THE “F” WORD

Mention “family camping” and some people will tell you to wash your mouth out with soap. But the attitudes of many in the outdoor industry are changing.

* FAMILY CAMPING: AKA THE OTHER “F” WORD. The phrase “family camping” often evokes images of cabin-style tents (family cabin tents), 20-pound, four-burner stoves and air mattresses, provoking a collective scowl in an outdoor industry full of `core’ brands. Well, before this image clouds your vision, remember that it’s not good to ignore the hand that’s fed you. The outdoor industry’s core consumer base is getting gray, and as these folks mature and raise your future customers, they’re looking to trusted brands in the outdoor industry to provide them with family camping goods.

Scott Weir, sales and marketing manager for Armadillo, a new division of Walrus tents, is a perfect example of this emerging customer base. “I used to only buy two-person, backpacking tents, but now that I have two children of my own I’m looking for a best family tent that’s more family oriented,” says Weir. Walrus birthed the Armadillo line to reach just such a consumer.

RIGHT ON THE MARK. “We’re applying the old business triangle to Moss, Walrus and Armadillo,” explains Weir. “The highest end is Moss, followed by Walrus for the backpackers who are quality and value-minded and, then, Armadillo is designed to reach the broadest consumer base, the family campers.”

After one season in REI, Weir says he’s convinced that Armadillo is on the mark. The line–which Weir says is more technical than traditional “cabin” style family tents–ranges in price from $249 to $395. It’s not the cheapest line of tents on the market, which reflects the fact that suppliers are hoping that these new family camping consumers will be willing to invest in products that are more technical.

Sierra Designs President Sally McCoy says that the company’s higher-end family oriented product is seeing great sell-through. “Our larger, multipurpose tents are definitely selling better. We’re seeing dramatic percentage increases in sales from more upscale customers,” says McCoy.

Casey Sheahan, president of Kelty, says that he, too, sees growth in this consumer base. “Obviously, there’s a huge group of baby boomers out there who are really into getting their kids into an activity that they grew up doing,” says Sheahan. Kelty has already seen the proof in the bottom line. According to Sheahan, sales from the company’s two-year-old kids’ line are already on par with sales of Kelty backpacks.

With results like that, Sheahan says he’s going full-speed ahead to attract these consumers. Judging by the product displayed at the 1998 OUTDOOR RETAILER Summer Market, Kelty won’t be the only brand pursuing this market.

MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT.

Quest debuted more family oriented tents, including the Adventure and Journey lines, which range in price from $129 to $289. The attempt to reach family campers was a natural progression for the company, which is owned by Jin Woong– the largest OEM tent manufacturer in the outdoor industry that caters largely to the massmerchant sector.

“We’re not making any bones about the fact that we’re going after this family consumer,” says Mary Henningsen, operations manager for Quest. “We plan to expand our family offerings in the future. We’ll keep some image pieces in the line, splitting it into a more core outdoor line and a family line.

“There are a lot of people out there to reach,” she says. “Those backpackers who are having families want affordability and quality, but don’t want to go to the mass merchants to buy.”

There are changes in store for the product lines of brands traditionally known for family product. At Summer Market, Wenzel showed a line of family tents loaded with high-tech features, such as UV treatments and multiroom tents. Coleman has also embraced the trend toward more technical tents, yet has kept the line to affordable price points. These product debuts point to an emerging middle ground that has been left wide open by the core brands and those sold in mass-merchant retailers. As an extension of this bridge, retailers are getting more savvy with each season.

“It’s easy to find promotional or cheap tents for sale in the spring with the sale-priced items,” says Sheahan. “Retailers are finding hooks to get these families to come back in to load them up with the rest of the gear for the summer.” Sheahan points to the echo-boomers (children of baby boomers) as the real engines to the trend of higher-tech product for family campers. “This trend will only grow stronger as echo-boomers are estimated to grow into a demographic that will be between 60 million and 70 million people by the year 2003,” he says. *

Mountain Bikes – A Healthy Ride

If you are searching a mean to get health and fun in your free time especially on weekends, so don’t be get worried because Mountain bike will give you both incentives. Now a day’s human life is getting busy day by day and in the result of this we cannot spare so much time for doing healthy activates and making fun in our life.

Today’s man has become a machine because of tough working competition in professional life. This competition and tough daily routine are making the life of human boring day by day. So in such a boring life if you are planning to do some healthy activity which also gives you pleasure and enjoyment then riding on Mountain Bike is one of the best healthy activities for you.

