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Local ADK chapter still kicking; adapting to draw families


In this day and age, Janine Johnson says it’s more important for families to be involved with nature.

“Children are so removed from nature with the availability of the Wii, iPads, electronics — I see 2- and 3-year-olds with iPhones in their hand,” said Johnson, who serves as chair of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Black River Chapter. “We host things for families and kids that promote turning off electronics. Get outside, enjoy nature. The next generation ... won’t see the value or how it’s important to preserve. We need clean air, clean water and beautiful forests to go out in and relieve our stresses.”

The Adirondack Mountain Club, a nonprofit organization, was established in 1922 with the intent to improve recreation, provide education programs and to advocate for conservation.

As of this month, the group has 220 members. Membership is available on an annual basis at $50 for individuals, $60 for families and $40 for students ages 18 and older and seniors, ages 65 and older. Most ADK events are free to the general public and membership is not required to participate. Membership includes discounts on using club facilities, a subscription to Adirondack Magazine and the chapter’s newsletter, Black River Currents.

Even the newsletter, released in conjunction with the four seasons, has been made child-friendly.

“It’s changed from previous years. We now have a Kidz Korner with puzzles and games; makes it more family-oriented,” said Johnson.

The summer edition of Kidz Korner posed the question, “What can you do about climate change?” The query was followed by a list of activities, including riding bicycles, planting a tree, drying clothes outdoors and taking a short shower, rather than a bath.

“When I lead hikes — the more local hikes — it’s something my [8-year-old] daughter can do,” said Johnson.

The group hosts outings throughout the year, from hikes, kayak trips and cycling rides to snowshoeing or cross-country ski trips. All events are planned in either Jefferson and Lewis counties and are advertised in their newsletter. Other events by local organizations Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust or Thousand Islands Land Trust also make it into the newsletter, which can be viewed at

“The club as a whole is offering more things,” added Johnson. “They did their first annual Winterfest at the lodge geared for families last winter.”

The free event was held in Lake Placid and featured snowshoe and ski demos, ice skating, snowshoe hikes, curling and a children’s activity center.

In 2013, the local chapter petitioned for a $640,000 state Department of Transportation grant to extend the Black River Trail, which runs from Watertown to Black River. The trail, totaling 3.3 miles, would be extended a mile into Watertown. It was announced earlier this year the project would go forward.

“This trail has wonderfully high usage. There’s families with strollers, walking,” said Johnson. “We wrote a letter to Kevin Kieff [Thousand Islands regional director for the state parks office] a year ago and our support holds a lot of weight... Eventually, we hope to see the plan extend into Carthage.”

Although the club focuses on advocacy and conservation, Johnson said the big thing is recreation. Several events are planned for the remainder of the summer, including a bike trip from Cape Vincent to Kingston Sunday, July 27; a paddle and hike trip at Lakeview Wildlife Management Sunday, Aug. 3; and the Lorraine Gulf Bushwhack, Sunday, Aug. 17. An annual dinner is being planned for members in the fall at Tug Hill Vineyards in Lowville.

In addition to making the club child-friendly, Johnson said they are also seeking additional chapter members willing to lead events.

“Adirondack Mountain Club, as a whole, is an aging population,” she said.

Those interested in joining the club may contact Johnson at 782-0651 or; or call 1-800-395-8080, ext. 6, for membership.

To learn about the whole organization, visit

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