We Touch Hearts!

♥  We Touch Hearts by creating over 20,000 hours of family time every year through our Simply Outdoor Experiences Program!  ♥ 

Simply Outdoor Experiences provides all the essential tools to be successful in the great outdoors which leads to being successful throughout your life. Through our mentoring and teaching, we strive to give all families a meaningful outdoor experience that will last a lifetime!

Our Mission Statement:

"Empowering kids and adults with the knowledge and resources to create positive outdoor experiences."

Upcoming Events:

All events are open to the general public unless otherwise stated.  We encourage everyone to participate in our events and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us for more information.

Our Heroes on the Water Event will be September 10-13, 2015 at Geigers Trails End Resort!


Would you like to Donate?


Simply Outdoor Experiences is a non-profit organization designed to help people enjoy the great outdoors.  We accept donations of all kinds and they are greatly appreciated!  We accept monetary donations as well as new or used fishing gear, new or used hunting gear, and anything that has to do with the outdoors.  We also accept items for silent auctions to help raise money to fund our events.  Thank you in advance for your donation!

Why are we here?


As a mentor, we have the ability to mold the lives of the people that we work with.  We create opportunities for children and adults to become successful together without all the financial investment up front.  This makes us different.  We allow them the opportunity to find out if they enjoyed the activity and then they have someone to share it with afterwards.  By giving them the proper training, we will help them to go out and mentor another person somewhere in the future using the skills we have taught them.  Young or old, we all just want to find things that we can do well and that bring us joy.  We just open the door to a world of possibilities and opportunities with no pressure or expectations.

What is a Mentor you might ask?

A Mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.

  ~John Crosby~

Fishing Has No Boundaries 2015


Pictures from our 2015 HopeKids Event on Orchard Lake


Heroes on the Water 2014 at Geiger's Trails End Resort


If you click on a picture below, it will let you look at all of the pictures in this album!

          Simply Outdoor Experiences sponsored the 2014 Heroes on the Water Event at Geiger’s Trails End Resort on beautiful Bowstring Lake near Deer River, MN to give back to our Veterans who have made sacrifices for our freedom.  Over 30 Veterans were treated like kings and queens at Geiger’s since the owners Bill and Erin Charlton exclusively closed the resort to host this wonderful event strictly for Veterans, Volunteers, and Simply Outdoor Experiences Pro-Staff.  This event was free to our Veterans which included lodging, meals, and all the fishing they could handle.

          This event took place September 4th-7th 2014.  Veterans traveled from Illinois, Iowa, and from all over the state of Minnesota.  Thursday was check in and as the Veterans arrived they were greeted with big smiles, given a blue t-shirt, and thanked for their services.  Once they were settled into their cabins they were paired up with a fishing guide and out on the water they went.  They caught lots of fish and told lots of stories as they enjoyed the beautiful day.  Dinner was at 5pm and every one gathered together to be officially welcomed by Simply Outdoor Experiences Executive Director, Woody Sankey.  After Woody was finished Erin stepped forward and welcomed the Veterans and gave them the run down about the resort and any other needed information for the weekend.  It was emotional, heart felt and tears were shed.  A bonfire was started and stories just started flying around the campfire.  New friendships were being made and it was a great start to an amazing weekend.

          Friday morning breakfast was served from 8am-10am and then everyone went fishing!  A couple of local fishing guides came each day to take some Veterans out fishing too.  There were 12 boats and a pontoon filled with our Heroes on the Water fishing and having fun!  What an amazing site to see.  Everyone caught fish, took tons of pictures, and had a real good time. Dinner was served at 6pm so everyone came in to clean their fish, have dinner, and continue with the story telling!  Erin decided to auction off Woody’s Cowboy hat and the highest bidder would get to tell him what he needed to do to get it back from them.  The bid went up to $300 and as Jacob Jorgenson paid up he told Woody he would have to jump in the lake.  So Woody went down on the dock as all eyes were on him and jumped in the lake!  At that time the bid was matched, then added to several more times by Veterans and Volunteers.  The final amount of donations towards next year’s Heroes on the Water Event was $1335.00.  A huge Thank You to Everyone who donated!  Veterans started playing basketball, bean bag toss, and then a good old game of baseball broke out.  There were plenty of things to do to keep busy.  A bonfire was lit and everyone sat around the fire while Erin made some pies for desert.  What a way to relax as the day came to an end.