Modern features and attractive look of new mountain bikes may also drive the enthusiasm of riding over them and it is good. Because with the help of such attractive features we can get aware and motivate the new coming generation about a healthy activity of riding over bike.

Mountain bikes for beginners

In the beginning you wouldn’t have a good idea about the purchasing of the best mountain bike according to your budget. But as you are a newer for riding over mountain bike you should search a basic mountain bike which will meet your requirements and you can upgrade your basic mountain bike according to needs or requirements. In the beginning you don’t need to buy an expensive bike. For the beginners I would suggest to buy the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars or to buy a best bike under 600 dollars. In 500 dollars to 600 dollars you should buy a best basic mountain bike for this you should visit local mountain bike dealer of your area first. [Read more…]

Scooter technology is improving

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you probably know by now that Canada is going green.

At least, that’s what Prime Minister Steven Harper would have us believe. Whether Harper’s recent green initiatives are just politics isn’t for me to say, but, among other things, more generous tax rebates for fuel-efficient cars and penalties for those that aren’t are in the cards for Canadian consumers.

Make the world greener

No word yet on whether the government’s largesse extends to two-wheeled vehicles, however, but if you really want to make an environmental statement, there is nothing greener or less noxious than a battery-powered scooter. About the only thing more environmentally correct is a bicycle.

And there are more and more battery-powered scooters, motorcycles and hybrids available to Canadian consumers these days. Choosing a best electric scooter for you is not a bad choice.

There seems to be a mini tsunami of alternate transportation models coming out of Asia — mainly Taiwan and China. But some Canadian companies are starting to appear as well; one of them being Greenwit Technologies, which is headquartered in Vancouver and markets a range of electric scooters and bikes that are — or soon will be — sold across Canada.

Although most of its products are built in Taiwan and China, Greenwit designs many of the electrical components in its Vancouver facility. “It’s simple economics,” explains Steve Miloshev, president and owner of Greenwit. “In China, workers earn six dollars a day. In Canada, you must pay people at least $15 an hour. I would like to do everything here, but it’s impossible. So, yes, China is our main supplier, but we’re looking at India as well.”

Greenwit electric scooter

Greenwit currently has 10 models in its lineup — everything from battery-assisted moped bicycles to electric motorcycles, plus electric skateboards.

“Electric scooters and motorcycles are discriminated against by the Canadian government,” the Bulgarian-born Miloshev says. “If I take one of our manufactured models to Transport Canada for certification, they will charge me $80,000 for an inspection — for one model. But anyone with a home-made electric car can get a $25 inspection from the motor vehicle branch and put a plate on it. The government has made it very complicated to sell electric scooters and motorcycles in this country.”

Still, if you want to persevere, the technology is improving. For one thing, you can now buy an electric scooter that will actually keep going under its own steam when you encounter a change in elevation.

Thanks to a special built-in torque converter, Greenwit’s new HTh model will climb any hill up to 20 degrees without the rider having to resort to pedalling or pushing. “It doesn’t consume any more power than a regular model, but it is 80 per cent more efficient,” says Miloshev.

Greenwit also sells its GTx model, which will actually achieve a top speed of some 70 km/h — on the flat with a tailwind. And it can apparently have a range of up to 200 kilometres, depending on the battery.

GTx model

Most scooters are governed not to exceed 32 km/h, so the GTx is something of a hot rod. With this model, you will need a DOT-approved helmet and a driver’s licence, but some of Greenwit’s other offerings don’t require any licence at all. If it is categorized as an electric scooter by Transport Canada, that means it will have a top speed of 32 km/h and anyone can ride it as long as they’re wearing a helmet.

But the heart of the problem is still battery technology, which has kind of hit the wall. Even the most efficient scooter on the market will run out of juice after about 50 or 70 kilometres, if it has a conventional lead-acid battery.

“You can buy a lithium-ion, battery-powered scooter,” explains Miloshev, “but just the battery by itself costs about $1,500, so it’s kind of expensive.” Lead-acid batteries have a life of two or three years, where a lithium-ion battery will keep you going for five.

Still, things are improving. Thanks to the skyrocketing price of gas, and films like Who Killed The Electric Car? and An Inconvenient Truth, public interest has been piqued.

And some cities are getting the message about scooters, electric and otherwise. In Toronto, you can park your scooter or motorcycle for free on city streets, and in Vancouver, the city is considering installing free plug-in recharging centres throughout the downtown area.

