Play dates aren’t just for kids anymore. They’re for grown women too, according to Donna L. Reed of Browns Ferry. She would certainly know, since she has been attending once, twice, and sometimes even three or four times a week.
“We get out there and just have fun, doing all the things we used to do as children — we jump rope, play hopscotch, hula hoop. We’re just recapturing our childhood and having fun. It’s all about friends, fitness, fellowship and fun.”
The group is called 40+ Double Dutch Club, and local chapters have been popping up in communities all over Georgetown County in recent months, with more on the way. Reed learned about the national organization, which was started in Chicago by Pamela Pelt-Robinson in 2016. “We are a group of women over the age of 40 who get together to get a break from ‘adulating’ by jumping Double Dutch!” the group’s website proclaims. But each group across the nation is a little different, based on the desires of the club members, and the local groups have activities in addition to Double Dutch. They line dance, skip, play hand clapping games and more.
Reed learned about the group through her sister-in-law last year. Reed’s grandmother had recently passed away and the family was gathered for the funeral. She spotted a jump rope in her sister-in-law’s car, which seemed strange to Reed, so she asked her about it.
“I hadn’t jumped Double Dutch since I was a child,” Reed recalled. So they put the jump ropes to use, and Reed’s sister-in-law, who belongs to a club in Raleigh, told her about 40+ Double Dutch.
“I was dealing with a lot of stress from the pandemic, and pain and grief over my grandmother,” Reed said. “It kind of relieved all of that. It helped.”
At age 51, she felt like a kid again, and she wanted to hold on to that feeling. Reed was hooked and she knew she had to share this feeling with other women. She wanted to start a club in Georgetown County, and she didn’t waste any time. She reached out to Pelt-Robinson who still heads the national organization, set up a training session to become a team captain, and started looking for local women to join the group. There was just one more thing: She needed a location.
“It needed to be outdoors, because of COVID. I literally had a dream about this beautiful area in Georgetown, and it had a big parking lot and a lot of green grass, and it was on the water.” She told her husband about her dream and he drove her out to Georgetown County’s Carroll Campbell Marine Complex on Riverwalk Drive, just over the Maryville bridge.
“It was the place I saw in my dream,” she said. “I was so excited.” So she contacted the county’s Parks and Recreation Department and got permission to have her new club meetup at the Marine Complex. The Georgetown County chapter of the 40+ Double Dutch Club met for the first time in September with eight women.
As more got involved in the group, Reed realized there needed to be more opportunities for women with different schedules to attend the meetups. She started looking for other women willing to be team captains and began the process of recruiting captains and setting up teams in communities across the county, using county parks and facilities as meetup locations. There are now groups in Georgetown, Andrews, Browns Ferry, Plantersville, North Santee, South Santee and Andrews, with more on the way.
“It’s crazy how many women are showing up now at the different community meetups,” Reed said. “I think everybody enjoys that feeling of being a kid again and just having fun. For that amount of time, you don’t have to worry about your job, your husband, your kids. You set all that aside for a little while. With COVID and everything, it’s a stress reliever and a way to stay connected with friends.”
As an added bonus, members are making lots of new friends, forming new support systems — and losing weight thanks to the extra activity. Some women, she added, jump three or four days a week by going to meetups in multiple communities.
So far, about 60 women have joined the groups in Georgetown County, ranging in age from 40 to 80+. And Reed is trying to attract more.
“We want women of all colors and all walks of life to come join in on the fun,” she said. “You don’t have to be in shape, and you don’t even have to know Double Dutch. We can teach you, and if you can’t jump, you can turn the rope and enjoy the fellowship. Just come out to an event, and I promise you’ll want to keep coming back.”
Anyone interested in joining one of the local groups can contact Reed at (843) 240-1245 or connect with her via Facebook at facebook.com/donna.l.reed.39.