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Photo by @barbaraapreston

Amy Petrie just really, really loves South Jersey… and Instagram.

The Gloucester County resident is the founder of South Jersey Adventures, an organization of SJ history buffs, hikers, photographers and thrill-seekers that began on social media.

south jersey adventures

Amy Petrie

“It began a year ago as a feature page on Instagram,” Petrie says. “I realized the existing South Jersey pages really weren’t giving us any love. We have so much to offer here, so I said, ‘We’re going to make a feature page that’s specifically South Jersey and that’s it.’”

The Instagram page quickly grew, gaining nearly 6,000 followers, and is home to a tight-knit community of SJ devotees who range in age from middle schoolers to senior citizens. Petrie began organizing outings, called “instameets,” for the adventurers.

“The idea is to get together and take a bunch of photos of an area in South Jersey they wouldn’t normally visit,” Petrie says. “We’ve been to Whitesbog, WheatonArts and Cultural Center, even a really cool junkyard in Egg Harbor City. I like to bring our members to the area, tell them the history of the place, and then post it all over Instagram and help spread the word so other people can come and check it out.”

Petrie, who formerly another SJ-focused social group, South Jersey Hiking, recently decided to take South Jersey Adventures to the next level. The organization has applied for nonprofit status, and Petrie says they hope to establish a stewardship program for some of SJ’s lesser-known places of interest.

“We’d be looking to have one or two of these stewards for each county,” Petrie says. “They’d be people who are deeply interested in the history and biodiversity of South Jersey, who could work with local groups and historical societies to help enlighten people about everything we have here.”

Petrie, a mother of three, hopes South Jersey Adventures and groups like it can help kids learn some of the local history she feels is missing from school curriculums – and have fun doing it.

“I was born and raised in Bridgeton, which is steeped in amazing history, but I hated history in school,” Petrie says. “Until I was an adult, I had no idea about the history of the underground railroad here or that George Washington used to hang out here. How can a kid be invested in an area when they don’t really know what it’s made of? If these kids can stand where Harriet Tubman stood, there’s such a deeper connection. This is something these kids need to see so they can really know where they come from.”

Click to see more photos the group members have taken during their South Jersey Adventures.

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