Howdy from the Ottawa: Wild Mating and Other Distractions


My friend Leslie and I went on an exciting weekend trip on the 23rd and 24th of July: a kayaking course on the Ottawa River. On our weekend getaway from the city, we played sports and relaxed.

You know that I always have my eyes peeled for good story ideas, and when we started chatting with the other weekend visitors, one such idea smacked me square in the face. Meet Market Adventures, the firm that planned the trip, brought together 36 people from Toronto to spend the weekend rafting.

Meet Market Adventures, according to their website, promotes singles travel in Canada and the United States for working singles looking for exciting vacations with other singles. Some of the monthly adventures include hiking, bicycling, skydiving, skiing, and many other outdoor pursuits.

Some group members introduced themselves to us over breakfast on Saturday, and we learned that this singles travel firm plans anything from happy hours at local watering holes to weekend trips to weeklong cruises.

Although I am happily married and therefore not worried about the dating scene, I have many single female friends who are experiencing varying degrees of frustration and who have tried everything from online dating sites like Lava Life to speed dating services to more personalized match-making services, with decidedly mixed results.

This past weekend, I let out my inner amateur behavioral scientist and sought to learn as much as possible about the social dynamics at play here. The campground was quite raucous on Friday night, and I can only assume that the largest group there, along with some other groups, took advantage of being away from home for the weekend to let loose. People seemed to be having a good time, what with all the whooping, the blasting music, and the abundant alcohol consumption.

Since we went kayaking instead of rafting on Saturday, we had no contact with the singles group on their first day of rafting. The six of us made our way down to the riverfront in the evening when we encountered four men and two women standing on a pier, speaking reasonably orderly and enjoying the sunset. After approximately half an hour, the ladies, including ourselves, said our goodbyes and returned to the campgrounds.

One of the women in our singles travel group told us that she had attended several of Meet Market Adventures significant adventure events and thoroughly loved them, despite having mixed results in the dating department thus far.

When we returned to the campground, we spent a little time around the campfire with our white water kayaking buddies in the “quiet campers” section. Two couples, one with a baby on the way and one that just found out they were expecting, had been together for five and eight years, respectively. Absolutely no assistance with mating is required…

The Meet Market group’s base camp was in the middle campground, where we attended Krista’s “poise” performance around 10 p.m. Krista performed poise, a Maori martial art involving two wires, each having a wick at one end, four times. The boys seemed to appreciate the show because Krista is a brilliant and beautiful young woman.

As the night progressed, one of the lone travelers proclaimed himself “leader of the tribe” and started playing the bongo drums that had accompanied Krista’s performance earlier. His understanding of rhythm and flair was undoubtedly unique. The tribal leader was far less annoying than I had anticipated, and he even performed an elegant dance in a towel around the campfire. He also kept referring to my friend Leslie and me as “the kayak girls” or “the sacrificial virgins” (yeah, right..). Towards the conclusion of the evening, I was beginning to wonder who, if anyone, would be voted out of the campground.

My friend and I had a fantastic time mingling with a few members of this group; jokes were flying the entire evening freely, and we even descended to the campground’s third level (the level reserved for rowdy campers…), where the locals were preparing the enormous bonfire imaginable. Since neither Leslie nor I drink, this was one of those nights where we were both giddy and laughed until we cried. There was no need for mind-altering substances because everyone present was just there to have a good time.

The solo travelers appeared to have had a wonderful time. Overall, it felt like an acceptable manner of connecting with other like-minded humans, whether male or female, and there seemed to be more group socializing than individual mating attempts.

Around 1 am, Leslie and I left the party, but many others were still there. Some group members were already on the move at 6 a.m. the following morning when the cows came through the campsites for their daily inspection and Paddie-dropping run. I didn’t envy the party animals who had to go rafting on whitewater for the entire day after getting nothing more than a night’s sleep.

At around 2 in the afternoon, the crowd returned, and this time it looked even more exhausted. They had all boarded the bus and were returning to Toronto the next time. I can only say that a group adventure trip for solo adventurers looks like a good option for those seeking companions with similar interests. Only time will tell if it’s a decent place to be hitched…

Travel and Transitions ( is Susanne Pacher’s website. Travel & Transitions focuses on off-the-beaten-path travel and is packed with helpful information and features, including guides, suggestions, interviews with travelers and industry professionals, personal reflections, discussions of cultural differences, and more. You’ll also find tales about the ups and downs we all experience on our unique paths through life.

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