And not a moment too soon, according to Miloshev. “We almost went into bankruptcy,” he says, “and things got pretty tough for us. But there is light at the end of the tunnel now. We’re still in deep water, but at least we’re floating.

“We are setting up dealerships in Toronto and Vancouver right now. We have to change people’s curiosity about electric scooters into interest.”

Recently E200 Razor scooter has been published. It is considered a cheap scooter not only for kids, but adults.

Close fought final at Badminton championships: the annual Fire Service Sports and Athletics Association (FSSAA) Badminton championships took place in April and with the kind cooperation of the section’s chairman, CFO Barry O’Donnell, returned to Sheffield for the third successive year. (Sport)

I am pleased to report that we had our highest attendance for many years, with more than 50 competitors turning out. This was the best turnout since the late 80s and early 90s, and almost caused problems for the organisers with the amount of court time booked.Badminton England

In the men’s singles event it was pleasing to see the return after several years’ absence of Andy Carter (Staffordshire). Andy had been undefeated at the championships, winning the singles title for four successive years before several bad injuries prevented him from playing.

He soon showed that he had lost none of his ability to make the game look too easy, with his languid style giving the appearance of having more time than most to play his shots–a true sign of a class act. Being unseeded he reached the final the hard way, having to overcome Paul Smyth and Howard Stephens to set up a match against last year’s winner Mike Dixon.

This turned out to be the best match of the tournament with Andy handling Mike’s powerful smashes to take the first end. The second end proved to be an epic struggle with Mike stretching Andy to the limit before he took the match by the closest of margins. As Andy sportingly admitted afterwards, if the match had gone to a deciding end, Mike could well have retained his title.

In the men’s doubles event Steve Norman and Howard Stephens won the final beating Steve Sharpe (West Midlands) and a very tired Mike Dixon. Unfortunately Ken Leathern could not attend the tournament to enable himself and Paul Smyth to defend their title.

In the ladies singles there was a new name on the trophy, with Mandy Cregin (Northumberland) reversing last year’s final defeat against many time winner Karen Le Surf (London). In the ladies doubles final Mandy and Karen teamed up but were beaten by the strong Norfolk pairing of Gill O’Leary and Lindsay West.

In the veterans singles Colin Jeffrey retained his title, beating Brian Molyneux (South Yorkshire) in the final. However, in the final of the veterans doubles his winning run with partner Colin Ford came to an end when they were beaten by the experienced Northern Ireland pairing of Paul Smyth and Dave Mullen who is maturing like a fine wine.

On Sunday Dave Mullen was drawn out of the hat to partner Steve Norman and they went on to take the men’s American doubles title at a canter. This was Dave’s second successive American title so I think it is fair to say that next year he will be placed in the thoroughbreds half of the draw.

  • In the ladies American doubles Gill and Lindsay proved too strong for the opposition, beating Mandy and Jean Gledhill in the final. I think we will have to make sure they are split up in next year’s draw.
  • In the mixed doubles event Gill O’Leary drew the short straw and played with Colin Jeffrey, despite this handicap she managed to win the event beating Howard Stephens and Mandy Cregin in the final–this being Mandy’s fourth final of the event.
  • It was greatly appreciated by the committee that Malcolm Allcock took time out to make the long journey to attend the championships and present trophies to the finalists, although he was disappointed to have missed the section’s AGM–by the time he arrived from the spectators balcony it was over!

Our annual challenge match against Northern Ireland was due to take place in November at Huddersfield. Unfortunately we had to postpone the match due to the industrial action. The match will go ahead in 2003 once the action is settled. My thanks go to Jean Gledhill of West Yorkshire for all the work she had put in to stage the match in Huddersfield before the postponement.

Stewart out as JHS volleyball coach: 117 school board votes 4-3 not to rehire

Four District 117 board members declined comment on the matter.

But their votes said enough. By a 4-3 tally Wednesday night, the Jacksonville District 117 school board officially voted to not rehire Jacksonville High and Turner Junior High volleyball coach Paula Stewart. Members casting votes in support of Stewart’s rehiring were Jennifer DeWitt, Steve Cantrell and Cheryl Ballard. Craig Albers, Ken Heaton, Greg Clark and board president Mindy Olson voted against the coach’s retention.

Disctrict 117

Just before the vote, the board also announced the immediate resignation of varsity assistant coach Lindsay Powell, who’d already been recommended for rehire and whose position was not threatened by Wednesday’s action. Speaking to reporters after the vote, Stewart broke her silence, calling her firing the result of personal grudges and an abuse of power. Three of the four board members who cast votes against Stewart’s rehiring never even spoke to her about whatever claims other players or parents might have brought against her.