          Saturday morning breakfast was served and everyone went out fishing again!  Some people from town donated their time to give the Veterans massages so they signed up for a time and they were pampered even more!  This was such a hit with the Veterans.  They really enjoyed free massages and the relaxation that it brought them.  As the Veterans and volunteers came in for dinner, we had a pig roasting all day which was donated for this event.  They took the pig out and carved it up with all of us standing around and taking pictures.  It tasted so good and it really was a treat!  After we ate, we arranged everyone for a huge group photo.  All the Veterans wore their blue t-shirts and all volunteers wore their red t-shirts.  What a beautiful site to see as everyone smiled for the camera.  The t-shirts were donated by My KD Company LLC owned by Joanne Zacharias.  Lots of pictures were taken to capture these amazing memories.  As this was our last night together, everyone joined in around the campfire.  Address and phone numbers were exchanged, more stories told, tears were shed, but most of all memories were made.  No one wanted to leave because this was such an amazing event.  The Veterans thanked staff and volunteers a countless number of times yet we as staff and volunteers were thanking them for their sacrifices and service.  The Veterans were so appreciative of everything that they had experienced the past few days, and it was sad to see it come to an end.

          Sunday was check out day and breakfast was at 8am.  Everyone gathered together to share one more meal together.  Boats were pulled out of the water and loaded, trucks were packed up, and tents were taken down as the clean-up process began.  Lots of tears were shed this morning, tears of joy and tears of sadness.  There was a WWII Veteran who was 92 years old that came over and gave me a hug before he left saying “I can’t thank you enough” as he cried.  As I started to cry I said “I can’t thank you enough.”  The feelings were mutual throughout camp.  Simply Outdoor Experiences goal is “Touching Hearts and Make Memories” and this we did.  As the Veterans left Geiger’s Trails End Resort they took with them the memories that they had created the past few days, new friendships, and new experiences that touched their hearts that they will share with their friends and family.  We all became one big Family and this was our goal.  Heroes on the Water 2014 was a Huge Success and we can’t wait to do it again next year.

          Thank You cannot be said enough to the local Veterans who wanted to volunteer their time to do all of the cooking for this event.  They brought in their cookers, grills, everything they needed and really did a tremendous job!

          We would like to thank all of the following donors – Simply Outdoor Experiences, Geiger’s Trails End Resort, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, My KD Company LLC, Orty’s Custom Meats, Bill & Erin Charlton, David & Loretta Zacharias, Riley’s Cannibal Junction, Body in Balance, Fred’s Bait, VFW Post 9703, Marcel, MN, VFW Post 1764, Big Fork, MN, American Legion, Post 456, Boy River, MN, US Foods, Sunny Fresh Eggs, Lakewood Lodge, Bill & Cheri Kunshier, Laurie& Garry Hoehn, Kerry & Mary Kvalevog, and Prime Time Signs.

          We could not have had such a successful event without our donors, sponsors, volunteers, staff members, family, and friends.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping make this year’s Heroes on the Water Event a huge success!

HopeKids on Mille Lacs 2014! 


Veterans on Mille Lacs 2014


Simply Outdoor Experiences sponsored the Veterans on Mille Lacs 2014 fishing trip at McQuoids Inn.  We did two launches one in the morning and one in the afternoon on Beautiful Lake Mille Lacs.  Veterans from all over the state of Minnesota came to McQuiods Inn and spent the day fishing and catching.  We had a great time out on the water!

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Simply Outdoor Experiences takes the students from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community on a fishing trip!


