Outdoor Adventures: Hub City launches new program

By HASKEL BURNS,

During the past year or so, officials from Hattiesburg’s Parks and Recreation Department have been looking into ways to expand their offerings, recently adding programs such as kickball and community gardens.

In their efforts, they may have found the perfect initiative for outdoors types: “Outdoor Adventures,” a new four-event program that focuses on activities such as hiking and camping. 

“The idea behind it was, we really wanted to offer a program to people that are not as sports-minded, but who still like to be active and get outdoors and explore the nature that Hattiesburg and Mississippi have to offer,” Innovative Programs Coordinator Kristen Nooe said. “The really interesting thing is that we’re hitting a demographic that we’ve never hit before. 

“That’s been a lot of fun, because we’ve really tried to branch out and make sure that we’re serving all the citizens of Hattiesburg, which was the idea of this program.”

The first event, a Guided Tour of Black Creek Hiking Trails, will be held from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28. The tour will be led by Brent Holifield, who manages Southern Miss Outdoor Adventures, with another guide to teach participants about native plants on the trail.

Participants will meet Holifield in the parking lot of the Ben McNair Recreation Center, 300 North 12th Ave. in Hattiesburg, before departing for the creek in Brooklyn. Registration for the event is $25 per person and can be paid via check or money order at the recreation center. Attendees must be 18 years of age or older as of April 1.

The second event, Kayaking 101, will be held twice: from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. May 11 and June 8 at the Ben McNair pool. Holifield, who is a Level II certified paddling instructor, also will teach this course.

Participants will learn kayaking safety, paddling techniques and a variety of other kayaking tricks to make them feel more confident in open water. There is a $15 registration fee for the kayaking events, which can be paid at the center, and participants must be at least 18 years of age.

“That’s for people who have always been interested in kayaking, but they’re a little nervous to do it,” Nooe said. “This is in a controlled environment in the pool, and (Holifield) will go over paddling techniques like if you were going down Black Creek, or for open water, because that can be a bit more intimidating than if you’re going to the ocean and trying to kayak.”

That will be followed by Camping 101, which also will be held twice: from 10 a.m.-noon May 18 at Kamper Park, and 10 a.m.-noon June 22 at Town Square Park. Participants must be at least 14 years old for the camping events, which have a registration fee of $10.

“That’s going to include everything from how to set up a tent to how to light a fire without a lighter,” Noee said.

The outdoor series will conclude with a Red Bluff Guided Hike from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 20. Led by Holifield, participants will explore the Red Bluff area, identify native plants and take part in other activities. This hike is suitable for moderate-to-advanced skill level, as it is a bit more strenuous than the Black Creek hike.

All participants must be at least 18 years old and the registration fee is $25.

To register for any of the events, visit http://cityofhpr.siplay.com, or to see the full schedule of events, visit www.hattiesburgms.com/parksandrec. Nooe can be reached at (601) 467-7879 for registration information.