TRIPS & EVENTS

Florida GO Gathering

Camping
DATE: Jan 13, 2017 Friday
END DATE: Jan 16, 2017 Monday

Trip/Event Location: Clewiston FL

Trip Leader(s)


JPHiker
Lake Worth, FL United States

Meeting Time: 12:00 PM

Max # People: 100

Trip Guiding / Event Fee: Yes, but only to cover shared expenses, and I too am paying

Difficulty Level:

Easy to Moderate

(Do you qualify to attend with this trip difficulty rating? Click Here.)

Region: South Atlantic

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Disclaimer: The club and its members take no responsibility and will not be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur during club events. Outdoor sports are inherently dangerous and accidents will happen. By joining the club or participating in any events posted on the GayOutdoors web page you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. Anyone with an internet connection can post a trip on the GayOutdoors web site. It is your responsibility to determine if this person has the experience and competence to lead the trip. GayOutdoors does not certify or confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips.
Be Prepared: Please be prepared to be self-sufficient. Have your own provisions such as first aid kit, food, water, extra clothing for unplanned weather, etc. Have your EMERGENCY CONTACT SHEET completed and in your backpack; it may save your life, and help reach someone who greatly cares!
Pace: There may be activities when the group is either slower or faster than your current ability. Please know that because this is a group activity, it's hard to accommodate everyone's pace perfectly. Our desire is not to leave anyone, however there have been times when it is in the best interest of all to split up. Please do your part by knowing your own abilities, communicating with the organizer head of time if you would like to start early and have us catch up or fine with finishing on your own.
Summary

Florida GO Gathering MLK Weekend 2017

Looking for a fun winter getaway with outdoor oriented gay men, then check out our third annual Florida Gay Outdoors camping adventure over the MLK weekend in January 2017.  We have again reserved a large group campsite at the always popular Vitambi Springs Resort and Camp starting Friday January 13th, thru Monday January 16th, 2017.  As with past FL GO Gatherings, expect to enjoy a full weekend of activities with plenty of time to socialize with old friends and make new ones. As always, we plan to have a wide range of activities appropriate for the area, and for different levels of expertise and fitness.
At the last GO Gathering, these activities included an exciting tour of a bird sanctuary at a restored Florida wetland; a hike at the Florida Panther Refuge; a hike along the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail; bike riding on nature trails; an evening hike on the grounds at Vitambi, followed by a group bonfire (which unfortunately got rained out); and a number of other impromptu events.
Vitambi is a privately owned gay campground located approximately 20 miles south of Lake Okeechobee and the city of Clewiston, FL. It is easily accessible to most of the major urban areas in Florida, and it is approximately a 90 minute drive from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, and from West Palm Beach. It is about 2.5 hours from Orlando or Tampa. 
The campground sits in the middle of the vast agricultural area around Lake Okeechobee, and offers an ideal Florida rural getaway with modern amenities in a tropical forested setting. The property is quite large with only a portion developed. Amenities at the Main Lodge feature a full restaurant and bar (Bolo Café & Bar), Wi-Fi access, library lounge, and a general store. Other amenities at the campground include a heated pool, a modern shower house, a steam room, a well equipped gym, and other amenities. There are also a number of hiking trails and a couple of lakes within the property, for impromptu hikes, fishing, canoeing, exploring and wildlife viewing. This region of South Florida is a haven for wintertime bird watchers. 
Vitambi has a wide array of accommodations ranging from primitive tent sites, rustic cabins, bunkhouse/barracks, RV sites, cabins with full electric, 2 & 3 bedroom rental homes and the Pine Tree Inn with eight private rooms in a dorm style setting with shared areas. All accommodations except for the primitive sites include linen service. For further information on Vitambi, please feel free to check their website: www.vitambi.com. 
The group campsite we have reserved for the GO Gathering is the same one we used the last time:  Tamaho Mesa, which is one of the primitive campsites at Vitambi Springs. This western-themed area consists of several large tent sites, in both sunny and tree shaded locations as well as five rustic cabins. These cabins are indeed rustic and have no electricity.  They do have screened windows to keep the bugs out, and two to three bunks with outdoor quality mattresses in each cabin. As a GO Gathering participant, you will be guaranteed a camping site at Tamaho Mesa, though please note that individual tent sites or cabins will be on a first come first saved basis. 
Potable water and flush toilets are available at our Tamaho Mesa campsite. Vitambi Springs runs a R.O. water treatment facility producing exceptional quality water. The pool area and shower house is a short walk away from Tamaho, as is the Main Lodge and Bolo Café & Bar. 
Vitambi Springs is a membership resort serving primarily gay men. Gay Outdoors members will receive the required Vitambi annual membership as part of the general cost of camping at Tamaho Mesa, which will be $25 for the entire weekend.  However, if you prefer not to camp, and to make other arrangements, such as renting a room at The Inn, a modern cabin, house, or any of the other available options mentioned, you will have to make these arrangements separately, and the cost will be more, depending on the accommodations.  If you are interested in making other arrangements, check the Vitambi website for cost and availability of these sites, or by calling Vitambi Springs directly at (863) 983-8488.
We have also arranged for a $50 meal package with Vitambi, which includes three dinners, three lunches, and three breakfasts.  This is entirely optional, but highly recommended if you will not be cooking meals at your site, as the nearest restaurants are in Clewiston, approximately 20 miles away. The Bolo Café restaurant at Vitambi has a good variety of standard options and nightly specials. They are open from 6-8pm and may be able to accommodate later arrivals with advance notice.  It can also accommodate vegetarian preferences, but please let the restaurant staff know in advance.

