Kayak like an Egyptian

The Y’s Tango Adventure Race was held a few weeks ago and Penny and I were in the Rimrock parking lot awaiting instructions for manning a checkpoint on the wild and crazy event’s orienteering segment. A car pulled in and we assumed the two women were preparing to man another checkpoint. Turns out they were visitors.

We asked where they were from and learned that the Mom and daughter just came from Egypt! The Mom had been there for 25 years and the daughter was born there.

Get this: they had been in Philly the day before and were on their way to Boston to visit a college since the daughter was looking to get a PhD in occupational therapy. They found out about our region through the Allegheny Outfitters website and decided to take a detour and enjoy the scenery which was quite different from what they were accustomed to in Egypt. When they got to The Outfitters, they were told that all the kayaks were reserved in the morning, mostly for the Tango, so they decided to hike the Rimrock-to-Kinzua Beach ’til they could pick up kayaks in the afternoon.

For some reason this story, which happened on a day when hundreds of people were participating in the Tango, running, biking, swimming orienteering, and kayaking, or helping others do those things, reminded me of a recent post on the Facebook page “You grew up in Warren County if.” A person said “I left Warren because there was nothing for kids to do.”

I’ve heard this lament many, many times. “There’s nothing to do here.” My translation is: “There aren’t enough people/things to entertain me and satisfy my minutes-long attention span.” It’s this passive “entertain me” mindset that somehow allows people to ignore what’s going on and what they could do with a more active mindset.

Nothing to do? Here’s a partial list: The Y has programs for everyone and you don’t have to be super athlete to take part. There are softball, golf, bowling, and trap leagues for everyone, including high school students. Running rEvolution coaches women on running sports. Hundreds take part in youth soccer, Girl and Boy Scouting, and dozens of 4-H clubs and activities.

Bikers make loops all over the county every week. There are playgrounds at schools and in parks all over the place. There’s the skate park at Beaty Field. There are tennis, basketball, and bocce courts at Betts Park and some being refurbished at Beaty. There’s the bike/walking path from Warren’s north side to the Arboretum at the apex of Rt. 62 and North State Street. Did you know there’s a brochure that details a walking tour and nature study in Crescent Park? Upstairs at the corner of PA Ave. and Hickory there’s a radio-controlled car racetrack. There’s a new fitness park in the park near 4th and Hickory.

Then there are the classes at Allegheny Center for the Arts and Allegheny Community Center. There’s the Library Theater’s plays, concerts, and movies. Add Warren Players, Jack-in-the-Box Players, Youth Connection, Festival of the Arts, and Barbershoppers: their activities accommodate performers and all kinds of backstage activities: stage crew, building sets, playing in pit bands. There are jam sessions at The Crossing and the Allegheny Community Center plus the Elks Club Band and the Warren Civic Orchestra.

The Warren Public Library and other libraries throughout the county are tremendous resources where many educational programs happen. The Hi-Ed Council and other educational institutions offer self improvement and special interest courses.

Consider The Exchange Club, Zonta, Kiwanis, The Women’s Club, Odd Fellows, Rotary, the Garden Club, The Lions Club, The Elks, The Moose, Shriners, Volunteer Fire Departments, the VFW, the American Legion, and the Marine Corps League all offer social encounters and service opportunities.

Fishing and hunting are part of our culture. Cross country skiing is fun and great exercise. Chapman State Park offers year-round activities including educational programs. There are many trails and waterways for hiking, and canoeing all over our area, just check the Chapman or Allegheny National Forest offices.

Nearly every town in the county has some kind of festival. The Warren County Fair is a fantastic event. There are footraces and golf tournaments almost every weekend. The Women’s Outdoor Workshops (WOW!) happen every spring.

And there’s all the school and church-related stuff. I’ll bet I left plenty off this list, too.

Nothing to do? Most evenings and weekends active people have to decide which great activity to do from among all the options!

Remember the women visiting from Egypt? We shared their story with a friend who lives on the river and he said: “Do you know where they are? I have kayaks they can borrow!” This is typical of our wonderful community. Not only are there lots of things to do around here, there are also lots of wonderful people to help you do them.

Gary Lester directs Leadership Warren County, a nine-month curriculum to bring caring, community-minded people together to improve the economic vitality and quality of life in Warren County. Find out more at www.leadershipwarrencounty.org.