The Golden Years. For many, they are golden, for others, not so much. With the physical body and mind not being as fit as they used to be, once loved activities like getting on the water used to be simply about memories. Lake of the Woods Senior Boating is doing their best to change that. A local non-profit has been working to rekindle boating for seniors across the Lake of the Woods region for the past 14 years, brining happiness and joy to many of our finest throughout the northland.
As you might have guessed, the organization is made up of volunteers from the area simply wanting to bring joy to those in their senior years, persons with special needs and veterans.
This Lake of the Woods Senior Boating group has been around for 14 years and is quite organized for training for volunteers on everything from how to properly maintain and dock the large pontoon set up with sidewalls to safety and first aid. The Lake of the Woods Senior Boating Mission: To promote seasonal boating, sightseeing and fishing opportunities for area seniors, persons with special needs and veterans.
The goals of Lake of the Woods Senior Boating: To provide free boating opportunities and to promote healthy outdoor activities among the elderly, persons with special needs and veterans and to encourage intergenerational contact between our target population, their families and friends.
As mentioned, there are a number of volunteers. Currently, there are 30 drivers and first mates helping guests enjoy 26-30 trips per year on the Rainy River.
The majority of the trips are sightseeing trips. Some of the trips include fishing as well. The boat departs from Baudette and depending upon the wind will sometimes go upstream, sometimes downstream towards Four Mile Bay. Sometimes the route depends upon the requests of the guests on board.
One of the volunteers for the organization is Dennis Topp. “This community across the Lake of the Woods region is so generous. When the organization was started, we had nothing. It took us only four months to raise the money to purchase our pontoon boat and get rolling. Local governments, companies and individuals really stepped up to make this happen. That was really amazing.”
“The first passenger who stepped aboard our boat when we began hadn’t been on the Rainy River for 50 years. It was very touching for her as well as all of us.”
As mentioned in their mission, the group has taken out groups of veterans and persons with special needs as well. They also do special groups such as a class reunion coming back to Baudette over the 4th of July. Getting people out to enjoy the water is the goal and many have benefited from the group.
As many things this past year, the trips had to be put on hold due to COVID. This week trips resumed after a long break. “This is almost a symbol for many of that COVID is starting to get better. This is the first trip since 2019 and really provides many of us healing for our souls,” explains Topp. The group follows the CDC guidelines for COVID
safety protocols for all staff and guests.
The group has also taken out seniors from across the border from the senior center in Rainy River, Ontario. “We pull the pontoon up right across the river at their city dock. It is really neat as the senior center is only a block away and they simply wheel seniors down the street to the dock one by one. As you can imagine, these seniors also have a strong attachment to the water. There was so much great history they shared from their perspective, things we had never heard before. Lots of excitement.”
As the saying goes, often times when you give to others, you receive more in return. Kudos to all who donate their time, talent and gifts for this wonderful organization.
If you are interested in working with Lake of the Woods Senior Boating with your group or if you are interested in donating to their cause, please contact Arvid Jaranson at 218-634-1804 or Bill Mouw at 218-634-2815.