A gentle breeze blows through the air. Scattered clouds dissipate the sun’s heat. Someone laughs — a ball rolls briskly through the grass.
Yes, it’s another great day at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Lawn Bowling Club.
“I just think it’s wonderful. We are blessed to have this community centre and we are blessed to have people that run this lawn bowling club,” says enthusiastic club member Teresa Gouett.
“For older people who live in the community, and there’s a lot who live alone, this is a wonderful outing,” she said.
The club is recruiting new members and hosted the first of a two-part open house on Saturday, June 5, to give people a chance to try the sport for free.
“You’re getting exercise and you’re with other people — even in the winter with the indoor mat bowling,” Gouett said, referencing the club’s winter operations inside the centre.
The second open house will be this Sunday, June 12, between 2 and 4 p.m.
There will be an array of snacks and refreshments on site and people can try their hand at lawn bowling and get some free coaching from a club member.
The sense of community the club engenders really stood out when a reporter visited on Saturday.
Members were joking and laughing all afternoon as they got to share one of their favourite activities with strangers.
On top of that, the club is quite scenic, situated behind the community centre and overlooking a large field and nearby vineyards and woodlands.
For many of the older members the combination of being outdoors with a light workout is essential.
“It is good exercise. It’s great for stretching and I do get my steps in,” club member Rose Connolly said.
“It’s gentle exercise, outdoors in the fresh air,” club secretary Angela Lynch said.
That gentle physical activity was the reason NOTL resident Nancy McCree was there.
“The need for some exercise brought me here today. To exercise, to loosen up a little bit and to challenge myself in terms of flexibility and to gain some muscular strength,” McCree, a prospective club member, said as she tried her hand at the sport.
She was still undecided about joining the club but rolled many balls and shared many laughs with the club members.
Perhaps the most touted benefit of the club is its role as a social bastion for NOTL residents, many of them older seniors and perhaps cut off by distance or time from the ones they love.
“There’s a lot of little old ladies living by themselves — probably men too. I’m just saying it’s good to be able to mix with other people,” Gouett said.
‘We’re a social club. Not very competitive,” said Lynch.
Club member Patricia Reese said she switched from her Niagara Falls club to the NOTL one purely for the social atmosphere.
“It’s fun. It’s a social, a very social club,” Reese said as she took a quick break from helping newcomers.
Lynch said it is one of the few organizations in the community centre that has been allowed to put its own personal touch on the indoor facilities.
The club has access to a multi-purpose room inside the centre for its members to get out of the heat and enjoy each other’s company. The room has been adorned with historical pictures dating from the club’s nearly 150-year existence.
Founded in 1877, the NOTL Lawn Bowling Club is one of the oldest in Canada.
Connolly said the club has always been well-liked by those involved but the challenge with keeping it running lies in reminding the community that it even exists.
“It’s a matter of getting people to realize it’s here,” she said.
Anyone interested in attending the open house can show up at the club behind the community centre on June 12 between 2 and 4.
The cost to become a member is $110 per year for NOTL residents but the club is offering 50 per cent off for the first year. New members also get free coaching for two sessions.
Organized bowls take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, but members can access the court any day of the week to play on their own.
“It is great exercise and then you get to socialize and meet a few interesting NOTL characters,” said Connolly.