The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 8, 2013

Parks & Rec reports good showing for ‘Get off the Couch’

By Ian Faulkner, Staff Writer

Friday, February 8, 2013 — In January, Albemarle Parks and Recreation (AP&R) sponsored a series of activities called “Get off the Couch.”

Designed and planned to go along with New Year’s resolutions, Get off the Couch featured individual activities and group events that took place at lunch time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We were very pleased with the turn out,” Parks Director Toby Thorpe said.

“We had only one day that we didn’t have anybody participate and that’s because it was pouring down rain.

“We averaged five to 10 most days that we were doing something.”

Thorpe said the last program they had of a similar nature was back in 2003 when they did a “Hearts and Parks” promotion in conjunction with the health department. They also have had a walking group that met two to three times a week.

“Our main purpose for Get off the Couch was to get folks off the couch,” Thorpe said.

“A lot of folks make New Year’s resolutions. A good one for folks to make, and a common one, is to be more active, healthy and lose weight.

“We wanted to give people an opportunity during the workday to come out and try some of these activities.

“All of these are things they can go out and do on their own.

“We wanted to get folks that would come each day, some new things they can try. So they won’t get in a rut.

“It’s a lot easier to stay active if you keep it interesting and keep it fresh,” Thorpe said.

He noted that AP&R will probably have another similar series of events, based off the success and positive feedback of this one.

“I don’t know if we’ll do something quite as involved,” he said.

“As we get further into spring and summer we’ll be covered up with things to do, but we’ll look at doing something similar next January.”

Thorpe spoke about why AP&R hosted January’s series of activities.

“One thing that we are in the midst of right now, this is our 50th year of existence,” he said.

“We’ve been trying to do a special event each month, from last July through June.

“This is what we chose as a staff and a citizen’s committee that cooked up ideas for each month.”

For February, AP&R will have an event on black history in the E.E. Waddell Community Center.

In March, AP&R will have an Easter egg hunt. There will be a kite festival in April. In May there will be a Challenge triathalon, which will be different than a traditional one.

In June, there will be a 50th birthday party for AP&R at City Lake Park.

“We’re trying to go out with a bang. We’ll do it again in another 50 years,”  he said.

He spoke about some of the more popular activities that took place in January.

“We had a good number at disc golf. The Zumba program that ended it up had really good participation,” he said.

“The walking group that we started for Tuesdays and Thursdays has kept going pretty good. We have several dedicated people who have been doing it and hopefully will keep on doing it.”

However, one event that stood out as unique during Get off the Couch was the geocaching.

“The geocaching went really well. Geocaching is  kind of a hi-tech treasure hunt, that would be the best way to describe it,” he said.

“Folks will go out and hide caches in public parks or various places. They can be tiny or as large as a red box. A geographical point is mapped on a GPS, [the cache is] hidden well and cleverly.

“If you have a GPS. unit or if you have a GPS enabled mobile phone, these caches are listed on various websites, is the main one.

“You can find caches people have placed in these parks. The GPS will get you close, then you have to look to find the cache. It will be hidden fairly well or camouflaged, it’s not sitting right out in the open.

“Caches are water and weather proof. They will contain a log book that you sign and date, then you put it back like you found it.

“Bigger [caches] have trinkets, like a key chain or something. If you take it, you leave something of equal value.

The class was taught by Tony Hill, who has logged caches in every county in North Carolina.

“The neat side of this, you get to get out and see some places that are off the beaten path, places most folks don’t hike to,” Thorpe said.

“It works the body as well as the mind and is never boring. Lots of folks in our area are really into it and enjoy it.”

AP&R will host another short class on geocaching for the Uwharrie Hikers on Feb. 24th. After a short lesson by Hill, the group will begin geocaching at Rock Creek Park at 1 p.m. and could end up anywhere.

For more info on AP&R, visit and look for Parks and Recreation.