- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thrill-seeking singles who find themselves bored by the typical movie, concert and dinner dates have found a more exciting way to meet people — adventure dating.

A cottage industry is emerging to meet the needs of adventurous singles who want to leave boredom behind.

Adventure dating is about “seeing people in possibly their true light, or possibly out of their comfort zone,” said Scott Peterson, marketing director of River Runners, a Buena Vista, Colo., company that operates on 5 acres on the banks of the Arkansas River. On Sundays, singles come to run the rapids, play beach volleyball, cook out or soak in the nearby hot springs after their communal river adventure.

“It’s just stepping out of the norm from, ‘Hey, wanna go to a movie?’ ” Mr. Peterson said.

The industry brings singles outdoors and into contact with other adventure seekers.

Mr. Peterson met his fiancee while working together conducting whitewater rafting tours for River Runners. Two other couples on staff, including the owners Jon and Stacey Donaldson, met while on rafting and other outdoor adventures.

Mr. Peterson said adventure dating provides excellent opportunities to see the “real” person on a first date.

Andria Davis, president of Brushy Mountain Publishing, met her future husband, Leland, while kayaking. Their second date was hiking in the Grand Canyon.

“The adventure of it is what made us like each other because it was an intense situation and we were both relaxed and having fun and we enjoyed being in an intense situation together,” Mrs. Davis said.

At one point on the kayak trip, Mrs. Davis injured her shoulder, forcing her to climb out of her boat and make it back to the car on foot. Mr. Davis knew the way out of the river gorge and offered to help her.

“By the time we got out of that gorge, which took several hours, we knew we really liked each other,” Mrs. Davis said.

The Davises have been married a year and a half, and they continue to a lead active lifes. He runs Brushy Mountain’s Web site, while she publishes their geographical adventure guides and distributes her yoga videos. They both continue to guide groups on outdoor adventures.

“It helped us have a stronger marriage and a stronger relationship knowing that we’ve been through difficult times together already,” Mrs. Davis said.

On the calmer waters of the Chesapeake Bay, Washington-area singles can mingle while learning how to sail with Getaway Sailing.

“It’s just a really fantastic social event, especially for young professionals who are looking for people that are active,” said Margy Hannon, assistant director of operations with Getaway Sailing. “You can be as involved as you want to be.”

The Baltimore-based company offers sailing instruction, charters, group sails and even summer camps. The weekly Friday Evening Social Sailings are BYOB, providing a happy-hour alternative for “outdoor adventure types” who would like a chance to work together while they get to know each other.

“Sailing is for the person who is really looking for an adventure,” Ms. Hannon said. “You’re kind of at the mercy of the wind.”

A bonus: The night out on the water is light on the wallet, at $35 per person for several hours of sunset sailing.

Even the cyberworld is meshing with the great outdoors.

Outdoordating.com is making it easier for active singles to find others who enjoy sailing, hiking or taking riding lessons. The two-year-old company offers modern-day Annie Oakleys and Jeremiah Johnsons free space to post a personal profile, free messaging and a database of adventure dating places.

Christo Ganchev said he and business partner Marin Estomov started the site in their basement, inspired by the way the outdoors encourages people to open up and reveal their true nature - an essential for dating.

“I think every one of us has these child memories when we’re outdoors, and some of us have forgotten this because we live a busy life in the city,” Mr. Ganchev said.

Outdoordating.com hopes its members’ expeditions help them “open themselves first, enjoy themselves and then maybe they can meet somebody.”

Members sign on for free, communicate with others on the site and then leave the computer behind to escape into nature.

“Everybody loves adventures,” Mr. Ganchev said. “Everybody has a desire to go somewhere and escape from the daily routine.”

Events and Adventures, a Florida company with a chapter in the District, provides almost daily activities for area singles. Participants must be single and have a desire to have fun doing what “you either like to do anyway or that you want to learn how to do,” said spokesman Terry Murphy.

Mr. Murphy pointed out the pros and cons of traditional dating services, including safety concerns with Internet dating and a negative stigma attached to online matchmaking services.

“Events and Adventures offers a low-stress alternative to meet like-minded singles,” he said.

This company has had several successes, he said, with couples who either married or established long-lasting relationships.

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