HO HO HO, But Where's the Snow?

I'd be lying if I said I was one of those people that when November 1st hits, all they want is for it to snow. They live for the Winter season and eagerly count down the days to blissful powder playgrounds...  And I'd be lying if I said I agreed with Janna on this one. I'd love it if we had snow on November 1st. Heck let’s just skip Fall.

I grew up with seasons that consisted of 1) Summer... your summer is like an Ontario winter tho ;),... 2) a few days where trees turn orange and it’s colder than Summer, 3) early Winter, mid Winter, late Winter, and 4) a few days where the snow starts to melt and the days get longer. 

So I grew up with snow…..What a coincidence I grew up with snow too! … And don't get me wrong, I do love how beautiful it makes everything and ALL of the super fun outdoor activities that require snow and cold weather (ie: skiing, tobogganing, skating, snowshoeing, snowboarding, skidooing, ice fishing, dog sledding, building snow caves, etc) but it's quite the love hate relationship that I have with it. 

Every Fall, after enjoying a beautiful hot Summer where the days are long and the sun is warm, I find myself secretly whispering to Mother Nature “please just hold off that snow for one more week.” ...Soo you're the reason we don't have snow yet eh? Asking Mother Nature to delay its arrival

This past Fall I did exactly that. But to my surprise, October turned into November, and November to December, and there still wasn't ANY snow. It had “snowed” on a couple days but to me those days are just a dream dangler - snow on the ground for a few hours before melting away the dreams of winter fun into mud and water. 

I guess the sayings “you’ll always miss the things you don't have”/”don't know what you got ‘til it's gone”/”you're gonna miss me when I'm gone” describe my love hate relationship with snow. I don't want it until we don't have it, but then I wish it was there. Ironic right? ...Very ironic! I miss the snow too. It's been too long. 

I really had this emphasized to me when trying to plan our GO Adventure Co. Christmas Camps this year. In my mind, when we originally planned to offer Christmas Camp I had visions of days filled with tobogganing on our awesome hill, skating on our beloved pond, and building the coolest snow forts and snowmen after a snowshoe to our back forest….We both envisioned this, I think anyone who runs a Christmas camp expects these activities to be part of their days. 

However, we couldn't do any of those things! Slash we won't be able to do any of those things again for our next Christmas Camp session starting Monday Dec 28. Sidenote: registration available at www.goadventure.co (hehe I have no shame in my shameless plug) 
...And don't worry we still have tons of other epic adventures planned that don't involve snow. 

We still had a lot of fun building forts, doing crafts, playing games and being outside, but it's just not the same. We have become so accustomed to associating the Winter months around Christmas to snow and white winter wonderlands that it really feels like something is missing when that's not the case. 

So I guess my big take away lesson from all of this is that change is a good thing. And so is snow. If we had the same season all year round, we wouldn't get the same diversity in experiences and activities we do when living in a place where our seasons are so drastic. Snow is beautiful and fun and necessary to make Winter more than just months on a calendar….We live in the most wonderful country in the world! But Yes that's a biased opinion since we're Canadians. 

So I'm definitely whispering something different to Mother Nature now
“Please let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...so we can GO GO GO...outside and play!” … I'm whispering too. LET IS SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW. 

Disclaimer: Janna wrote this post while in Hawaii with her family, so even tho I know she feels this way I won't feel too bad for her until she's back :p

No Such Thing as Bad Weather....

Growing up in the Yukon I got to spend a LOT of time outside while it was cold. There is no such thing as a snow day in Whitehorse...Only because it gets sooo cold it can’t snow. here we get snow days because it’s unsafe for vehicles to drive. but that’s no excuse to not play outside... and so no matter what the weather was, we always had to be prepared to spend time outside.

A mantra that my dad passed on to me when I was young, and something that I want to share with everyone, especially those interested in our programs is that

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!” ...YESS! It’s a great mantra.

And I will speak from personal experience and say that it is 100% true... I agree, if you’re prepared anything is possible. From giving a presentation, to making dinner to playing outside. If you’re prepared it will make things a lot more fun.

I definitely had some years where I was “too cool” to dress warm. I wouldn’t wear a toque because it would mess up my hair, I wouldn’t wear boots because all of my friends were wearing running shoes, and I never had the common sense to even think about wearing base layers under my clothing….And to think a kid from the Yukon had to be reminded by a kid from Ontario that it’s ok to dress warm. silly Janna. I’m glad you grew out of that stage….  Do you think I enjoyed being outside in the cold dressed like that? No way! I hated it. So I wouldn’t spend much time outside.

