I am delighted to welcome Gareth and John from Make Your Own Adventure to the blog this week. This dynamic duo have established their exciting and vibrant outdoor adventure company which mostly centres around canoeing and camp-craft activities and having experienced their canoeing sessions first-hand I can fully vouch for their expertise, boundless energy and enthusiasm to share their skills and passion for outdoor fun! As a family and along with a group of friends we have had several great experiences out on the water with them and an afternoon paddling guarantees a real sense of adventure and personal achievement as well as an excellent night’s sleep!
Gareth recalls how his love for all things outdoors was born…
“From a pretty young age I have been enjoying all that comes with being outdoors and making adventures…
…from an 8 year old boy building dens in the trees at my Grandmother’s house, through my teenage years being introduced to hillwalking and camping with the Boys’ Brigade and the Duke of Edinburgh program, it is fair to say that the seed had not only been planted in me young, but it had grown pretty strong roots throughout my life.
I worked for a summer in the US through Camp America primarily as a general councillor but there was something very appealing to me at the lakeside and in the canoes that were there. I quickly became friendly with both Heather and Max, the full-time canoe staff, and ended up being assigned to canoe duties most days, with several trips away down the Delaware river, my reward for the hard work I put in on the onsite Camp lake.
I came home from America and went on to do my mountain leader training, which I then put into force as the DofE Co-Ordinator and supervisor with my Boys’ Brigade that I had by then progressed through the ranks to role of Officer.”
Fast-forward 10 years or so and Gareth’s friendship with John was ignited through fellowship at their local church and having kids the same age meant they were able to enjoy some family-orientated adventures together and grow Make Your Own Adventure.
“We may have met through church but our friendship grew through our joint adventures in our canoes And, both being parents, John and I both had a passion for doing things safely while we were on the water. Safety equipment can be pretty expensive and although you shouldn’t be looking to spend pennies on something you can rely on for safety there are several bits of kit that can be made at home. With a sewing machine some material and rope John and I made-up our very first throw bags that we could use while we were on the water. These were admired by fellow members in the canoe club we had both joined and all of a sudden we were making some kit that our peers were using on the river. That is where the ‘Make Your Own’ comes from in our name.”
“Move on a couple more years and both John and myself had gone through coaching and leader awards and we were both pretty active within the canoe club, coaching juniors and getting out paddling regularly. By this stage a few other Boys’ Brigade companies were asking me about doing DofE in canoes and so I was getting a fair few young men (and occasional young lady) out regularly paddling and getting bitten by the outdoors bug.”
Gareth and John now offer lots of bespoke options during their adventure trips and love to do camp crafts such as spoon carving, hammocking, shelter building, knife work, woodcarving and para-cord bracelet making to name just a few…something to suit everyone!
“Life is hectic and we balance Make Your Own Adventure around both having full-time jobs. We both love being out exploring new places and getting people out there brings a superb feeling to us. We are now into our 4th year of offering coaching and guided trips and have been lucky that some of the young guys that have started with us a few years ago have progressed themselves through their canoe awards and are ever present when we are on the water. John’s eldest Daughter turns 14 in 2019 and that is the youngest age that you are able to go through leader awards, so looks like we will have another strong addition to our Make Your Own Adventure family.”
If you like the sound of joining Make Your Own Adventure to try your hand at paddling why not get in touch with Gareth and John to meet with them at one of their ‘Come and Try’ sessions held at the Loughshore on Friday evenings 6.30-7.30pm.
Check out their Facebook page to find out more about their coaching sessions, overnight camps or to arrange an adventure tailored to your group. The guys are only too willing to work with you to organise a day out on the water suited to your skills and confidence levels. They provide all equipment and safety gear and I have no hesitation in saying that once you’ve had a taster you’ll be itching to get back out on the water! It is so much FUN!