The Parks and Rec Club Steps into Adventure

Vi at Lakeside Village residents Werner and Trudy Gombert have always had an adventurous spirit and love for the outdoors. Over decades of marriage, they’ve traveled across Europe and Asia, visited ancient Cairo, and hiked trails in national parks across the U.S.

Their desire to explore hasn’t slowed down in retirement, which is why they were thrilled to discover the Parks and Rec Adventure Club at Vi at Lakeside Village after moving to the community last year.

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The club, led by Fitness Coordinator Angela Swiderski, offers residents the opportunity to visit local parks, beaches, nature preserves, equestrian centers and more in a social and welcoming group setting.

Angela, who has organized outings since she started at Vi in 2014, officially formed the club to offer residents a chance to venture outside of the Lakeside Village community and explore South Florida’s natural hidden gems on a regular basis.

“Every senior living community offers trips to the theater, dinner outings, or shopping trips,” said Angela.

“But offering opportunities to visit the beach, to walk along the intracoastal, to go to a nature center or to visit the Palm Beach Zoo is really unique.” 

Embracing the splendor of South Florida, together

Resident Thelma Myerson is an amateur photographer with a special love for wildlife. Though she’s lived in Palm Beach County for over 20 years, moving to Vi at Lakeside Village and signing up for club outings has given Thelma the opportunity to explore places she’s never been before—and snap photographs of birds, landscapes and waterfronts on excursions.

One of her favorite outings was a visit to the Hypoluxo Scrub Natural Area, 97 acres of protected scrub and flatwood land with hiking and nature trails. 

“We walked through quite a rustic area,” said Thelma, “and we were lucky to see a big tortoise digging its nest!”

The club is also a way for residents to connect with each other outside of the community. 

Friends laugh while on a dock.

“Residents have formed new friendships with people that they sit next to on the bus or happen to walk alongside while we’re in that group,” said Angela. “They might meet people they’re not meeting at dinner, playing cards, or in other clubs like the knitting group.”

“It's an advantage living in a community like this, where these activities and excursions are planned, and that you go to as a group,” said Thelma. “You don't have to be alone or afraid of going to a new place.”

Treading new terrain

Angela, a lifelong fitness enthusiast, believes it’s important for residents—and all seniors—to have the opportunity to stay active outside of the gym. 

“Residents work on their fitness skills and participate in classes here at Vi,” said Angela. “These nature trips, however, are a chance to practice their skills in a real-world environment. Walking over dirt, grass, mulch, paved surfaces and steps helps residents learn to navigate and practice their skills, plus get a little bit of exercise.”

Resident Lana Mayer, an avid tennis player and dedicated participant of Angela’s fitness classes, likes to attend the club’s outings as another opportunity to get outdoors and move.

“I think it's important to stay active for my mind, for my well-being,” said Lana. 

Singular lifestyle, singular community

Between club outings, residents of Vi at Lakeside Village still have the opportunity to get outside and explore—without having to leave the community, which is home to many natural wonders of its own, all accessible by walking trails and a community dock. 

The lake, which stretches across 378 acres, is accessible from a walking path and dock connected to the community. Every Friday, the Living Well — the community pontoon boat named after Vi’s holistic approach to wellness — takes a group of residents out for a leisurely ride on the water. 

“I love going down to the lake,” said Thelma. “I call it my new haven. I go there to relax, to feel alive, to soak in the breeze, the fresh air, the nature, the boats.”

Parks and Rec Club members relax on a boat.

On any given day, visitors of the dock and passengers on the Living Well can expect to see Muscovy ducks, herons, limpkins and more. 

“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to be in this community, where I wake up in the morning and open my blinds and have the sunshine coming in and have people smiling at me and welcoming me,” said Lana.

Added Werner, “You can’t ask for more.”