Zoar Outdoor Receives Entrepreneur of the Year Award
May 17, 2013 (comments: 0)
For Immediate Release
Greenfield, MA -- The Franklin County Community Development Corporation awarded the 3rd Annual Haas Entrepreneur Award to Zoar Outdoor, honoring businesses in the county that drive the economy and give back to the community. This year’s award focused on innovation and sustainability, according to the CDC, which this year selected its winner from 15 nominees. The award is named for the late Richard Haas, who developed Hillside Plastics and was CDC board member. Mass State representative, Paul Mark presented a certificate of congratulations to Zoar Outdoor on behalf of the Massachusetts House of Representative. Bruce Lessels and Karen Blom, the company founders were honored in a ceremony at the Shea Theatre this past week.
“We want to recognize all entrepreneurs in the area, and we’re focused on innovation,” said CDC Executive Director John Waite, who added that Zoar Outdoor was selected partially because of its longevity and partly for its nimbleness in looking ahead to see what its customers might want.
Zoar Outdoor has a long tradition of community involvement and supporting local events and organizations. Lessels has served on the board of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, the Academy at Charlemont, and Double Edge Theatre. Blom has served on the board of the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association, been a member of the Buckland Finance Committee and has been a deacon at Charlemont Federated Church.
Zoar Outdoor was founded in 1989 with 3 employees offering kayaking instruction and rafting. After 24 years the business has grown to 150 seasonal employees, 10 full time managers and in addition to rafting and kayaking, now offers zip lining, guided kayak rentals, rock climbing lessons, retail sales, lodging and camping on-site.
2013 Spring Whitewater Rafting
February 1, 2013 (comments: 0)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARLEMONT, MA - When spring warms the air each April, eager adventurers pull on river gear and jump on the whitewater rivers of Massachusetts. Long cherished by paddlers for its high water, spring is a great time for everyone to take advantage of the whitewater excitement offered only during this short season. Zoar Outdoor, a whitewater rafting outfitter in western Massachusetts, runs two unique spring rivers that capture the thrill of the season while offering great opportunities to get outdoors and experience adventure.
Two hours west of Boston, the Millers River offers a big water rush on class III and IV rapids that culminate at its confluence with the Connecticut River in the scenic French King Gorge. The Millers has a long history of providing hydropower to the region’s industry and it’s not unusual to glimpse old structures through the trees as you raft down the long, rolling rapids. This trip is ideally suited for school groups, scout groups and other adventurers over the age of 12.
Henry David Thoreau portaged around them, but whitewater rafters now run the rapids of The Concord River, a half-day urban whitewater adventure just 30 minutes from Boston in the town of Lowell, Mass. The Concord offers a unique urban rafting trip on class III and IV rapids with fun play and surfing spots and a special treat at the end when rafters pass through an 1850’s lock chamber as the trip finishes in the center of Lowell.
Rafting Manager, Brian Pytko loves spring rafting for the opportunities it provides to get on new rivers at interesting levels. “When you see each stream you pass by feeding its flow into the main river, you get the sense that you’re riding nature’s roller coaster. I love the energy of the water and the chance to plug into the excitement of the changing seasons.”
No previous rafting experience is needed for either of these trips, only a willingness to paddle hard and have fun on the water. Millers River trips run during the first two weeks in April, and trips on the Concord are run in conjunction the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust on weekends during April and as late into May as water levels allow. A portion of Concord River whitewater rafting proceeds supports the work of the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust to protect land along the Concord River.
Hawk Mountain Lodge Offers Winter Ski and Stay Packages
January 3, 2013 (comments: 0)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARLEMONT, MA - With winter hitting its stride, Berkshire East Ski Resort and the Hawk Mountain Lodge at Zoar Outdoor are teaming up to help skiers afford a getaway. Through the Ski and Stay program, each guest staying at Hawk Mountain Lodge, just ¼ mile from Berkshire East, gets $10 off a lift ticket at the ski resort for each night of their stay. Additionally, winter rates at Hawk Mountain Lodge represent a 20% discount over normal rates.
Facing the Deerfield River, and with their backs to the hills of the Berkshires, Zoar Outdoor and Berkshire East are both family owned companies in Charlemont, Massachusetts. The Hawk Mountain Lodge can trace its history back over two hundred years, and was once the home of Charles Dudley Warner. The building which was once a farmhouse providing shelter from the New England winters to a family now opens up its updated rooms to travelers hoping to take advantage of the snow.
Zoar Outdoor’s Hawk Mountain Lodge offers comfortable accommodations in five rooms, with rates starting at just $60 per night. Philip May, the friendly lodging manager, is available to help guests check in and answer any questions. For more information on the Hawk Mountain Lodge’s history, seeA Peek at Hawk Mountain Lodge in the 1800s. For more information on the lodge,click here.