Schedule for the weekend: 

Friday January 13th 
Upon arrival, check-in at the reception desk in the Main Lodge; this will include a brief park orientation and directions to your campsite. 
7:00pm Kickoff - Wine Toast in the Bongo Bar.   Your Gay Outdoors hosts will organize a welcoming social hour to meet new friends and reacquaint yourself with some of the weekend participants you may already know. Vitambi Springs will advertise this weekend as a GO sponsored event for all men interested in nature, the active lifestyle and meeting other outdoor oriented buddies. The bar is a fun place to be on Friday evenings where there are organized games, outdoor patio firepit, eclectic music and a good opportunity to meet the other guests of the campground. After the social hour, you may choose to continue the party or go back to our campsite to hang out or sleep. 

Saturday January 14th is our first full day of activities. Some activities are already being planned, and these will be listed on the Gay Outdoors website in the usual format of trip announcements. Within a half hour drive of Vitambi there are numerous venues for activities such as an airboat swamp ride at the near Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, or hiking/biking on the scenic trail around Lake Okeechobee. There are also hikes to do inside Vitambi Springs, and there is always the heated pool, if you simply just want to chill out for a couple of hours.
After the day’s activities, join us for dinner at the restaurant in Bolo Café, and stay afterwards for Vitambi’s traditional Saturday night bonfire, followed by fun & games at the bar. 

Sunday January 15th is our second day of activities. We are working on getting some excursions organized, such as canoe/kayaking on the Fish Eating Creek, or bicycling on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.  Again, these will be noted in the Gay Outdoors website, as they become organized. After dinner, we will gather around the fire ring in front of Tamaho Mesa’s cabins, for our own campfire.  If you feel inclined, please feel free to bring beer, wine, or non-alcoholic beverages to share with your friends.  Vitambi is working to get their resident astronomer, Bill available that evening with his high powered telescopes to view planets, stars, nebulas and galaxies. 

Monday January 16th is a farewell breakfast and check out day. 


What To Bring: 
If you are tent camping, bring the usual gear to make your stay comfortable. At a minimum you should bring: a tent, sleeping pad and bag (this is Florida, but it does get chilly at night in January), flashlight (it gets very dark at night), toiletries, towel, hiking gear with sturdy shoes, or other appropriate activity oriented gear. The pool area is clothing optional, but if you prefer to wear swimming trunks, bring those too. If you plan to stay in one of the  campsite’s rustic cabins, you will still need to bring gear as noted above except for the tent. If you plan to cook your dinners and/or breakfasts at the campsite, then you should plan on bringing a camping stove with fuel, and a cooler to keep your foodstuff fresh. Ice, charcoal, snacks and toiletry items are available for purchase at the onsite general store.
For the daily activities, bring appropriate gear.  For example, for a hike on the Florida Panther Preserve, the usual gear should include at a minimum, a pair of comfortable hiking shoes, some type of sun cover, water & snacks.
Please note that there are no bicycles available for rental at Vitambi or in Clewiston, the nearest town, so if you wish to do some trail biking, you will need to bring your own.

