3 Reasons an Outdoor Adventure is Great for Kids!

WILD WEDNESDAY:  This week, Fain Atkins, our Group Program Coordinator writes about something close to the heart of our program: Kids Outdoors.  Enjoy!

Kids need opportunities to explore experiment, expand, influence, change, discover, practice, push their limits, express their feelings and just be themselves. Here is a list of why an outdoor adventure may just be the best thing to achieve all of that and more!

 

3 Reasons an Outdoor Adventure is Pretty Great for Kids

 

1. Develops physical health

This first one is probably the most obvious but that doesn't make it any less important. Being physically active for a technologically hounded generation with vast amounts of screen time is so important. Kids must develop great motor and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. Backpacking is a great way to do this. In addition to physical activity, just the mere fact of being outside in sunlight and getting dirty actually aids in good physical health. For example, dirt is actually beneficial to kids. Don't believe me? Well, I just read a pretty convincing article on dirt that told me so.

2.     Grows appreciation of the Outdoors

In this day and age, we are more aware than ever that taking care of the planet we live on is vitally important. Being a consumer just isn't going to cut it if we want the other non-human life we interact with on a daily basis to thrive in harmony for the future to come. Want your kids to get a grasp on this? Nothing is better than a first hand experience than living for a time outside, if even for just a day or two. At WAEL, we teach Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics which is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.

3.Improves Brainpower

Research shows that kids who engage in outdoor activities actually have longer attention spans, more frustration tolerance, and do better in school. Kids even do better on tests if allowed to play first. It's not just that it gets their wiggles out. It's all that oxygen to the brain. Not only that but it helps kids with specialized needs, from problems with focus to behavioral issues. Outdoor play is often used in therapy with much success. This article will back me up.

 

Although coming to WAEL is an awesome experience, outdoor adventures do not have to be a big production. If you're lucky enough to have your own yard, you have unlimited options, from kicking a ball around to camping out in a tent. Every city has public parks, and every family can find something to do outside that feels fun. If you still have doubts about why an outdoor adventure may not be good for the kids in your life (or “you” if you're blessed to still be a kid) then you should probably re-read this article or just research it for yourself by heading outside!


Things I Can't Live Without

WILD WEDNESDAY: The first principle of LNT is "Plan Ahead and Prepare."  This Wednesday's blog comes from Former Base Camp Director, Dan Lucas, about how he does just that!  A lot of us in the outdoor industry love to talk gear-and hey! when it's stuff you use everyday on adventures, it's great to know what brands and models are best for you!  Check it out.

We all have them, things.....and while I try not to be obsessed with material possessions there are just a few things that I NEED. I have picked some of my personal favorite things to share with you. I carry or use them almost every day. What are your favorite things? Did I list any of them? Am I completely off base? Let me know in comments below or on the WAEL Facebook post. 

  1. “In Ear headphones” I use Dre Beats. You don’t need an expensive or flashy pair. I have had excellent luck with Skull Candy “Inked” in ear phones as well. for 10-30 dollars on average you can use these little guys to escape in conjunction with your cellular device, into some music or your favorite book. I also like the nifty hands free/volume adjustment on my Beats. Makes driving and chatting safer and easier.
  2. “iPhone 5S “ This is what I plug my head phones into. Electronics are a must in today's society. We are all constantly plugged in. weather its social media, taking a photo of the adventure you are on , or calling in evac after a close encounter with a bear . A cell is a must carry. I use mine most often to take snap shots on all my adventures. Some may not love the idea of electronics on the trail. But for me. The ability to take a photo to reflect on, and relax to some tunes after a long day is key.
  3. “Thermos brand coffee mug: leak proof travel mug”  I don’t feel like I need to say much more than coffee. But if you are like me you are hard on stuff. I break stuff, and I look for products that can stand up to the punishment I dish out. My thermos brand coffee mug has one hand operation. A sweet grab handle and it keeps stuff hot/cold for up to 8 hours.
  4. “Watch” I know what you are thinking. My phone can do that. Yeah, but I don’t like to have my phone out during rain storms. And I don’t like to pull it out all the time just to check what the time it. My G Shock is built tough, looks good and always tells me the right time. Working with groups, an item like this is a must.
  5. “Packable Layers” whenever I am hiking/ biking/ or doing any sort of guided trip I bring everything. Including layers for warmth. I start with a good base layer like a merino wool. It will keep you warm even in wet conditions.  A packable layer like a synthetic down is what you need for cold conditions or after a ride when you get back to base camp.  And a packable shell layer for windy conditions or the in-between times when you are too warm for the down. Many brands sell great products, but for my money I have been very pleased with Eddie Bauer First Ascent down and shells. Check them out.
  6. “My Hat” I am what you call Follicly challenged. I started going bald in highschool, like many other men with pattern baldness I chose to use a hat to not only hide but also protect my skull. Many years later I have embraced the bald life. I shave my head on the Reg and I keep it clean. But I have never stopped using a hat. I have been through many different hats and for my money the “Outdoor Research Radar Pocket cap”  does it all. It is light, packable and foldable. A split in brim is the key to foldability. The synthetic material has sun protection, and its light and cool. Especially in hot weather. This is the go to hat almost all year round. And the orange color goes with everything, because it goes with nothing at all!

There you have it!  The necessities, straight to you from Dan the Man.  What are YOUR necessities?

Where is he now?  Dan has recently graduated from the WA life and now works for the new guiding and outfitting company in Roanoke, Roanoke Mountain Adventures.  We miss him, we're proud of him, and we can't wait to see what RMA does for adventuring in Roanoke!

Where is he now?  Dan has recently graduated from the WA life and now works for the new guiding and outfitting company in Roanoke, Roanoke Mountain Adventures.  We miss him, we're proud of him, and we can't wait to see what RMA does for adventuring in Roanoke!

Where is he now?  Dan has recently graduated from the WA life and now works for the new guiding and outfitting company in Roanoke, Roanoke Mountain Adventures.  We miss him, we're proud of him, and we can't wait to see what RMA does for adventuring in Roanoke!

Cultural Connections: Bluegrass Musicians and French Canadians Converge at Eagle Landing

If you were to come to the Main Lodge at Eagle Landing on a Friday night this spring, you might experience a bit of culture-shock.  It would have little to do with the rustic 19th century farmhouse clashing with modern amenities—ya know, the basic ones like electricity, indoor plumbing and the sort—nor would you be shocked by the parking lot full of cars in a place where bike and foot traffic are the preferred methods of transportation.  What would really rattle your senses are the people you'd meet mixed with the music you'd hear in the setting it was all taking place:  a large group of French-speaking Quebecois listening to a bluegrass band against the backdrop of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.

            Blue Connection, a Catawba-based bluegrass band is set to play a series of shows this spring at WAEL, kicking off last Friday along with a meal of Southern favorites like pork barbeque and slaw.  Their main audience is Centrifuge, a group of hardcore road cyclists from Quebec, who have been coming to Wilderness Adventure for nearly a decade due to its proximity to great mountain roads such as the Blue Ridge Parkway.  While most visitors to our facility would find it strange that English is presently a minority language, our Canadian guests must find it equally unusual to hear twangy music and see flat-foot dancing.  However, if one thing is certain in life, it's that great food and great music can make cultural barriers crumble.  Everyone speaks the language of having a good time.

 

Check out some photos from last week's event as well as the website for Blue Connection.