Photo Contributed by Schandra Loveless
By Mary Kate Sheppard, Staff Writer—
Spending just one day in the Scenic City makes it abundantly clear that this town fosters a love of the outdoors. With all the hiking, biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities available in Chattanooga, new penitential hobbies are everywhere, but finding a place to start can prove overwhelming.
Sunshine’s Adventures is a local business that has tried to bring a bit of ease to the exploration of the outdoors with their focus on stand-up paddle boards.
Schandra “Sunshine” Loveless founded Sunshine’s Adventures nearly three years ago in Chattanooga, and takes pride in helping first-timers explore the outdoors on stand-up paddle boards.
Loveless is the owner and adventure guide for Sunshine’s Adventures. Before this, she was a full-time worker for Chattanooga Outdoors, a program of the city that manages outdoor recreation.
“Originally, I was a raft guide, and it was the best job I ever had,” Loveless said, “I had always been in love with the idea of starting a business and connecting to nature.”
Sunshine’s Adventures takes guests on guided tours using stand-up paddle boards at various local destinations. One such location is Nickajack Lake, which features a bat cave in which clients can watch dozens of bats come out at night to feed.
“The bat cave is such a unique place,” Loveless said. “I love watching people sit in wonder and awe at this natural phenomenon.”
Most of Loveless’ clients are first-timers who have never paddle boarded before. She said that it is important to begin a new hobby with a guide so that you can ensure a good first experience.
In addition to paid guided tours, Loveless also works with several of Chattanooga’s nonprofit organizations to take groups of kids on the water. It is possible that kids with fewer opportunities might never have an experience like this, so Loveless tries tirelessly to make it memorable.
“The trip usually starts off with the kids scared to death,” Loveless said. “And it typically ends with the kids not wanting to get off the boards.”
She said that she finds it very important to allow them to work through their fears in a very tangible and adventurous way.
As far as COVID-19 goes, Loveless said it actually helped her business since outdoor spaces are the safest place to be.
“I took a lot of advice and made it as safe as possible, but people just want to get back outdoors,” she said.
In the future, Loveless hopes to extend the business to include destination tours to places like Kentucky and Florida. She said that she is also excited to do more business with nonprofit organizations and other women-owned businesses.