“You would think if you’re going to fire an employee, who has the recommendation of both principals and (athletic directors), you would call and give the coach the benefit of the doubt, which did not happen,” Stewart said. “I’ve never spoken to Mr. Albers. I’ve never spoken to Mr. Heaton. Like I said, the third gentleman (Clark) I don’t even know. I’ve never seen him before tonight.” Wednesday’s vote came after the board listened to seven individuals speak on the matter in open session, and several more during an hour-long closed session. Five of the seven people who publicly spoke supported Stewart’s rehiring, including 2007 Jacksonville High graduate Andrea Beets, who had been one of the coach’s most vocal critics two years ago when the board voted 6-1 to rehire Stewart.

“People change,”

Beets said. “At the time (2008), I didn’t think it was right (to retain Stewart),” said Beets. “But now when I look back, I am happy to have had that experience with coach Stewart. I forgive and forget.” Beets wrapped up her comments by asserting that she neither suffers from low self-esteem nor is in an abusive relationship, countering a theory cited by Erica Coleman of Murrayville, who said that players who experience intimidation in their youth have a higher tendency to end up in abusive relationships as adults. Coleman spoke earlier in the evening, charging that her junior-high aged daughter experienced verbal abuse while playing seventh-grade volleyball at Turner.

“We should not teach our students that verbal abuse is acceptable,” Coleman said, adding that she was transferring her daughter to Our Saviour because of the problems at Turner. Later, Coleman’s daughter addressed the board herself. She said she experienced humiliation from her coaches giggling on the bench while the team was playing poorly, or when one of her coaches mispronounced her name during a public assembly at the junior high. “I felt that the coach mispronounced my name intentionally,” the girl said. Later, Rose Keene — whose husband Steve also spoke, both in public and in closed session — briefly went to the microphone to say that the young girl had been talking about another coach at Turner and not Stewart. None of the four board members voting against Stewart would comment afterward, but Olson did talk about the matter Tuesday evening, shrugging off accusations from Stewart supporters that at least two board members had personal vendettas against the coach.

Volleyball team

“I think you have to define ‘vendetta,'”

Olson said. “In some people’s eyes, it can be defined as a vendetta, and in some people’s eyes, it cannot. If people view it as a vendetta, do the investigation and see it for what it really is.” DeWitt, a member who has sat in both public and closed session meetings about Stewart, saw the process as flawed from the beginning. “It’s the truth and the non-truth,” DeWitt said. “There was nothing there, nothing valid. Just hearsay. (They say) that she’s bullied (players). But you have former players come in, who say it’s not what happened. You have players currently who say it’s not what happened.” DeWitt said there were outside forces influencing the process.

“The thing that bothers me is we’ve taught people in this town, we’ve taught kids in this town that it’s not about accountability or integrity,” said DeWitt. “That if you want to malign somebody, you can get whatever result you want. And that’s not what we’re supposed to be about. We need to be about integrity and being accountable for our actions. Some people choose not to be that way.” Albers said on Tuesday evening he had no personal grudge against Stewart and that, in fact, he’d voted twice before in favor of her rehiring.

But Stewart and her supporters charge that Albers has been behind the effort to oust her since he got on the school board. It simply took him three years to gather enough support on the board, they say. “If Mr. Albers says he doesn’t have a vendetta, why didn’t he ask me any questions?” said Stewart. “Where was he? Why didn’t he ask me? If he’s a board member, he, Mr. Heaton, and this unnamed one, why didn’t they ask me? Simple question. I need answers and they didn’t care, so that shows me they didn’t want to hear the other side.”

A letter to the District 117 school board, from Rose Keene, states that Albers blamed Stewart for getting him removed from the Jacksonville Soccer Club (not the Jacksonville Soccer Association, as was incorrectly reported Wednesday), after an incident at a tournament in Collinsville.

Jacksonville High head soccer coach Steve West wanted to make clear that Albers never was asked to resigned from the JSA. Rather, Albers stepped down from that organization when he decided to run for a position on the school board. “Craig (Albers) has a passion for the game of soccer,” said West. “We need more people like him in the JSA.”

But the JSC is not the JSA, and Stewart believes Albers’ grudge against her began there three years ago. “I totally expected the vote to happen because I knew Craig Albers has been campaigning since three years ago,” said Stewart. “And the board — yeah, I expected it to happen, and I’m glad it’s a good day for Craig Albers, but he’s got to wake up tomorrow.”