Venture Outdoors vs. Florida Outfitter

By: Nancy Latimer

Venture Outdoors may be a nonprofit with volunteer Trip Leaders, but it’s not a rinky dink operation. Venture Outdoors has rigorous training to ensure that all Trip Leaders follow the same format including the planning, the introduction, the safety, and the experience. Recently, I was on vacation in southwest Florida and went on an Everglades kayak tour with a commercial outfitter. Many of the Venture Outdoors checklist items were the same as my Everglades trip, but Venture Outdoors covered things more thoroughly. I was impressed that Venture Outdoors trips are on par or better! Read on for the details.

I booked a three-hour Everglades kayaking tour with a reputable outfitter. They had excellent reviews on Trip Advisor. The trip cost three times the cost of a similar Venture Outdoors kayak trip. Like Venture Outdoors, it was a fully supported trip with the guide and her assistant. She supplied all the necessary equipment, kayaks, and PFDs. She also supplied water and snacks which is not a requirement for Venture Outdoors trips, but which many Leaders provide. So far, score one for Venture Outdoors for an economical price.

When I booked the trip, the owner was very responsive and gave detailed instructions on what to wear, what to bring, and what to expect. Like going on an outing with Venture Outdoors, I felt very prepared. We met at a nearby park and caravanned to the launch site. The guide introduced the trip with a map. No safety talk or paddle talk, although the four participants had kayak experience. No medical talk (I’m attentive to this since I have a severe bee allergy and carry an Epipen.) No introductions of participants. Being the Venture Outdoors person, I am I had introduced myself. Score three for Venture Outdoors, for the safety talk, the paddle talk, and the introductions.

We launched without incident into a calm pond with gators floating here and there, eyeing us. The sun was just rising, the water was like glass, and the birds were waking up. It was spectacular. There was some safety talk on the water as we met alligators. The guide stopped often to give facts and introduce the next section. This was similar to Venture Outdoors trips. Volunteer Trip Leaders are very knowledgeable. TIE!

We paddled through the mangroves, passing beautiful flora and fauna specimens. The Everglades has the largest population of bromeliads in North America and our trip didn’t disappoint. These are commonly known as “airplants” at the local Home Depot. My favorite thing was the mirror-like reflections of the vibrant greenery on the glassy water, magnificent. The Outfitter was great at identifying everything, giving history, and taking photos. As a Trip Leader I always try to take photos, but with all my responsibilities, I struggle. Thankfully Venture Outdoors has started adding a photographer on trips. That’s a plus for me (and you.) Score one for the Outfitter.

We ended the trip on time and the Outfitter sent us copies of her photos. Venture Outdoors often posts them on the Flickr site, but not quite as user friendly. Score one for the Outfitter.

In conclusion, Venture Outdoors is as professional an outdoor experience as a commercial Outfitter at a much better price!

 

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OUTDOOR News

  • Rediscovering Nature beneath the Soles of My Sneakers

    May 16, 2017

    By: Cheyenne Knight

    When I signed up for my first half marathon, I vowed to train entirely outdoors. I knew that climbing on a treadmill day after day to stare at the same patch of grass, the same residence hall, and the same students walking to class for four months of training would take all the fun out of it.

    So I vowed to train outdoors, even if that meant enduring weather that I never ran in and exploring parts of Pittsburgh that I never saw before. I took it as an opportunity to challenge myself mentally, physically,

     » Read more about: Rediscovering Nature beneath the Soles of My Sneakers  »

  • A Letter from a Kayak Pittsburgh Supervisor

    May 9, 2017

    By: Neal Monaghan

    Well opening day wasn’t what we were hoping for – the weather forced us to remain closed. We’re thinking positive thoughts about this upcoming weekend, hoping the Pittsburgh weather cooperates so yinz can get on the water! Kayak Pittsburgh will be open on weekends only until the season kicks into gear on Memorial Day. Our North Park and North Shore locations will be open in May, and the Aspinwall Riverfront Park location will follow shortly after the season gets up and running. This is an exciting time for staff, Venture Outdoors members, and our casual customers.  

     » Read more about: A Letter from a Kayak Pittsburgh Supervisor  »

  • 2017 Season

    May 2, 2017

    Kayak Pittsburgh 2017 Season

    We are just a few days away from the start of our 2017 Kayak Pittsburgh season and we can’t wait to see you on the water! We pride ourselves in giving you the best customer service, instruction, and on-water experience in the ‘Burgh so over the last few months we’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for our best summer yet! Remember to follow us on social media for all of the latest information on weather conditions, hours, and promotions.

    Kayaking1

    Check out what’s new this year!

     » Read more about: 2017 Season  »

  • My Favorite Venture Outdoors Outings

    April 25, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    As an intern at Venture Outdoors I am able to participate in a lot of awesome outings. Over the past eight months I have tried just about everything from long distance hikes and wakeup paddles to geocaching and nature photography walks. (The cool thing, though, is that after all this time there are still programs I have yet to try!)

    I count myself lucky that I get to go on these outings and take pictures of all the awesome people I meet and the exciting things we see along the way.

     » Read more about: My Favorite Venture Outdoors Outings  »

  • Favorites from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

    April 18, 2017

    By: Grace Cooper

    Whether a comedy, a thriller, or a heartwarming film, there was something for everyone at this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. 

     

    This year was my first festival — and definitely not my last. I’ve seen my share of outdoor adventure documentaries, but these films were different. They weren’t just educational; they told a story. As a volunteer at the event, I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people at the festival about their favorite films of the weekend. So, although all the films were absolutely incredible,

     » Read more about: Favorites from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Get your 2017 Season Pass!

All three locations open this weekend, May 27-28.

Featured Outing

 Washington Whiskey Walk
Sunday, May 21
12 – 3 PM

Join us for a day in Washington, PA. We’ll start with an easy walk through Washington & Jefferson College Campus Arboretum with Dr. Jason Kilgore while learning about the arboretum and trees role in the historic whiskey making process. Afterward, we’ll visit Liberty Pole Spirits, Washington’s newest distillery for a tour and tasting.

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