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

  • An Overview of Pittsburgh City Parks

    March 28, 2017

    By: Grace Cooper 

    Besides being a beautiful city, Pittsburgh has some lovely parks maintained for us by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. So, as we make our way into spring, let’s take advantage of the beautiful recreation areas our city has to offer!  

    Emerald View Park 

    Emerald View Park is the place to get a good view of Pittsburgh. The 257-acre park is actually a combination of three older parks on Mount Washington, Grandview, and Olympia. The wooded hillsides are perfect for hiking, biking, walking—whatever suits your mood.

     » Read more about: An Overview of Pittsburgh City Parks  »

  • Venture Outdoors Youth Programs

    March 21, 2017

    How our team is impacting young lives around the city.

    By: Meg Taylor, Youth Program Intern

    Here at Venture Outdoors, we are known around the city of Pittsburgh as the people that get you outdoors. Whether we take you kayaking along the Allegheny River downtown, on a morning hike in Schenley Park, or cross country skiing at Kooser State Park, you’ll always find us doing something fun outdoors. In addition to the public programs you can find on our website  Activities Calendar, we have also found a way to work outdoors with youth in our local communities. 

     » Read more about: Venture Outdoors Youth Programs  »

  • Mount Washington- A Spring Ritual

    March 14, 2017

    By: David Paul

            

    It rises over everything around it, offering a commanding view of the landscapes that define its rugged region. Despite its steep, unforgiving slopes, tourists flock to it year round, ascending to the top by automobile, a special type of rail car, bicycling, and even using their own two feet. Mount Washington’s vistas offer anyone who makes it to its top a sense of accomplishment; it’s a place for families, friends, couples, and individuals to take in one of the best backdrops in the United States and offers a meaningful place for reflection,

     » Read more about: Mount Washington- A Spring Ritual  »

  • Trail Tails from Witch Doctor

    March 7, 2017

    By: Brian Beach, Youth Program Intern

    Virginia is absolutely the longest state on the Appalachian Trail. I might have had a beard during my 2005 Appalachian Trail thru-hike down in Georgia or Tennessee, but it became a “Grizzly Adams” beard in Virginia. I imagine there was a specific mountain where I snapped due to the solitude. (If so, it was probably Sassafras Mountain. There were at least four or five with that name.) The evolution of a thru-hiker from a “backpacker” to a “homeless person” is less obvious to those residing on the trail. Regardless, it was certainly in Virginia that I became a little more salty than usual.

     » Read more about: Trail Tails from Witch Doctor  »

  • Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward

    February 28, 2017

    By: Grace Eggleston, Communications Intern

    We are continuing our staff spotlight series. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes brain power that goes into planning your favorite programs, be it public, family-friendly, or custom outings. Learn about those who work inside so you can get outside.

    This week we’ll be interviewing Lora Woodward, our Program Director.

    1. Briefly tell us about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, and what brought you to Venture Outdoors? 

    I grew up in Harrisburg, PA on a four-acre property across from my grandparents’

     » Read more about: Getting to Know our Staff: Fifteen Questions with… Lora Woodward  »

Kayak Pittsburgh

Get your 2017 Season Pass!

Kayak Pittsburgh North Shore and North Park open Saturday May 6!
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Featured Outing

 Spring Wildflower Walk
Sunday, April 30
10 AM – 1 PM

Join local ecologist Henry Schumacher for a tour of one of the most vibrant local spring wildflower patches here in Southwestern PA. We will take in the fleeting beauty of this annual natural wildflower display and discuss the ecology of wildflowers and their role in the ecosystem.

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