By Mary Ann Lieser
What’s on your bucket list? If your dream accomplishments include an outdoor adventure or two, it’s likely that Bucket List Adventure Company Ohio can help — and you’ll have a lot of fun along the way.
Based in Stark County, the company has been supporting adventurous Northeast Ohioans since 2016. Owner Brandi Noll began thinking about the idea while she was recuperating from hip surgery.
During the months it took to relearn how to walk, Noll says, “I realized that I had always taken for granted my ability to get up and do anything I wanted to do.” Her temporary physical limitations gave her a new awareness of how fleeting our opportunities can be, and she resolved to seize adventure every chance she got.
Spreading the Word
Noll learned to surf six months after surgery and then launched her business — a boutique travel agency for those seeking challenging adventures — so that she could bring a crew of like-minded compatriots along on future jaunts.
Some of the outings Noll leads are comparatively sedate — an Earth Day hike at Hocking Hills or a wine and waterfall excursion at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Others are more daring — whitewater rafting in Pennsylvania or ziplining in Hocking Hills. Some verge on daredevil status — a skydiving trip or a Florida shark dive.
Those who register for an excursion need only sign up and show up. Noll handles all the planning and logistics, making a fun outing stress-free for those who are happy to have someone else deal with the details.
The adventure outings also are designed for those who want to try a new experience but are a bit hesitant. The trips foster a “family and friends” environment, providing support and encouragement.
“What can be daunting by yourself becomes a shared adventure when we do it together,” Noll says.
The bonding experience for the group members begins as they travel together. Noll drives an Adventure Bus on most outings, with several pickup spots arranged for the convenience of the participants.
Low-Risk, High Reward
The adventures are also a good option for those who’d like to try new things without investing in equipment.
“Some activities can be expensive in terms of gear, and then you might find it’s not your cup of tea,” Noll says.
She has found that she doesn’t really like backpacking, but she loved her experience ice climbing near Detroit. The facility provided the equipment and basic training; the Bucket List group provided camaraderie. And ice climbing became one of Noll’s favorite outings.
“I love experiences that are unique, but also accessible to anyone willing to try. You don’t have to be a 21-year-old athlete.”
All ages are welcome on Bucket List adventures. The company has had 20-something clients on outings, but just as many adventurers have been over 50. Noll has been alongside Boomers as they’ve learned to scuba dive, hung from a zipline or tackled whitewater rafting for the first time.
Older clients sometimes initially seek assurance that age isn’t an obstacle. They may ask, “Will there be other people my age?” or “Am I too old?” But Noll has found that clients 50 and older are often more eager to try new adventures than younger folks are.
Is that because those over 50, whose kids may be grown and who may be retired, have more time and money at their disposal?
“That’s part of it, but I find they are often more confident and comfortable with themselves, and ready to get busy living life,” Noll says.
That adventurous spirit is why some Boomers find they are a natural fit for the Adventure Club that Noll organizes. Separate from the Bucket List Adventure Company Ohio’s other outings, the club meets regularly and tries a new activity monthly.
Club members have been introduced to indoor logrolling, entered a sandcastle competition on Lake Erie and participated in a contest to build a cardboard and duct tape boat to launch in a race at Portage Lakes. The group’s boat was the first to sink, their sandcastle didn’t stand a chance against those of some of the professional architects they were competing against, and a good many club members got soaking wet before they mastered staying upright during the logroll. But they did have a lot of fun as they sampled unique experiences.
Noll’s best advice for Boomers? It’s the same advice she’d give to young people, and it’s the same advice she gave herself in her hospital bed when she was recovering from surgery: Challenge yourself. Get out and do things.”
Mary Ann Lieser is a Wooster-based freelance writer.