Folks in search of adventure should check out Florida Great Outdoors. Described as a social, recreational and educational membership organization, Florida Great Outdoors is “specifically designed for any active individual,” including “gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and other intelligent people.”

“We are a non-competitive, social organization for people who like to be outdoors,” said Great Outdoors President Dave Brackett. “Our focus is on being outdoors in some way, but purely social events in the great outdoors are also scheduled from time to time.”

Florida Great Outdoors began 24 years ago as Southeastern Great Outdoors. According to Brackett, it was started “by a man who moved to South Florida from San Diego, where he was a member of the California group Great Outdoors. Not finding a similar group here, he borrowed the name Great Outdoors and started the club.

In the late 90s we merged with the Outdoor Adventure Club in Tampa, after years of attending each other’s events. It just made sense to change our name to reflect what we had become.”

Florida Great Outdoors has 700 or so members, largely men but with “a reasonable number of women.”

From the beginning, Great Outdoor events focused on car camping (as in pack the kitchen sink and be comfortable). It also “sponsors almost any activity a member wants to sponsor.” They include backpacking (for “hard core” members), paddling and cycling trips, museum visits, charter boat trips and even occasional trips to Central America, the Florida Panhandle or southern Georgia.

Some of Brackett’s “notable memories” include “holding our first beginner’s kayaking trip at Oleta River State Park during Tropical Storm Gordon; taking new members camping for the first time; seeing alligators in front of our canoes in the Everglades; paddling with manatees on the crystal rivers of central Florida; jumping out of an airplane on a club skydiving trip; paddling at night around Wilton Manors to see the Christmas lights in December; snorkeling in the Keys; and tubing down the Itcheetucknee River.”

This year promises to be another eventful year for Florida Great Outdoors. Plans include camping trips to Vitambi Springs and Camp Mars, boating and cycling trips and even Stand Up Paddling (SUP) on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Membership to Great Outdoors is free (though they do “pass the hat” to cover costs) and is open to anyone over 18 “who agrees to our organizational concept.”

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