Signing Up: 
If you want to join Gay Outdoors at its third Florida Gathering, this is what you need to do: 
1-Sign-up first at the Gay Outdoors website, whether you are camping or making other arrangements directly with Vitambi. 
2-If you are camping with us at Tamaho for the three nights of the MLK weekend, send me a check for $25 to reserve a spot at the campsite (though again note that specific cabins and/or tentsites are on a first come first use basis). I will be submitting the list of signees to Vitambi in early January, so please make sure your check gets to me by the end of December or by January 2nd at the latest.  I will send the address for mailing the check via separate e-mail to participants as they sign up.
  If you want to stay at Tamaho for a few days before or after the GO Gathering, please make those arrangements separately with Vitambi, as your $25.00 is a special Gay Outdoors rate, and it only covers the three nights of the Gathering.
3-If you decide not to camp with us, and to make other arrangements with Vitambi, I advice doing so at your earliest convenience.  Remember that January is a popular month at Vitambi, and Florida in general, and that some of these other accommodations (RV sites in particular), get reserved far in advance, and tend to fill up quickly. 
4-On the day you arrive at Vitambi, check in at the registration desk in the Main Lodge.  They will have a list of the paid participants, so just tell them who you are.  If you decide to take advantage of the meal plan, you can pay them at that time with cash or credit card.
5-If you want to organize or lead activities, please feel free to post them on the GO website.  Mention on your announcement that you are organizing the activity as part of the GO Weekend.
We need trip leaders to organize a number of activities for different levels of fitness. After all, Gay Outdoors is an all volunteer organization, and the success of this first Florida GO Gathering depends on your willingness to participate, and have fun.

 

Driving directions to the location and spot to meet at:

Check the Vitambi Springs website for driving directions from all points in Florida:  www.vitambi.com

Trip Leader

JPHiker

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


Lake Worth, FL


United States

members signed up for this event

smithdj66

Outdoor Fitness Level: Easy to Moderate


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Virgin White

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bithlojoe

Outdoor Fitness Level: Easy to Moderate


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Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


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Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate


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doc

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate


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andrew1982

Outdoor Fitness Level: Strenuous


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dougdutch

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate


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wmasshiker

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


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guest member
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Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


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robski

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


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grwandering54

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate


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guest member
chip

Outdoor Fitness Level: Easy


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joepny654

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate


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BuckO

Outdoor Fitness Level: Moderate to Strenuous


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Discuss This Trip/Event
JPHiker Posted Jan 12, 2017 at 10:47 PM

One last piece of advice. If you are camping at Tamaho Mesa, bring a flashlight. It gets very dark there at night, and you'll need the light to get around.

JPHiker Posted Jan 9, 2017 at 9:22 AM

The long range weather forecast for the Clewiston area calls for moderating temperatures: in the 70's during the day, and in the low 60's at night...and no rain. Perfect weather, though to follow up on Dutch's concerns, do bring some fleece, and a nice warm sleeping bag, because it can get very chilly at night out in the Glades.

joepny654 Posted Jan 8, 2017 at 11:26 AM

I will be leaving early Wednesday morning probably stopping a couple of nights to break up the trip. Willing to give guys a ride if you are not to far from my main route down. Hey Dougdutch. Its 19 here and only going to be 20 today so anything has got to be better. Lol

dougdutch Posted Jan 8, 2017 at 9:33 AM

Waking up this morning in South Florida I sure hope that it warms up a bit before next weekend. Bit chilly this morning. Either way, I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend at Vitambi! See you next weekend!

JPHiker Posted Nov 1, 2016 at 6:32 AM

Thanks for the responses on the t-shirt idea. Apparently there is an option where you can buy the t-shirts online directly from the merchant, once I register the design with them. I will look into it, and let you all know. Btw, are any of you guys graphic designers?

Mrwritenow Posted Aug 18, 2016 at 12:17 AM

I have tickets to see a performance Friday night. So I will arrive early Saturday and stay through Monday. Looking forward to this again!

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