I fear that something this simple, how to dress properly, is a major barrier that prevents people from going outside and enjoying it.  I have seen it so many times before, running outdoor camps and teaching outdoor education in schools, that people will have the opportunity to participate in an amazing outdoor experience, but they hate every second of it because all they can think about is how cold they are... or wet, or hot.

So my mission today is to share a few of our tried, tested and true tips for dressing properly to be outside.  I (Janna) am writing this first (as I always do with our blog), and so I will be interested to see what Alycia adds, or doesn’t need to add, to the list that I create...Well I hope you didn’t miss anything.. We are outdoor experts after all.

When you are preparing to go outside for an activity, whether it be only for a couple hours or all day long, it is important to remember the following:

  • Layers! Layers, layers, layers! ….And layers and layers !!... Start from your skin and work your way out.  Think about what will happen if you get hot while doing activity.  You want to have a layer to take off without it taking off all of your warm clothing.  For example if you go outside with just a winter jacket and a t-shirt on, then if you are too hot in your jacket, you’re just left with a t-shirt.

  • The most important part about the layer closest to your skin (also referred to as your base layer) is its ability to wick moisture. There are a lot of phenomenal synthetic products that can do this, such as polypropylene. Wool is also really great. Cotton is BAD! No cotton!... Well cotton isn't bad but it's bad when it comes to the outdoors. It's super comfy when you're sitting at home watching movies on a lazy Sunday….Especially when it is in direct contact with your skin. So do not wear cotton t-shirts, sweat pants, or cotton socks as your first layer.

  • The majority of the heat from your body is regulated from your head! So use your head (literally and figuratively) to adjust your temperature levels. Too cold? Put on a toque, buff or headband. Too hot? Take off some of your other layers but keep your head covered.

  • Your body is hardwired to protect what is most important, and that is your core. Logically that makes sense. Your body would way rather protect your lungs, heart, and other internal organs than it would your measly fingers or toes. Therefore, when you are not producing enough heat your body directs blood (and thus heat) away from your extremities and towards your core. What’s the first thing that usually gets cold outside? Fingers and toes. How do we fix that? Make sure your core is warm... Oh and wearing mitts and boots are a good idea too... You can do this by wearing a base layer, having one or two nice mid layers, and then making sure your outer layer has some protection against wind and water. Don’t forget about your head either. If you focus on your core, the extremities will also stay warm.

  • Footwear is very important. I think an essential component of good footwear is keeping your feet dry. Insulation is also important and a good rubber sole. If you are standing on snow, ice or cold ground all day, you don’t want your feet getting cold from the bottom up... But if you don't have great footwear I hear garbage bags are really great replacements :) seriously.

We definitely have more tips and advice, especially activity specific advice (skiing vs skating vs snowshoeing vs tobogganing) but by following the suggestions above you will have a good start on making your experiences outdoors way more enjoyable.

Our hope is that you can then spend your time enjoying the activity you are doing, and loving every second of it, as opposed to wishing it was over so you could go warm up…. At the very least you'll hate what you're doing but you'll be warm :)

So now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of what to wear, you should probably come test the advice for yourself ...or test us and see how smart we are about dressing for the outdoors... and do some of those fun activities we are speaking of with us here at GO Adventure Co.

We love playing outside, regardless of the weather, because “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!”  ….And bad attitude ;)


Ps. Janna nailed that one! No added info from this kid! High five Words.

 

Doctor's Orders...

 

I was reading some medical and environmental Journal articles the other day…

Now hold on a second, please don’t start judging me on my nerdiness, it’s just that in my spare time I like to learn, and if 6 years of University taught me anything it’s that you should be trying to learn from a reliable source. Hence the Journal articles... And I encourage the reading, “hey Janna I found an article that sounds good, read it and let me know what it says” as I’ve said before, Janna’s my living version of readers digest.

Carrying on. I was reading an article from the Environmental Science and Technology Journal regarding Nature and its many benefits, and it got me thinking. So here are my thoughts.

The sharing of information and knowledge with other people works in an intriguing but potentially vicious cycle.

Stay with me for a second...Janna's famous “side note” here it comes…

Growing up, I loved being outside. The fresh, distinct smell of a fall day; the sparkle on everything outside on a crisp, cold, but sunny and clear winter day; the springy texture of moss beneath your feet on a hike in the forest; the sound of a creek running over rocks amidst total and complete silence; when I experience all of these things now as an “adult” I enjoy them just as much as I did when I was a kid. They improve my mood. They make me feel good about life and the things going on. They calm me down. They connect me back to the earth and remind me that I am apart of something so much bigger than myself...  I second that, all of it. Mother Nature is a beauty. Nature is our natural home so take time to explore it.

