Archive for September, 2011

Take Me Outside

Take me outside. Our response to these three words are what will make the difference between a generation of sedentary, obese and uninvolved youth, or happy, healthy and socially engaged ones. As adults we have a responsibility to make the right choice.

There exists an organization, aptly named Take Me Outside, that is working towards getting our kids into the great outdoors. The mission statement on their website takemeoutside.ca says it all.

We believe in the power of outdoor experiential learning. We believe in the countless benefits that having a relationship with nature brings. We believe in getting youth outside and active and hope to promote this message through various means of advocacy, including an apparel initiative to get students outside of the classroom. Take Me Outside is a non profit organization whose next project is to run across Canada, encouraging youth to get outside, be active and reconnect with nature.

The “next project” is well under way and Colin Harris is making amazing strides. Colin launched his run across Canada 251 days ago in Newfoundland and crossed into Alberta on September 17th. He is running to raise awareness and is making stops along the way to speak at schools and to community groups (over 75 already) about the benefits of getting outside. I have been told that he recently lost his support vehicle driver when they had to unexpectedly drop out. Colin was faced with making the decision to call it quits or keep on going. His strong belief in the cause wouldn’t let him quit. He’s on his own now and will be arriving in Calgary soon (likely Monday September 26th). It would be great if he could receive a warm reception and some words of encouragement from anyone in the area. Don’t live in Calgary? Jump on the website and send him a message and while you’re there, be sure to buy an “Ask your teacher to take you outside” t-shirt (also available at Mountain Equipment Co-op) and connect on Facebook.

setting a good example...outdoor play is fun!

If you are a parent that wants to help further the cause, here are the three biggest ways that you can make a difference to your own family, and your community.

  • Outdoor Play – Spend some time outdoors being active rather than cooped up inside. Anything that is going to get your family moving…ride a bike, take a walk, play at the park, go CAMPING!
  • Outdoor Learning – Time spent outdoors during school hours. Lesson plans that include time outside for projects and to reinforce concepts and curriculum engage the students and can improve participation and academic performance. Become an outdoor advocate by ensuring that your school as well as the school board know you believe that outdoor learning is an important component of your children’s education and encourage them to make including it a goal.
  • Active Transportation – An excellent way to guarantee that you and your children achieve at least the minimum amount of daily exercise required for optimum health is to walk or ride your bike to school or work.

playing at our local school - everyday outdoor play

Give your family the greatest gifts there are… health, confidence and time spent together. Get outside.

Does This Mean I’m a Grown-Up?

Fraser sprung it on me a few weeks ago. It wasn’t good news. I’ve always fancied myself as a “cool” person.  I won’t admit that to many people. I confess, I’m vain. Unfortunately my progeny have adopted my hipster tendencies, refusing to wear anything dorky in favor of skinny jeans secured with studded belts.


I was casually informed that my trendy tendencies would have to fall by the wayside come next summer. We are embarking on a three-week canoe trip with the kids complete with 49 portages (so far) and days packed with long stretches on the water. We’re gonna have to get some proper sun hats, I was told. Baseball hats aren’t gonna cut it for a three-week summer trip. What?! At best I’ll sport a beat up trucker hat or my overpriced, pre-abused straw cowboy hat (I won’t even tell you what I paid for it to come with an “authentic” frayed brim). How will I be able to look at myself in a mirror sporting one of those wide-brimmed, side-snapped numbers I swore I’d never wear? Simple, where we’re going there are no mirrors.

I suppose I have to admit that I’ve arrived at a place in my life where it’s time to make choices based on different criteria. I can’t  be the teenager standing at the bus stop with my coat open and no hat or mitts in sub-zero temperatures. I’m the mom and it’s my job to set a good example. Ugh. Did I just say that? We can’t risk getting burns or heat-stroke, so I’ve launched my search for the perfect hat. I’m starting now to give myself plenty of time to get used to the idea.

So which hat to choose? There is the safari style, the oiled canvas, the waterproof tripper, the one with the embroidered flowers, or maybe a built-in bug net?  So many choices.  Whichever one I finally decide on, I have every intention of making it look good. I’ll add it to my tendency toward socks with sandals and shorts over long underwear while on trip and I’m going to have to admit that I’m a full-on camper. I predict that camper cool is gonna be the next “it” thing though and I’m going to rock it. And if it doesn’t catch on? At least I can rest easy in the knowledge that my boys and I won’t spend our nights peeling burnt skin off of each others noses. And I take comfort in the fact that there wont be any evidence of my leap into the responsible. I’m the photographer 😉

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

I’m afraid that I’m going to incur the wrath of some with this next statement… I’m so glad that the summer has come to a close.

A gorgeous drive home from Algonquin

Summers can be hectic times.  Schedules are all thrown out of whack.  The kids are off from school and the house becomes a giant clubhouse filled with stinky boys and all of their toys.  And the heat! My god I hate the heat.  My time of year is Fall.  I’m in my element in the Fall.  It must come as no surprise then, that my favourite time of the year for tripping is upon us.  Cozy fleece jackets and bug free nights around a warm fire.  Hot chocolate and frosty mornings.  I’ve been checking out the Fall leaf report for Algonquin, and the leaves they are a changin’.  Break out the calendar, it’s time to start counting down the days to our annual September trip to Algonquin, ye ha!

The view from our canoe access site September 2010 – Algonquin

Next weekend we are heading up for a fun-filled get-away in the park.  We are going to canoe in to a site on Rock Lake for a night and then paddle over to the other side of the lake the next day to meet up with some of Fraser’s family including his folks.  It couldn’t be more convenient.  Rock Lake has both canoe access and car access so visitors of all skill levels and interest can enjoy it together.  It’s become a tradition.  It’s a nice laid back affair with some solitude to launch the trip and family and friends to wrap it up.  Fraser’s mom and dad always cook up a storm and I’m looking forward to bacon and eggs and fried mushrooms and steaks and homemade jam and pies and I’m bringing s’more fixings.  It’s going to be a blast.

Even Lambie needs a sweater in September – Algonquin

So what makes “shoulder” season tripping different from summer trips?  The weather of course.  The thermometer may say 10c but it feels much cooler when it was 30c just last week.  Bring warm clothes, a warm sleeping bag and if possible, plan for cooked meals and hot drinks.  Once a chill sets in, it’s hard to warm up your body and you want to be comfortable.  Also, only the bravest of souls will be

swimming for entertainment, so plan to spend your days participating in other activities.  How about hiking, leaf collecting, art projects, photo shoots, reading…eating?  Personally, I like to take up some yarn and knit up a small project.  I’ve already got a bunch of lovely knitted items named for the parks that they were made in.  I plan on making an Algonquin leaf scarf on this trip.  I swear I’m a lot cooler than I come off in this post!

The Saroyan Scarf – photo and pattern by Liz Abinante http://www.feministy.com

My point is this… Don’t put away your paddles just yet.  Canoeing season isn’t over until the ice is on the lake.  In fact, we have plans to squeeze in another trip to the park before it’s time to trade in our pfd’s for skis.  Stay tuned.

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