Press Contact: Adriana Isaza, Marketing Assistant
Zoar Outdoor and The Nature Conservancy Protect Trees through Partnership
August 5, 2012 (comments: 0)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHARLEMONT, MA – This past Tuesday, for the second year in a row, Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort hosted program interns from The Nature Conservancy’sLeaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) on a zipline canopy tour. Zoar Outdoor and The Nature Conservancy have maintained a unique partnership to protect America’s forests.
Zoar Outdoor supports the Conservancy’sDon’t Move Firewood campaign, a multimedia outreach effort to educate the public on the issue of non-native forest insects and diseases that are wreaking havoc on trees in all regions of the United States. In the Massachusetts forests, the newest and most prominent threats to trees are the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer. These invasive insects cannot be controlled by spray or treatment once they reach the forest, and so the Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign seeks to raise awareness about a common method of insect transport within the US - as hitchhikers on firewood. When people transport firewood further than 50 miles for camping trips or heating homes, tree-killing pests can get a ride to a new place, where they cause new infestations.
As part of the partnership between Zoar Outdoor and the Nature Conservancy, six New York City teens participating in the Conservancy’s (LEAF) program in western Massachusetts participated in Zoar’s zipline canopy tour, gaining new perspective on the ecological importance of trees. The LEAF program, now in its 18th year, has a mission to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so that they will become stewards for our planet tomorrow. A recent survey of LEAF alumni found that the students are far more likely than their peers to engage in environmental issues as adults.
Zoar Outdoor’s partnership with the Conservancy is consistent with their core values, since they prioritize environmental stewardship. Zoar Outdoor generates electricity from solar panels to offset 80% of the company’s total usage, offers incentives for employees to commute to work using “human-powered” means, and plans thoughtfully to minimize environmental impact in all their endeavors. Their three-hour zipline canopy tour, which travels down scenic Hawk Mountain on eleven zip lines, three rappels and two sky bridges, involved arborists throughout the construction process and makes use of existing trails to minimize forest impact. Zoar Outdoor continues to consult with arborists during the course’s regular maintenance, ensuring the continued health of the forest.
Learn more about the Don’t Move Firewood campaign at www.dontmovefirewood.org and the LEAF program at http://www.nature.org/aboutus/careers/leaf/. More information on Zoar Outdoor’s zipline canopy tours can be found at www.deerfieldzipline.com.
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.
Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort has been offering family-friendly outdoor adventures along the Deerfield River in the culturally-rich Berkshire Hills of western, Massachusetts since 1989. Family owned, the company offers a wide variety of human-powered adventures for all ages from April through October. Zoar has a reputation for excellent customer service, environmental concern and developing a community around people who like to play outdoors.
Zoar Outdoor: Meghan Ecceline, Marketing Assistant
The Nature Conservancy: Misty Edgecomb, Senior Media Relations Manager
Zoar Outdoor Named “Best Outdoor Adventure" by Republican
July 2, 2012 (comments: 0)
Charlemont, MA - Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort is proud to have been named “Best Outdoor Adventure” for the 2012 Republican/Masslive “Reader Raves.” Reader Raves is a new twice-yearly feature by Masslive.com and The Republican wherein readers vote for local favorites in 100 categories. Bruce Lessels and Karen Blom, co-owners of Zoar Outdoor, accepted the award at a celebratory event at the Log Cabin in Holyoke last Wednesday.
Zoar Outdoor provides a wide variety of opportunities for guests, including whitewater rafting, zipline canopy tours, whitewater kayak and canoe instruction, rock climbing, and mountain bike rentals, along with lodging options that include the Hawk Mountain Lodge, cabin tents, and campsites.
In past years, Zoar Outdoor has twice won Yankee Magazine’s “Best of New England/Editors Choice Awards.” In 2011, Zoar Outdoor was named “Best Place to Raft” and in 2010, they were awarded the accollade, “Best Place to Soar”.
Click here to read the complete “Reader Raves" article on Masslive.com.
Zoar Outdoor Hosts River Cleanup
May 7, 2012 (comments: 0)
Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort is hosting a river cleanup on the Deerfield River on May 19th and 20th. The river cleanup is free and open to the public, and participants save 50% on tickets to the Reel Paddling Film Festival on the evening of the 19th. The river cleanup is part of the Deerfield River Rally, which also includes a paddling workshop and the film festival.
Flooding from Irene in the fall moved some rocks and gravel bars on the Deerfield River when water levels rose to over 100,000 cfs, nearly a hundred times normal summer levels, causing widespread flooding. Irene also scoured trash and debris from upriver and deposited some of it along the banks downstream. The river cleanup will focus on the section of the Deerfield below Fife Brook Dam. Cleanup will be primarily land-based and is open to all ages.
Zoar Outdoor prioritizes river stewardship and is affiliated with such organizations as the Deerfield River Watershed Association and American Whitewater. This is an official National River Cleanup event. More information about the Deerfield River Rally is available on the website, and people interested in participating in the river cleanup should email email@example.com. Participants are welcome one or both days of the cleanup.