So from those personal experiences and many others I have always known that being outside rocks, it’s good for my physical, mental and spiritual well-being and I am healthier when it is apart of my regular routine than when it is not. These personal experiences lead me to became a Physical Education teacher, and are very much a reason why I decided to be a Co-Go-er with GO Adventure Co... The first hand experiences i’ve had with these are all the reasons why i took recreation at school and eventually started GO. we can thank our passion for the outdoors for connecting us and developing our friendship.

Me knowing these things is great for me. It benefits me and my life. It keeps me healthy. However, now that part of my “job” is to promote getting outside, moving and playing, it’s not enough for just ME to know these things...or me... I want everyone else to know them too. I want everyone else to benefit from them. I want everyone else to be healthy...it makes us sound greedy because theres a lot of “i wants”, but they are the “i wants” that we are ok with because we truly want people to benefit from nature

But, what I am finding is it’s not enough to just tell people about my own experiences. It’s definitely not convincing enough for them to sign up for an outdoor program just by hearing me tell a nice story about how much I love being outside.

People want proof. People want evidence. People want to know the facts.

So I went out to find some….which brings us back to the Journal articles. Still following me?..yes janna i’m still following you

“Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood; the presence of water generated greater effects. Both men and women had similar improvements in self-esteem after green exercise, though men showed a difference for mood. Age groups: for self-esteem, the greatest change was in the youngest, with diminishing effects with age; for mood, the least change was in the young and old. The mentally ill had one of the greatest self-esteem improvements. This study confirms that the environment provides an important health service”.

That’s a paragraph from the article I mentioned above. Very scientifically written information, but put into layman's terms..or janna’s readers digest version... it is basically saying: 1) being outside improved mood and self-esteem 2) the greatest change in mood happened in younger participants 3) there are very positive effects for mental illness 4) the environment is an important health service

I could have told you that ;) ..and me too. and the best part is you dont need a prescription

But this comes from data collected from a scientific, unbiased, multi-study analysis, so therefore it should carry a lot of weight with other people, right? ...uh, totally, hey janna i really like where this is going

If that’s the case then the following facts, taken from the same article, should also resonate with people:

  • Many urgent health challenges are connected to sedentary and indoor lifestyles

  • Physical inactivity results in 1.9 million deaths worldwide annually (1 in 25 deaths)

  • Preindustrial humans expended 1000 calories on activity per day but for modern humans the average is 300 calories

  • Inactivity increases the likelihood of obesity and reduces life expectancy

  • Mental health disorders are known to affect 16% of the general population; evidence shows that exposure to natural places can lead to positive mental health outcomes

From my experience though, people will read those facts, nod their head in agreement, and then do nothing about it.

So how do we get people to change their habits, lifestyles, ideals, etc? I have found that the only way it works, and really sticks, is when they experience it firsthand for themselves.

When someone goes outside, does an activity, experiences the increase in mood and self-esteem, and knows that they did something positive that day for their current and future health, they are more inclined to do it again. And hopefully again. And again. Until it is a lifelong passion.

Bringing it back to my vicious cycle of communication.  I have concluded through my experiences that:

  1. If I know something because I have experienced it first hand, people are hesitant to believe it because there is no evidence or “facts” to support my claims

  2. When people read facts and evidence regarding health, lifestyle, habits, etc, they tend to agree completely with it but do nothing about it

  3. People usually tend to make those changes only after experiencing the benefits firsthand

Thus creating the vicious cycle. Because now the person in my example will have experienced the benefits of being outside first hand, be really fired up about what it can do for you, go tell and share their experiences with other people, but then those people will want evidence to support it. See what I mean?.... Maybe this blog post will be a good addition to some evidence and people's experiences ?!

However! Instead of looking at this as a vicious cycle, it could also be considered a growing network. If I get you onboard with my passion for the benefits of being outside, eventually you will want to share that with other people too. And so on and so forth. ...Yes, a network, or community of people who love being outside…

And that, my friends, is what we are all about at GO Adventure Co. Creating that network of GO-ers pumped about playing outside, all the while reaping the health benefits along the way. ..Hey that's what I just said or you said then I said before I read what you said…

So in conclusion, you should probably join our community too; but don’t take my word for it, or the doctor’s orders - just come try it for yourself!

..wow. reading this makes me realize how much Janna and I see eye to eye when it come to our business. im not one for writing but she definitely summed up my thoughts perfectly. and this is why i know we’re the right fit for GO Adventure. so yes if you wanna feel awesome and rejuvenated come join us at GO..

 

Why We Do What We Do...

Before I get into it, I just wanted to clarify how our blog format works.

It’s the “GO Co’s Blog - Janna’s Thoughts and Alycia’s Rambles”.

