fair
When Steve Foley came to the Kenai Peninsula from Colorado in the early 1990s, he knew he wanted to meet people with interests similar to his — namely outdoor recreation — and he had an idea how to find them.
In Colorado, Foley had been part of a recreation club, a group dedicated to the idea of shared experiences in the great outdoors. On the central peninsula, he figured, the time was ripe for such an organization.
Steve Ford, who moved to the peninsula from Sitka in 1991, said that Foley (who left the state nine years ago) started putting flyers up around town, and in 1992 Ford noticed and decided to get involved.
Ford attended the fledgling organization’s second meeting, held at the Little Ski-Mo restaurant in Kenai, and it quickly became apparent that the Kenai Peninsula Outdoor Club was just what he’d been looking for.
According to Ford, “90 percent of the reason (the club) got started” was Foley’s desire to avoid the bars and other usual gathering places in his attempt to find individuals with common interests. Ford and Foley quickly bonded, and they and Dave Crosby became the founding trio of the club.
Membership built slowly. Their monthly meeting place, where they plan the next month’s calendar of events, changed occasionally. And some people moved into the area, participated for a while, and moved away, but a core of devotees remained.
Today, the club has about 60 members who receive an e-mailed event calendar each month and are encouraged to participate in activities ranging from simple to more intense during all four seasons of the year.
In August alone, the club’s calendar included a kayaking trip to Caines Head in Seward, a twice-weekly walk at Tsalteshi Trails, golfing at the Kenai Golf Course, biking trips to Crescent Lake and Resurrection Pass, a beach-side bonfire and hikes to Hope Point and the Harding Ice Field.
Throughout the year, group members have also skied, snowshoed, played disc golf, explored new places, done overnight camp-outs, gone rafting, extreme tubing and canoeing, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.
“We try to offer something for everybody,” said Todd Stone, a club member since 1995.
A highlight each year is Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Stone and his wife, Jan. According to several club members, this is often the best-attended function of the year.
“We’ve got a really good group of people who really jelled together,” Stone said. “And we come together like a family. A lot of us are from someplace else, and here we have family outside our family.”
According to Stone, the age of club members ranges from early 20s into 60s. The average age of those who participate most actively, he estimated, is about 45 to 55, partly because the core of early members were 30-somethings back then and have “moved though it altogether.”
The club now meets at the Albatross Restaurant at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. Although club officers — Paul Knight, president; Todd Stone, secretary; Steve Epperheimer, treasurer — run the meeting, all club members are encouraged to attend and bring ideas for activities.
For each activity that goes on the calendar, the club adds a meeting site and the name of a person who will lead that activity. Then, according to Stone, “whether one person shows up or we’ve got 15 to 20, it’s a go.”
Anyone interested in joining the club can call Todd or Jan Stone at 283-8426. Membership costs $15 for an individual, $20 for a family. The dues go to help defray the cost of expenses, such as renting a condo for a weekend ski trip, making the experience “more doable” for everybody, Jan Stone said.
In addition to the monthly calendars, members also receive Todd Stone’s weekly updates that inform them of events added since the calendar came out.
The club also tries to help members who may not have all the gear necessary to participate. Ford said that many club members lend some of their extra gear to make sure all participants are dressed and outfitted properly.
Photographs from recent club activities can be found in an online photo album created by Ford’s wife, Tracie Howard. The Web address for the album is http://kpocak.myphotoalbum.com/albums.php