Zoar Outdoor Offers Mothers Day and Fathers Day Promotions
April 20, 2012 (comments: 0)
Zoar Outdoor is offering adventure deals for Mothers Day and Fathers Day. On Sunday, May 13th, mothers raft or zip free with two paying family members. On Sunday, June 17th, fathers raft or zip free with two paying family members. These promotions can be used for either the zipline canopy tour or for Zoar Gap rafting, two of the most popular adventures at Zoar Outdoor.
The zipline canopy tour is a three-hour tour through the forest canopy. It includes eleven zip lines, three rappels, and two sky bridges. This tour is suitable for ages 10 and up (with some weight restrictions). Spring ziplining is popular because while the weather is warm, the budding foliage doesn't hinder views of the valley.
The Zoar Gap rafting trip is an ideal trip for beginner rafters and is suitable for ages 7 and up. This trip begins at the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield River and includes many class II whitewater rapids and one class III rapid. The ten-mile trip includes a picnic-style lunch. Spring rafting is some of the most inexpensive rafting of the season, and the dam-released Deerfield river ensures quality whitewater.
Zoar Outdoor has been operating adventure tours since 1989.
Zoar Outdoor Recovers From Irene With New Barn, River Rally
March 27, 2012 (comments: 0)
Zoar Outdoor was one of many businesses affected by the damaging floods from Hurricane Irene last August, but they’ve rebuilt over the winter and are looking forward to the upcoming season with renewed enthusiasm. While the Deerfield River washed away a building and equipment last fall, Zoar Outdoor is planning an event in celebration of the river, recognizing that, except for these rare, destructive events, it is the lifeblood of the community and of their business.
The raft barn that washed away was already a second-generation building, having been rebuilt in the 1970s after burning down (its original purpose was to store propane tanks). Zoar Outdoor has used the barn to store rafting equipment such as PFDs (life jackets), helmets, paddles, pumps, throw ropes, generators and all the miscellaneous gear that goes along with rafting operations. Almost immediately after the storm, the company began planning for the barn’s replacement. Construction continued throughout the winter, and the barn officially opened for use on March 9th. The new barn is built to withstand more severe weather than the previous structure, and also designed with ease of use in mind, allowing guests to get their equipment in an orderly traffic pattern.
Zoar Outdoor is also hosting the Deerfield River Rally on May 19-20 to kick off the season with an event of celebration and stewardship. They want to emphasize the benefits that the Deerfield has brought to this community, including providing hydroelectric power, recreation for boaters and fishermen, and wildlife habitat. The two-day event will combine a river clean-up with a kayaking refresher clinic and culminate in the Reel Paddling Film Festival to be held at the Warfield House in Charlemont on Saturday night.
Zoar Outdoor Reaches 2000 Miles of Human-Powered Commuting
December 19, 2011 (comments: 0)
For the second year in a row, Zoar Outdoor's "Commuting to Work" Campaign has reached its goal of inspiring employees to commute to work using human-powered means, doubling last year's total to reach 2000 miles. This past April, the staff of Zoar Outdoor were issued a challenge to leave their cars at home for the trip to work and power their own commute. The company offered $20 gift certificates to the West End Pub in Shelburne Falls for every 100 miles a staff member accumulated. Ten staff members achieved this goal. Zoar Outdoor also awarded three custom-designed bike shirts to employees who reached 250 miles: Amber Tulloch, Shahid Jalil, and Kevin McMillan. While most of those how participated in the challenge chose to run, walk or ride bike to work, a few used their kayaks for the daily commute. Through the collective effort of many employees, Zoar Outdoor completed their 2000-mile challenge on November 30, 2011.
According to the US Department of Energy, "The vehicles we drive release over 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year—mostly in the form of carbon dioxide — contributing to global climate change." The overall Zoar Outdoor company total of 2000 miles prevented over 2100 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere this year!
Zoar Outdoor Instructor Receives National Recognition
October 19, 2011 (comments: 0)
Janet Cowie, Director of Instruction Programs at Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort in Charlemont, MA, is the recipient of the American Canoe Association’s “Excellence in Instruction” Award for 2011. She was recognized at the ACA’s National Paddlesports Conference in Louisville, KY earlier this month. The prestigious “Excellence in Instruction” award recognizes outstanding contributions in paddlesports education and instruction, and it’s given each year to a deserving member of the ACA.
Since joining the team in 1996, Janet has helped Zoar Outdoor’s instruction program grow to be one of the premier kayak schools in the country, and her accolades and certifications are numerous. She helped organize the first Whitewater Symposium and has been part of the committee for subsequent symposiums. Her love affair with paddlesports began back in 1983, during her freshman year in college, when she accompanied the Outing Club at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on a whitewater canoeing trip. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, she continued to pursue her love of the water on weekends until making it her full-time job with Zoar Outdoor. She currently lives in Rowe, MA with her husband and son.
The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a member based, national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition and recreation.