So broken down that is:

GO = our company

Co= the co-workers of GO (Alycia and I)

Blog = written by aforementioned co-workers

Janna’s Thoughts = I write the blog first without Alycia. I get to pick the topic and write it however I’d like

Alycia’s Rambles = Once I am finished, Alycia reads the blog and adds in her whimsical, witty, or silly rambles, just so we both get a chance to contribute…I kind of feel like a teacher grading a paper when we write a blog post. Janna writes it then I get to give my input.. Thats what teachers do right?  P.S. The rambles by me (Alycia) are in italics.. just incase you didn’t catch that one ;).

We had our very first night of GO Kids this past Tuesday. GO Kids is a group that gets together for an hour and a half each week to play outside, go on adventures, try new things and be active. (Shameless plug, we also offer GO Youth and GO Ladies).

During GO Kids - as I watched them running through the field in the pouring rain,  loving every second of getting muddy, excitedly making their way to a row of apple trees .... and being total troopers while they slid all over and tripped on their garbage bag rain jackets because like Janna said it was POURING RAIN... - I had a moment. It was one of those moments where I stopped what I was doing for a second ...(she really did stop for more than a second, I even looked back to ask what she was doing) and made a conscious effort to take in what I was seeing.

I saw kids outside, running, and laughing ... in the rain no less.

I saw a little girl jumping from dirt pile to dirt pile, commenting how fun and squishy mud is... and running with her hand in the air because her garbage bag rain jacket was too long.

I saw a boy seamlessly maneuvering over uneven surfaces, not even realizing he was running because he was chasing after Jake, our camp dog... and also our new puppy who is still “nameless”

I saw beautiful fall colours and trees full of apples... and lots and lots of rain drops.

Know what I didn’t see?

I didn’t see kids sitting.

I didn’t see kids staring at a screen.

I didn’t see zombie eyes, quiet mouths, or hunched backs.

I didn’t see kids needing to be entertained by anything other than the task of going to pick apples.

I have been reading a lot of articles and documents lately that reiterate to me why we do what we do here at GO Adventure Co... and she’s been sharing all the facts with me- she’s a real life Reader's Digest.

Two examples include ParticipACTION’s “Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play” and an article in Financial Post about how teens are spending less than half of the time their parents did on outdoor activities.

Both of the articles had facts and statement that I couldn’t help but shake my head in agreement with. I want to share a few of those points, followed by a reason why we do what we do at GO.

  • “Interest in indoor activities such as video games and social media are the leading barrier to getting kids and teens outside”

- we are never going to be able to eliminate these barriers, but we like to show our GO-ers that there are activities, social connections and experiences you can have without any devices necessary.... Really we’re trying to make our GO-ers well rounded people. Don’t get me wrong I love technology too but I also LOVE what being active and outdoors does for me

  • “Lack of opportunity and infrastructure is also a barrier, including access to activities and high cost of organized sports”

- GO offers opportunity, infrastructure, and reasonable pricing. We also understand that there are people who like to be active without being involved in organized sport..... That’s what we do! We take you back to the basics, grab a ball, grab some cones and just play for the fun of it.

  • “Regular physical activity, including time spent being active outdoors, can help kids/teens reduce the risk of chronic disease, make friends, improve self-esteem, confidence and mental health, and even improve concentration and grades”

- that one pretty much speaks for itself, and at GO we have first hand experiences to back all of the above statements.

  • “People who are more connected to nature tend to be happier. Positive experiences at a young age can foster nature connectedness and influence behaviours like time spent outdoors”

- we agree that people who spend time outside are happier! And we also know that positive experiences at any age can foster connectedness and influence behaviours. That’s why we GO anytime, anywhere with anyone! ...I mean just look at us, we’re happy people and we spend time outside “connecting with nature” like playing in the mud or relaxing by the pond.

I could seriously go on and on about this kind of stuff, and I haven’t even touched all of the literature on Physical Literacy yet. Being physically literate, for those who don’t know, means to be able to “move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments”... which is another thing we do at GO, just by being outside and playing!

I am getting too riled up about this topic, or intense as my siblings would say, so I will stop because I know not everyone is as passionate about it as I am... I agree, stop now! I really did feel like a teacher grading a paper but I also really appreciated this blog topic because it helps you all understand why Janna and I are so passionate about GO and working hard to make it a community of people.

But if you are! GO read those articles I have linked above. They definitely make some great points...  and even if you’re not you should still read them, your kids, your family and yourself will thank you later. they’re really eye opening.
 

There are a lot of reasons why we do what we do at GO. It is our passion to get people outside, moving and playing. If any of that strikes a chord with you, we would love for you to be apart of our GO-er community too!