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Meetings & Team Building Both On Agenda In MA's Pioneer Valley


Whether outdoor pursuits are part of the agenda or to be enjoyed in leisure hours, Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley offers a wealth of options for meeting planners looking to incorporate some recreational fun into their itinerary.  The Valley, which is located in between the Berkshires (to the west) and central Massachusetts (to the east), is comprised of three counties, Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin, that stretch from the border of Connecticut to the border of Vermont.  Within this region there are numerous properties that offer everything from zip lining to kayaking, skiing to hiking and more, which can provide memorable team-building experiences.

The northernmost region, in and around Franklin county, boasts an abundance of natural and unspoiled landscapes. For fun along the Deerfield River, head north to Charlemont and visit Zoar Outdoor ( www.zoaroutdoor.com ), where groups can learn to kayak, try rock climbing, practice canoeing techniques or hone their whitewater rafting skills on the Deerfield River.  Zoar offers a team of professional instructors who will help participants of all skill levels.  Also utilizing the Deerfield for exciting rafting adventures is Moxie Outdoor Adventures ( www.moxierafting.com ), where visitors can rent rafts, kayaks and "funyaks," which are similar to kayaks but are inflatable and have open cockpits in both single and double designs.  Crab Apple Whitewater ( www.crabapplewhitewater.com ) also provides excursions along the Deerfield, from mild to pulse-racing river adventures.  These three outfits are usually open from April through October.

One of Costa Rica's most popular pastimes has come to western Massachusetts with the installation of zip lines at two attractions in Charlemont.  Participants can breeze through the trees at Berkshire East Canopy Tours ( www.berkshireeast.com ) at speeds of up to fifty miles an hour and nearly 200 feet in the air.  Deerfield Valley Canopy Tours ( www.deerfieldzipline.com ) has three-hour tours for groups of eight people plus two guides.  While waiting for their turn in the air, groups can play volleyball, tether ball or go kayaking.  Zip line canopy tours are usually suited to anyone age 10 or up who are able to hike a short distance downhill, be in reasonable physical shape, and weigh between 70-250 lbs.

Another fun way to build camaraderie and friendly competition can be found at Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting ( www.pioneervalleykarting.com ) in Hatfield.  The premier karting facility in western Massachusetts features a 23,000-sq. ft. track area where karts can reach speeds up to 40 m.p.h.  Each race is timed down to the .001 of a second and each driver will receive proper safety equipment as well as a time sheet after their race.

There are numerous bike and walking trails to explore in the Valley, including the CT River Bikeway/Walkway that runs from the north to the south end of Springfield, the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail ( www.manhanrailtrail.org ) in Easthampton and the Norwottuck Rail Trail ( www.mass.gov/dcr ) that spans several towns in Hampshire County.

Despite its location in the urban center of the Pioneer Valley, Springfield College offers the East Campus Outdoor Learning Center ( www.spfldcol.edu/resources/east-campus/index#.UpzvtI0o6B8 ) for groups interested in team building.  This adventure-based training and development program was created to integrate the advantages of outdoor recreation, individual and group leadership, adventure training and focused human development through its use of 57 acres of forest ecosystem, rope courses, an outdoor fire pit with seating for 200, picnic and camping facilities, waterfront with boathouse, canoes, kayaks and rowboats, and an authentic southwestern Pueblo.

Those seeking a more relaxed outing can enjoy a round of golf at some of the finest courses in New England.  The Ranch Golf Club, located in Southwick, was ranked among the best in the nation by Golf Digest ( www.theranchgolfclub.com ) and the Crumpin-Fox Club ( www.golfthefox.com ) in Bernardston was rated "Number one public access course in Massachusetts" according to Golfweek Magazine

Recreational fun is found each season, and winter is no exception.  Skiers can delight in a visit to one of New England's top ski resorts,Jiminy Peak ( www.jiminypeak.com ), located in Hancock to take in some great runs.  When the powder's gone, Jiminy transforms into a Mountain Adventure Park with a year-round Mountain Coaster, and features Segway Tours and mountain biking, among other activities.  Northfield Mountain Recreational Area ( www.firstlightpower.com/northfield ) in Northfield offers ideal conditions for cross country skiing.

No matter what your meeting needs may be, in or out of the convention venue, Springfield and the Pioneer Valley have an endless array of choices, and the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau stands ready to handle your requirements and details with the utmost of professionalism.  To inquire about bringing your group to the region, contact Director of Sales Alicia Szenda at (413) 755-1346 or alicia@valleyvisitor.com .  For regional information, visit the Bureau's web site at www.valleyvisitor.com

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western MA, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization that generates economic growth for Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley by marketing the region as an ideal destination for meetings and conventions, group tours, sports and leisure travel.
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