Although the Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream Club was created to promote exercise in the great outdoors, it's about more than physical fitness.
"We're trying to create a community. Get people moving around and talking," said Scott MacMillan, club founder and director of operations at the Niles Wellness Center.
"The original group started out as the parents of kids who were on the same travel soccer team," explained club member Carmen Cicero. "We'd have fun doing little things when they weren't playing, like have dinner, but now that the kids are grown up, there's no more travel soccer. So we decided that we're going to get together and take little trips around the area to see what's out there. We talked about doing whitewater rafting in West Virginia and skiing in western New York. Every season change brings something different."
Bill Gilmour of Howland, left, Carmen Cicero of Niles, center, and Scott MacMillan are the founding members of the Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream Club. The club’s aim is to encourage people to socialize more while taking part in outdoor activities.
The concept of the club is simple: a group of people gets together to participate in an outdoor activity once a month, but the philosophy behind it goes a little bit deeper.
"People don't want to interact,"?MacMillan said. "We've taught ourselves to be uncomfortable with interaction, especially interpersonal, face-to-face communication. People don't even talk to their neighbors any more. I think it takes a community to raise the level of physical health and mental health and in our society, it's lacking."
He hopes the Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream Club will provide solutions with a little help from the Western Reserve Greenway trail system.
"A lot of people are excited about the trail and they say they want to use it but they don't get out and actually get their bike or their feet going," said MacMillan. "We want to show them that it's safe, that it's a nice environment, and get some day events going where we get people to come out, even if it's not related to the trail itself."
MacMillan suggests a farmer's market at the trailhead or hosting a walk so that people can experience the trail and raise money for a charitable cause.
"People know that mental and physical fitness is very important for well-being - your attitude, the way you think, emotions, your relationship with people - all of how you feel,"?MacMillan said. "Mental health has a lot to do with your physical health. We just want people to understand that (the trail) is there, and maybe they'll use it. It'll be a better quality of life for people."
Plus, joining the club and using the trail are free.
"Free is good,"?MacMillan said. "The government has already paid for it. People don't understand the benefits that we have here. We're losing our libraries, we're losing our parks. You can drive through our community and see parks that are overgrown - nobody's using them. We should have summer programs there, and volunteers out to try to make things better."
The Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream clubs plans to do its part.
"One of the main reasons that we created this club is because we want to adopt the bike trail," said MacMillan. "We'll monitor it, keep it safe, clean and utilize it also. The other is to do some fun exercise once a month. Exercise gets to be very boring, so we want to get people up and moving around, going hiking or going on a bike ride somewhere."
Bill Gilmour is president of the Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream Club. MacMillan named him president of the club in an effort to help him get active and recover from the heart attack that he suffered in September.
"I think it's because I was late to a meeting," Gilmour laughed.
Gilmour is a biology teacher and a seasoned outdoorsman who has lots of ideas for future trips.
"We went down to Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago to check out a place that has some really neat bike trails,"?he said. "They've got quite a complex, you can go anywhere from Cincinnati to Columbus and a whole bunch of little towns between."
There has also been talk of exploring Ohiopyle and Old Man's Cave in coming months.
"Hopefully, it will expand and get larger. We're open to anybody who wants to do it," said Cicero.
"We're trying to make it so you don't have to be in great shape,"?Gilmour said. "We want you to be able to join our group no matter whatever level of fitness you're at. There are some people who will be out there in front, but I'll be in the back looking around and picking up rocks, and anyone is welcome to join me."
For MacMillan, the Hike, Bike, Slope and Stream Club is just a beginning.
"I'd be more than happy to help anybody who wants to bring this concept into their community,"?he said. "It's not hard, you just have to dream a little bit."