HopeKids Fishing Event on Lake Mille Lacs 2013


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Simply Outdoor Experiences sponsored the HopeKids fishing event on beautiful Lake Mille Lacs.  It was held at McQuoids Inn located in Isle, MN.  We had 47 participants and we filld up two new launches.  We went out on the lake and caught a bunch of fish!  The children had a blast catching the fish and taking pictures with them.  We grilled hot dogs for lunch on the launches so their fishing wasn't interrupted.  Everyone caught fish and we had a 100% success rate!  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank all of our Pro-Staff members, HopeKids volunteers and family members, and the excellent staff from McQuoids Inn for volunteering their time to make this day a huge success.  We created lots of amazing memories for these children that will last a lifetime!   

Brothers To The End Donation


Dan Infante, a member of Brothers To The End, participated in our 2013 HopeKids fishing event on Lake Mille Lacs.  Brothers To The End is a Motorcycle Club based in Minnesota that rides and raises money in support of our military and it's veterans.  Dan made a donation in the amount of $400.00 to Simply Outdoor Experiences because he believes in what we do.  We would like to thank Dan and Brothers To The End for this donation.  We really appreciate it when people see the good that we do and donations like this help us to continue touching hearts and making memories!! 

A Surprise Donation


These two gentlemen, Mark and Rick Sanchez, were camping at McQuoids Inn while we were holding our HopeKids fishing event.  They asked us what we were doing there and about Simply Outdoor Experiences.  We told them about our Non-Profit Organization and about the HopeKids event.  They were so moved by our story that they donated $100.00 to Simply Outdoor Experiences on the spot and shook our hands and thanked us for doing what we do.  What a surprise it was to us that they wanted to contribute to our Organization because our story had touched them.  We would like to thank these two gentlemen for taking the time to ask us about what we do and then show their generosity in return.  It's people like you that help keep our Dream alive!!

Simply Outdoor Experiences participated in the Safari Club International Bass Fishing Tournament on Lake Minnetonka!

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Simply Outdoor Experiences Pro-Staffers participated in the Safari Club International Bass Fishing Tournament on Lake Minnetonka.  There were 6 SOE participants paired up in 3 boats with professional bass fishing guides provided by Jason Holmer of Bass Utopia.  The participants fished from 11:00am till 4:00pm.  The weigh-in took place at Bayview Event Center at 4:00pm.  Joanne Zacharias and Shelly Erickson took first place with a total weight of 18.12 lbs.  Shelly Erickson caught the biggest bass weighing 5.46 lbs.  Woody Sankey and Brian Koshenina took second place with a total weight of 12.92 lbs.  A pig roast and Summer Party followed put on by the Safari Club International.  There was a silent auction and several raffles throughout the evening.  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank everyone who participated in this event!   

Fishing Has No Boundaries July 2013

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Simply Outdoor Experiences sponsored the Fishing Has No Boundaries July 2013 Event.  It took place at the Kraemer Residence on Big Fish Lake in Richmond, MN.  What is Fishing Has No Boundaries?  It is a day designed for our friends with disabilities and special needs to enjoy the great outdoors using adaptive equipment to fit their individual needs.  We have adaptive equipment on hand should the need arise to allow each person to have a memorable day on the water.  We arrived in the morning for a light breakfast and then took a group photo.  We split up the participants and volunteers between 12 boats and pontoons.  Everyone went out fishing and had a great time.  We had two different lunch times for the participants and volunteers to come in and eat.  We served grilled burgers and hot dogs, chips, cookies, pop and water.  Then it was time to go back out fishing!  We caught lots of fish and took all kinds of pictures.  We had 23 special friends participate this year and all of them caught fish!  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank Albie and Kathy Kraemer for hosting the event and all of the volunteers who helped this event a success!!  

It's a Small World!


What a small world!!  On Wednesday at the Veterans launch on Lake Mille Lacs Joanne Zacharias, the Event Coordinator for SOE, got to meet Grandpa Larry.  He was the only vet to catch a fish that morning on his launch.  On Saturday at the Fishing Has No Boundaries Event on Big Fish Lake, Joanne got to take his grandson Nick fishing in her boat and he caught several fish.  Joanne said, "What an honor it was to be able to fish with both of them only 3 days apart not knowing that they were related until we took this picture!  We will forever have these memories and this photo to remind us that it really is a small world!!!  Thank you both for touching my heart and for all of the memories!!"

