Good Life

Seniors connect with kayaking adventures

A group from the Bellefonte Senior Center Adventure Club’s kayaking program gets instruction at Bald Eagle State Park in 2015.
A group from the Bellefonte Senior Center Adventure Club’s kayaking program gets instruction at Bald Eagle State Park in 2015. Photo provided

Editor’s note: The following is part of the Active Life special section.

Ivy Woomer wishes she would have tried kayaking sooner, but an 80-year wait is better than never.

The 81-year-old from Howard Township joined the Bellefonte Senior Center Adventure Club’s kayaking program last summer, a decision she almost didn’t make.

“I had never done that before in my life. They asked me and I said, ‘Oh, I can’t even swim, and I don’t think I would try something like that,’ ” Woomer said. “They convinced me to try it.”

She told a few people about her soon-to-be adventure.

“When I talked to my daughter she said, ‘Mom, I hope you’re not doing anything crazy,’ ” Woomer said. “I told her they were going to give me a life jacket before I went out, and I loved it.”

Tribesmen hollowed out trees to make the first kayaks, which were used to navigate waterways and to ferry food and supplies. That practice has been replaced by thrill-seekers and people looking to get closer to nature.

The senior center’s group fits into the latter half. They sometimes are out on the water for two and a half hours.

“We had a beautiful day each time we went,” Woomer said. “I think when you’re out on the water and you’re with a small group you have time to take in the beauty of nature. I never imagined how peaceful and quiet it could be.”

Bellefonte Senior Center manager Vickey Confer said about 10 people participated in the kayaking program last year in Bald Eagle and Black Moshannon state parks. The senior center’s adventure club also offers opportunities for activities such as hiking, fishing and bird-watching.

“It’s been a lot of fun for everyone who tries it with us,” Confer said.

Anyone interested can visit the senior center at its new location at 110 N. Spring St., Bellefonte.

Kayaking, which will pick back up in the spring, gave Christa Nuytten, 69, a chance to be more active.

“It was my first chance to participate in something like this, and it’s good exercise,” Nuytten said. “I wasn’t really worried, because the people around us helped a lot, and it was pretty easy to catch on pretty fast.”

Nuytten said her favorite experience was night kayaking in Black Moshannon State Park.

“We went out around 8 o’clock and went down a mile and had a picnic,” Nuytten said. “We had a lot of good times. I didn’t hear anyone mention of any trouble doing it. I’m really looking forward to going again.”

They’ve also learned life lessons along the way.

“I think it teaches you, you can conquer new things in your life, things that you thought you’d never try to do,” Woomer said.

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli