Archive for the ‘Mentoring’ Category

My San Diego niece has a first grade teacher who believes in adventure. After reading her class the picture book Flat Stanley, she had her students color miniature versions of themselves and send them in an envelope to friends or family living elsewhere.

We received the flat version of my niece and wandered around town taking photos of her with boats in the harbor, tulips towering over her, and meeting friends in front of the kids’ middle school. Next my daughter wrote a letter explaining her flat cousin’s adventures, and we that flat girl back with tourist brochures of our area.

I love thinking about those sunny first graders looking at photos of our area and noticing how the plants are different and the weather is different and the buildings are different. Maybe if they adventure in envelopes now, those kids will be interested in traveling by plane, bicycle, or foot in real life later. I hope so.

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Did I mention my kids were born two years and ten days apart? That means two birthday celebrations in a very short period at the end of April. And so yes, outdoor adventures have taken a backseat to birthday adventures.

We’ve had a movie marathon overnight (the 13-year-old) and a Redwall Quest involving our very own basement turned into catacombs (many, many cardboard refrigerator boxes). If we can be the house of fun for birthday adventures, I’m hoping we can also attract our kids’ friends and their families to think it would be a world of fun to adventure with us this summer.

We’re thinking a 2-night 3 day bicycling trip and a similar length backpacking trip for folks who have never experienced an outdoor overnight. Usually, I get excited about new places and longer trips, but now I’m also excited about adventuring with people who are new to it all. Have interest and willing to try it? Let us know.

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The national economic situation is scary. I know people who have lost their jobs, and others who are worried. I understand cutting back on vacation travel and focusing those funds on necessities, but I think getting outside is still essential. Families need positive time together, fitness, connections to nature, and the personal qualities family adventuring helps grow, like creativity, ingenuity, and self-reliance. So make it doable financially by going do-it-yourself.

We bicycle tour inexpensively by tent camping and making cookstove meals. We backpack and kayak close to home, and rather than buy expensive freeze dried food, we pack our own, with Simple Foods for the Pack and Lip Smackin’ Backpackin’: Lightweight Trail Tested Recipes for Backcountry Trips¬†as useful guides. We also borrow and share gear. Last summer our kayak took another family on a five-day trip, and this fall other friends tried out our tandem bicycles. Plus the tandems and the kayak were originally bought used.

Let’s help each other and keep families connected to outdoor adventure. How will you still get outside together? And what gear can you borrow or lend?

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imagesI met a future bicycle touring adventurer today. She’s graduating from high school this June, and inspired by my friend Jennifer Bradbury’s young adult novel Shift, is planning a three-week bicycle tour. We had only met thus far in the virtual world of e-mail, so it was great to see her for real in a coffee shop. We dissected Bicycling The Pacific Coast: A Complete Guide Canada to Mexico, and spent time detailing gear, thinking about routes, talking fitness goals, and getting her connected to resources.

And there really are a bunch of great resources out there for the first-time overnighting self-contained bicyclist. The Adventure Cycling Association has a number of worthwhile on-line articles, plus great photos and maps, and the Crazy Guy on a Bike website inspires with information and trip blogs. In our community, there are workshops to help bicyclists learn gear and maintenance put on by local shops as well as the city’s program encouraging folks to bicycle, Everybody Bike.

Now that I’m an official mentor for my teenage mentee’s project (yes, complete with signed paperwork for her Senior Project filed at her high school), I am reminded of the value of each one teach one. Sure she can read up on bicycle touring, but it helps to know someone who’s ahead of you on the road, so you can ask questions and think out loud with someone. Or see their gear. Our next meeting will even include a tour of my garage for that purpose.

I love that she’s dreaming of adventuring. And that she’s inspired to grow from someone who has bicycled 14 miles in one day, to someone who will successfully ride hundreds of miles down the coast, camping along the way. And sometime later, her enthusiasm and can do attitude will probably inspire someone else to give an extended bicycle trip a try. I love that too.

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Yesterday my mother-in-law earned her first place age-group gold medal nordic ski skating the Garland Glide 10K. Today she’s classic cross-country skiing with her granddaughter. It is a beautiful Michigan winter day, somehow sunny and yet snowing so lightly that the air looks like it is glittering. While I am chastened that my mother-in-law is way faster than me at this sport, I am psyched that she is such a great role model for my daughter.p11907481

Having a Michigan Cup champion ski racing grandma who has competed in the Masters World Cup in cross-country skiing in Moscow, Italy, Finland, and Idaho is a powerful reminder that outdoor adventuring after age 70 is possible. I admire the medals, but even more the excitement in her voice when she talks about a great ski day and the camaraderie among folks who love the sport. Grandpa too is a fit nordic skier, and glad to see his granddaughter out enjoying winter on skis.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t have as much opportunity to cross-country ski as grandma and grandpa, but we know they are classic and skate ski racing every weekend this winter, and we think of them with love and admiration. They are probably role models in adventure not just for us, but for the young folks at those races too.

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