Veterans on Mille Lacs 2013

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Simply Outdoor Experiences sponsored the Veterans on Mille Lacs 2013 launches at Dickie's Liberty Beach.  The St. Cloud VA Hospital was responsible for getting veterans signed up for this event and provided transportation to and from Isle, MN.  It was a wild and windy day so we decided to move to a different location so we would be out of the wind.  We moved down the lake to Flagship where it was calm at the dock so our veterans would be safe getting on to the launches.  We loaded two launches in the morning and one launch in the afternoon.  We grilled hotdogs on the launches and served them chips, cookies, lemonade, and water.  The walleyes were hard to find, but each launch did catch 1 walleye and had several bites.  The veterans really enjoyed themselves sharing their stories and making new friends.  Fishing is a sport that brings people together and even though we didn't catch tons of fish, we created tons of smiles!  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank Dickie's Liberty Beach and their talented staff for taking us out fishing on Lake Mille Lacs.  We would also like to thank all of the volunteers who helped out at this event, without all of you these events would not be possible!  All together, 40 veterans participated in this event and as we touched hearts, memories were made!  

Heroes on the Water 2013 at Wing N Fin Resort

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Our Heroes on the Water Event for 2013 was hosted at Wing N Fin Resort on Beautiful Lake Traverse.  Wing N Fin is owned by Todd and Ellen Johnson and they welcomed us with open arms.  The veterans arrived Thursday with big smiles on their faces!  Each veteran was given a blue t-shirt as they checked in and then given a tour of the resort as well as where they would be staying.  They got settled in and were eager to go fishing.  We had Simply Outdoor Experiences Pro-Staff members and volunteers ready with their boats in the water to take the Veterans out as they arrived.  The fishing was amazing and walleyes were caught by all!

We started the evening with a warm welcome given by Executive Director, Woody Sankey, followed by a few words from our Event Coordinator Joanne Zacharias.  Todd Johnson had dinner ready which he picked up in town from a local cafe and everyone enjoyed their meal.  We sat by the fire and one of the veterans, Andrew Meyer, brought along his guitar and sang some songs for us.  We couldn't have asked for a better evening.  The veterans picked their fishing guides and made plans for the following morning.  When morning came, we had a great breakfast and everyone went fishing.  The weather was great all four days and so was the fishing.  We took lots of pictures and enjoyed everyone's company.

Each of these veterans had a story to tell.  What they had been through, what they had seen, and what they had learned.  We were there with our ears open ready to listen.  We learned so much from these amazing people and we made some pretty amazing memories of our own.  Now we can tell our stories and now they involve these heroic veterans.  We had a special flag raising ceremony and a man named Jim Jung brought his bugle and played a song for each branch of the military.  He also played the Star Spangled Banner and there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd. 

Our Heroes on the Water Event was a complete success and many hearts were touched while memories were being made.  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success.  Without the support of people like you, we could not do what we do best!!     

Watch our Annual Spring Banquet Video 2013 to see what

Simply Outdoor Experiences is all about!

Pictures from our 2013 HopeKids Event on Orchard Lake

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HopeKids is a group that is affected by life threatening illness.  They are a very Special group that is near and dear to all of our hearts.  We learn to take life as it comes and not to sweat the small stuff.  These families are going through very tough times.  It's fun when we get to help them for an afternoon to just hangout and have fun while we do the work.  When you first hear about a sick kid you start to think and feel sorry for them.  Once you meet these kids you learn that pity isn't going to help, but laughter, good food, and fun are the only real medicine that they need!

Simply Outdoor Experiences held the Ice fishing event on Lake Orchard for HopeKids and we had a blast!  Each kid got to pick their fishing hole, pole, and got to catch fish.  We assisted them according to their needs, and fun was had by all.  We took lots and lots of pictures and made lots of noise when fish were caught!  Some of these kids had never been out on the ice or fished before.  We helped create lasting memories and made some heart warming friendships along the way.  We had our fish house out on the lake to assist kids who were in wheel chairs.  These kids loved the fact that they got to fish in the special house! 

