By Kevin Riordan The Philadelphia Inquirer
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A Philadelphia entrepreneur is helping female baby boomers connect with mother nature. Patt Osborne is the founder of "Boomer Chick Adventures." Annually, she organizes more than a dozen hiking, kayaking, and other recreational activities in the Pinelands and elsewhere for small groups of women, most of whom are over 50.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
After nearly a quarter century as a Burlington County elementary schoolteacher, Patricia "Patt" Osborne was intent on reinventing herself.
So in 2002 she blended her fledgling career as a life coach with her lifelong love of the outdoors to launch Boomer Chick Adventures.
"I know what being outdoors does for me," Osborne, 63, says. "I hope to help people experience a similar feeling. I don't teach; I just facilitate. The transformation comes from Mother Nature."
A Haddon Township grandmother of four, Osborne annually organizes more than a dozen hiking, kayaking, and other recreational activities in the Pinelands and elsewhere for small groups of women, most of whom are over 50.
During a typical year about 125 people, many of them regulars and a handful of male spouses, participate; most activities involve day trips, although the schedule (www.boomerchickadventures.com) includes an annual weekend retreat.
"A boomer chick is a woman who has a strong playful side, a sense of adventure, and likes to get together with other outdoorsy, playful, adventuresome women," explains Osborne, who's known as "Ozzie" to her closest pals and admits that "in my 20s, if someone called me a chick, I would've smashed them."
But rather than the more mellifluous but rather vague "Sisters on the Stream," which she also considered, Osborne opted for a name with attitude -- one that also conveys the camaraderie and collegial, low-key challenges she offers clients like Joyce Rivera, of Mullica Hill, and Robin Fields, of Medford.
Rivera, a retired risk manager, says the adventures "are an opportunity to do things I never would have done on my own" -- such as ride a Segway across an Ocean City bridge.
"It's not a competition," Rivera adds. "Everyone wants everyone else to succeed."
Says Fields, a hospital pharmacist: "As people get older, sometimes they're fearful. They wonder: 'Is it dangerous? Am I going to be out of place?'
"But the adventures are very safe. And Patt creates a very welcoming environment."
Osborne, an animated, athletic woman, talks of her adventures on the patio of the Haddon Township home she shares with software developer Robert Rader, her husband of 30 years.
She's an unabashed lover of the Shore and the Pinelands and sees both of these special South Jersey environments as essential to her peace of mind.
"Boomer Chick Adventures is from the heart. The outdoor piece of this is a very large part of who I am," says Osborne, who grew up in Laurel Springs.
Her memories of childhood in the pretty Camden County borough include watching her grandfather pull up to her family home in his big-finned Chevy. "He gets out of the car, and he's whistling," Osborne says. "And I know there's going to be an adventure."
During day trips with her grandfather and later, hiking and backpacking excursions with family and friends, she fell in love with the natural world -- particularly, with the distinctive and seductive charms of the Pinelands.
"The deep sandy heat and the scent of the pines are so strong in the summer that you get transformed," Osborne says. "It transfers you from your crazy busy life to this amazing solitude."
Although she will structure, say, a kayaking trip with group interludes and other opportunities for participants to share their feelings, the adventures Osborne facilitates are less therapeutic exercises than chances for busy women to immerse themselves in nature.
Osborne notes that lovely Atsion Lake, the headwaters of the Mullica River, is an excellent place for people to paddle off from the group for some quiet, contemplative time.
"I love time to myself, for introspection. It rejuvenates me," says Voorhees businesswoman Herman Bhasin, 48, who, with her husband, runs the Coriander and the Indiya restaurants.
Jennifer Kilpatrick, 53, of West Deptford, the vice president of a medical publishing company, says: "It's a step away from everyday life. Everybody's got a million things to do, and I love the peaceful aspect of being on the water in the woods."
Osborne says she needs those Boomer Chick Adventures as much as the women who join her.
"We need to get out of our monkey brains and away from, 'I've got to do this later, I've got to do this with my kids, I've got to deal with that with my boss,' " she says.
"I tell my boomers: 'Stop for a moment out there on the water. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear?' "
Or perhaps everything.