What do hula hooping, geocaching, ukulele and peteka have in common? All are available to try in Huntsville.


There’s no shortage of ways to stay active, try new things, or meet new people in Huntsville. Just ask Simone Babineau, Manager of Recreation and Leisure Services for the Town of Huntsville.

“We have some fun new programs launching this spring in addition to the extensive list of classes and workshops that Huntsville has come to expect,” she says. “Two that I’m especially excited about are an aquatics leaders-in-training program that will help young people transition to becoming aquatic instructors and counsellors, and our new Zoomers with Zip which offers a variety of active social programs for adults.”

New programs for youth

Remember hula hoops? They’re back! But forget that image of endless spinning – Muskoka Hoops will teach kids some mad skills and tricks they can show off to their friends. It’s good exercise, too (but don’t tell them that!).

Have a budding young chef or two at home? They’ll get sweet results in the new Youth Baking class with Whimsical Bakery’s Christine Kropp. And best of all, you don’t have to clean up the mess.

GPS and Google Maps will only get you so far. Kids can learn orienteering skills in this fun program that includes exploration rope courses, map art, picture maps, and interactive orienteering games.

Is your child ready for a leadership role? The Aquatic Leader in Training program might be for them. From July 4-8, kids 12 and older can achieve Bronze Award levels, Emergency First Aid, and training in how to be an aquatics instructor so that they are prepared to become certified when they are old enough.

“This is a great program that will fast track kids through Bronze levels and give them experience that they can carry with them through their entire lives,” says Babineau. “Swim instructors are needed everywhere – they can teach if they go away to university or college, when they come back home in the summer, and part-time for extra income when they are adults.” Participants can continue as volunteers after completing the course to earn school volunteer hours and credits toward other aquatic courses.

And for kids who love to play in the pool, Wibit Saturdays continue. Haven’t seen the Wibit? It’s all kinds of fun and it’s available for birthday parties, too.

New programs for adults

Hooping isn’t just for kids. Adults can get in on the excitement, too, with the Introduction to Hooping Workshop. Part dance, part circus act, part moving meditation, hoop dance is fun for everyone. Even if you haven’t picked up a hoop in years – or ever! – you’ll enjoy this class. No experience necessary.

Ever heard of Peteka? It’s Brazilian, it’s social, and it’s a blast. “Peteka is a cross between volleyball, badminton, and hacky-sack,” explains Babineau. “It’s a very social, interactive game that can be played one on one, two on two, six on six, that they play in parks and on beaches in Brazil. We’re offering it as an indoor drop-in right after pickleball, and in the summer we’ll move it outside to play over the traditional taller net.”

Green thumb or not, you can learn how to grow your own sprouts and turn raw ingredients into healthy meals with two new workshops from Four Season Greens: Sprouting 101 and Rawlicious. Think beyond the salad – hot soups, crackers and desserts can all be made raw.

Ukulele has a growing following and now returning players have a class of their own. “For those who have already started playing and want to advance their skills even more, we have a group session for returning players to make music together,” says Babineau.

Ukulele - the little instrument with the big following!

Ukulele – the little instrument with the big following!

What is a Zoomer with zip? If you’re an active adult, and eager to learn new things and make new friends, it might be you! This weekly drop-in is jam-packed with social, active leisure experiences like guided hikes, canoeing, coffee hours, yoga in the park, tennis, ice skating, tai chi, educational workshops, shuffleboard, picnic lunches, and more. “We provide all of the gear and our program coordinator facilitates everything,” says Babineau. “You can come every week or when your schedule allows – just show up and have run!” Registration opens in May.

And all of the programs local adults have come to love – like pickleball, short story writing, NIA dance, and drum circles – will continue. Check the Leisure Guide for details and schedules.

New programs for everyone

“We have many options that are great for families to get out and spend some time together,” says Babineau. “There’s geocaching, learn to draw classes, pinhole photography, drum circles, and lots more – they are a great way for families to learn something together.”

The new Canoe Instruction class will get your family paddling together – equipment is provided but bring your own PFD and paddle if you have them.

Learn to Fish Days, July 14-16, are great for all ages and they’re free! The Travelling TackleShare crew will provide fishing instruction and lessons on aquatic habitats, conservation and water safety at the Town Dock. Rods and bait provided for up to 50 kids and families.

Fishing is fun for everyone!

Fishing is fun for everyone!

Teens and adults can Learn to Train for Cross-Country Running in a new class with the Muskoka Algonquin Runners (MARS). A post-run meal, water bottle, and cross-country running book are included. Participants need to be able to run 5km per day before the program starts.

“I hope everyone will take the time to flip through the Leisure Guide, either online or the print version,” says Babineau. “There is an amazing variety of activities – there really is something for everyone.”

The print version of the Town of Huntsville’s Leisure Guide lands on doorsteps March 17 but you can get a sneak preview online here. Registration for most programs is open now.

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