We had all of the kids take a break and had a snow creation contest.  Each group could build whatever they wanted to try to win the contest!  There were some really fabulous creations and the judges had a pretty hard time choosing the winner.  The top four creations were awarded prizes, but all of the creations were amazing.  The winning creation was the word "Hope" in the snow with a snow person as the letter o.  They recieved a $50 gift card to target.  All of the kids who participated had a family member or two with them and it was an amazing day. 

Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank Josh from HopeKids for all of his help and for organizing this event.  We would like to thank our SOE Pro-Staff members, everyone who volunteered their time and donated items, and participated in this memorable event.  We touched lots of hearts and created lots of memories that will forever be cherished.  We are looking forward to our summer HopeKids Event which will be held at Dickie's Literty Beach on Beautiful Lake Mille Lacs on August 9.  If you would like more information, please contact Joanne Zacharias at 952-220-0261.       

Pictures from the Monticello Frostbite Challenge kick off party!

Pictures from the Monticello Frostbite Challenge Fishing Derby and Ice Olympics on Pelican Lake 2013!

We had a great couple of days in Monticello, MN for their Frostbite Challenge kick off party, ice olympics, and fishing derby.  Simply Outdoor Experiences co-hosted this event with the Monticello Chamber of Commerce.  The kick off party was held at Pinewood Elementary School Friday evening.  It started off with a seminar given by Scott Seibert and Shelly Holland.  Scott is a member of Ice Team and he brought all of the latest and greatest tools to help show and teach the kids how to become successful on the ice.  Scott and Shelly presented a PowerPoint presentation which was very informational and then they had a question and answer time.  They gave away lots of free stuff and and all of the families were excited for the meet and greet!  Great Job Scott and Shelly!  SOE really appreciates all that you did to help make this event successful!  The SOE Pro-Staff team was there to teach the kids and their families steps from a-z on ice fishing.  They filled up 5 tables with different items and explained how all of the items worked and why they were needed to help them become successful out on the ice!  The kids went from table to table asking questions and welcomed the knowledge.  Great Job SOE Pro-Staff Members!


The kids Ice Olympics was a great hit!  There were several stations that the kids had to go to, learn, and then complete a task.  It was really fun to watch!  SOE would like to thank all of the volunteers for helping out at the kids Ice Olympics!


The Frostbite Fishing Derby had an amazing turnout.  The first 100 kids in attendance recieved an ice fishing rod and reel combo compliments of the Monticello Area Rotery Club!  Lots of door prizes were given away and the top three fish in each category recieved a cash prize.  The big drawing was for the four wheeler and of course everyone wanted to win that!  It was a blustery day with freezing temperatures, but it was an absolutely wonderful experience had by all.  Simply Outdoor Experiences would like to thank everyone who helped make this event a success!

Watch this great Video of Ice Fest at Breezy Point of Grayson from Farmington, MN learn how to use a Vexilar and catch a fish!

Pictures of Ice Fest at Breezy Point 2013

We had a fabulous time at Breezy Point for Ice Fest 2013.  We had our tent set up to teach the electronics portion of our event to anyone who wanted to learn.  The electronics portion included an underwater camera and several Vexilars.  We drilled lots of holes for the kids to pick from to make sure that they could keep moving from hole to hole to find the fish if they needed to.  We taught the kids that using a Vexilar is just like playing a video game.  They really enjoyed learning how to fish this way.  The kids were filled with excitement when they caught a fish, and their whole family got to enjoy the fun!  The Joy that fishing brought to these families was such an amazing thing to experience.  This is just one way that Simply Outdoor Experiences touches hearts! 

How we can be reached:

Please feel free to contact us:    

Woody Sankey, Executive Director



Tammi Sankey, Volunteer Coordinator



Joanne Zacharias, Event Coordinator





















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