Tofino is luring local dads into the swing of spring by offering free activities for them to enjoy with their kids.
Dad’s Night Out events will be held on Tuesdays kicking off with a May 17 cooking course led by Jesse Blake of Tofino’s Wildside Grill and wrapping up with a June 14 wildlife tracking experience with the Pacific Rim National Park.
The district’s recreation programmer Tracy Vandermolen hopes the free events will help local dads connect with each other while bonding with their kids.
“It’s fun and it’s free and I think we’re in an age where we are getting a little bit apathetic maybe about our participation and things like getting out and meeting new people,” Vandermolen told the Westerly.
“We’re doing a lot of online stuff and maybe we’re not getting outside as much as we can, or trying anything new, and you should go to these events to broaden your horizons, expose your kids to new things and do it together and build that bond.”
Dad’s Night Outs are open to all West Coasters and Vandermolen said transportation could be provided for local First Nations communities. A full list of events can be found in the Tofino Recreation Guides distributed last week as well as at www.tofino.ca.
Registration can be done through the district office at 725-3229.
“Everyone is welcome but please give us a call to let us know you’re coming just so our wonderful volunteers aren’t overwhelmed by people,” Vandermolen said.
The events are all volunteer-led and Vandermolen was not surprised to see an impressive roster of locals step up to support the initiative.
“Every time I’ve reached out and asked for something, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response so I wasn’t surprised; it’s par for the course and part of my really good first impression of Tofino,” she said adding volunteers are a key cog in the community’s recreation and social wheel.
“We’re a small community but we’re a mighty community and if people don’t keep volunteering their time I feel like Tofino might be overrun by people who are just coming here to visit. You have to reach out and offer these things for locals, even if it means a little bit extra time, because it’s going to make it so much more worthwhile in the long run.”
She suggested Tofino’s recreation department is going through a time of “reflection and transition” and is looking to diversify its offerings through community collaboration.
“We feel like we’re maybe not as connected as we could be…so we’d like to connect with everybody if we can and try to make it meaningful and make parks and rec. still relevant in Tofino,” she said.
She hopes to see a large contingent of dads participate in the free experiences, particularly single dads.
“We learned this year that the West Coast of Vancouver Island has 80 per cent more single dads than the average and we were blown away…We want to bring them out give them some support and give them something fun to do that’s free with their kids,” she said.
“In our parks and recreation department, the single dads maybe aren’t on our radar as much and maybe they’re not coming into our programs. There might be financial difficulties or time constraints so we want to offer programs that give us a chance to get to know them and vice versa.”
She said it is important for the department to stay tuned in to the community’s needs. “The more we can pay attention to how our community is changing and what our community wants, the better programs we can offer and then we know that what we’re delivering is something the community actually needs or wants,” she said.
“We’re also in a position to make something happen. Instead of just talking about it, we can make something happen and plan something. That’s what we’re good at; we’re good at programming. We’re really responsive and we can quickly make something happen in town, like Dad’s Night Out.”