Tag Archives: Adventure

Learning is Everywhere

lee & hunter hugging a tree

The below article was published in What’s Up Yukon: http://whatsupyukon.com/family-learning/education/learning-is-everywhere/#sthash.vDOclfV8.dpuf

‘Road-schooling’ is the concept of using travel, either by itself or in concert with a curriculum, to educate a child. It brings learning to life and is grounded in the belief that learning is all around us, waiting to be explored and embraced.

We began our road-schooling journey 18 months ago when we decided to take eight months to travel and avoid winter. We had been on a fairly traditional educational path — our son attended daycare at Yukon College, entered the French immersion program at Whitehorse Elementary School in Kindergarten, and transitioned to Yukon Montessori School for Grade 4.

Knowing that I wanted a different home-school experience, not full of textbooks and workbooks (I envisioned the hell of living in small quarters and having a running battle about doing school work), I sought assistance from Dominic Bradford of Yukon Montessori School to help me design a learning plan that both leveraged our planned travels and met the B.C. curriculum requirements.

Bradford’s assistance set us on the path as road-schoolers, and boosted my confidence in our plan.

The first few months were stressful; I was constantly questioning myself and wondering if we were spending enough time on what I had traditionally thought of as school. By month three I wrapped my head around the concept of measuring how we were doing at “learning” versus the amount of time spent at the kitchen table doing math or spelling.

Our first trip was eight months on the road around North America, from September 2013 to May 2014. We successfully avoided winter, and we spent as much time as possible adventuring. We covered over 36,000 km and played in oceans, forests, deserts, and everything in between.

Using a combination of books, videos, and National Park Junior Ranger programs we dove deeply into American history (Lewis & Clark, War of Independence, Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil Rights Movement), and culture (regional diversity, live music, and imagery, to name a few example). And gained a real-time sense of geography, and how it influences people and places.

The knowledge stuck, since our method of learning brought information to life. The things we learned were real, and relevant; we had a rich learning experience.

It has changed us as parents — we intentionally take advantage of the learning opportunities that are presented to all of us in our daily lives. If our son asks a question and we don’t know the answer, we pause and Google it, and then leverage the curious moment to dig a little deeper into the topic.

When out for a walk, we make sure we talk about the flora and fauna as well as other things we notice, such as a stream that is overflowing or a new type of plant. We have learned our biggest roles are to be learn-facilitators, and curiosity-enablers. This is something that can be integrated into every family, even if it isn’t off adventuring.

– See more at: http://whatsupyukon.com/family-learning/education/learning-is-everywhere/#sthash.vDOclfV8.dpuf

Adventures in Tucson, Arizona

hunter bmx park 3We stayed in Tucson for 10 days and it was full of fun and adventure. Yet another stop where we experienced so much more than what you can find on paper…

The first part of our adventure was choosing to stay at the Voyager RV Park. It is a massive (4000 people) adult only community that is geared towards active retirees. We were wooed by the amazing number of facilities and activities and they swore that Hunter was welcomed. Having stayed with Tim’s parents in Florida at an “RV Park”, we were in for quite the surprise here – everyone was incredibly friendly and very very active, physically and socially. I did water aerobics in the pool in the morning (a good level for my side that is still in rehab), the boys spent some time with the wood carving club, Hunter and I played water volleyball most afternoons and we played tennis in the afternoon or evening each night.

We explored the local National Park – Saguaro National Park and learned a great deal about desert plants and animals.

We stopped on the way back home at Ben’s Bikes, learned about the local trails and got invited to check out the BMX track that night – another first for Hunter and so much fun!

We explored the Pima Air and Space Museum and the boneyard – airplanes as far as the eye can see…

All around – a great stop. Tucson seems like a little big city – lots of amenities but still easy to get around in and a very human feel to everything. It also helps that the weather was fabulous!!! Sunny and warm each day.

Wildplay Nanaimo – great family stop

family wildplay photo

Having spent the last 6 months working with the Wildplay team as part of my role on the board at Mount Sima (Whitehorse), I was anxious to check out another of the Wildplay facilities to see how they operated and what we could learn to bring back to the Yukon.

Wow… the Nanaimo Wildplay location is amazing. Tucked away off the main highway it is a lush, forested play park that is intimate yet like an adventure waiting to happen. The sun was beaming down when we got there at 10:30 and it had the makings for a great day.

Thanks to the generosity of the Wildplay corporate team, we were able to partake in all of the park’s offerings and are happy to fully recommend every single one… Primal Swing, Bungie Jump, Dragonfly Zipline and Monkido Aerial Adventure.

Hunter was fairly disappointed  that he wasn’t old enough for the Primal Swing and Bungie Jump but the staff did an amazing job to engage him all the same. After signing all our paperwork at the front desk (fairly simple process), we headed up to the “Bridge” where the Primal Swing and Bungie Jump are based. Here he is getting the Bungie experience at the top of the bridge 🙂

hunter testing bungie

I’m not a big fan of free fall – don’t really like roller coasters etc., so Bungie Jumping was left solely to Tim but I did agree to do the Primal Swing with him in tandem. It turns out that I MISTAKENLY thought it was just a big swing off the bridge… should have watched the video’s a little closer! Remember my opening statement???

tim lee primal swing

After getting into our harnesses, we are seated in 2 plastic seats at the edge of the bridge. I first start to sense a bit of trepidation when our harnesses are attached to what looks like a big slingshot and the guide is working hard to offset the pressure that is being pulled on us. The butterflies in my stomach started to really dance when the guide started to let go of the harnesses and we could feel the pressure. Then it was 1-2-3 “GO” and OMG!!! I was free falling and screaming my head off. The only thing that made it manageable was having Tim sitting right next to me – and he was grinning from ear to ear and laughing his head off so it couldn’t be that bad right? We fell down towards the water and then swung in a big arc back up into the air opposite of the bridge. At that point my immediate thought was “what goes up must come down” – OMG!!! and back came the free fall again… thankfully the swing arc decreased after that and it was a fun swing with no free fall components. Hunter had his way with the guides up top on the bridge and we got lightly dunked but not soaked so all was good.

After getting picked up by the boat on the river, we headed back up the stairs for Tim to do his bungie jump. As we were in the swing, he said “I’m not sure I’m up to the Bungie…”. I was very supportive of the fact that he didn’t have to do it, but that I was NOT doing the swing again with him. I actually renamed it the Primal SCREAM for anyone I spoke with that entire day. With Hunter pushing him on, Tim boldly stepped in to the Bungie platform and actually dove headfirst off the bridge towards the river. With a scream and then a massive laugh, he bounced up and down and had a great time.

tim bungie

After a short wait we were off to the Dragonfly Zipline. It is a 2 line zip line that runs over and back across the River. It is a great introduction to ziplines for those that haven’t done it before or might be feeling a bit of trepidation. We had experienced the Zoom Ziplines at the Wildplay Yukon facility last year, which are over 1km in length, so were excited to have some more fun. As Hunter is under 100 lbs he had to go tandem with one of the guides. Brian the guide did an amazing job of being his buddy. They would take a running start off the platforms to see how fast they could get going… it sure makes it seem cooler to have a buddy than to go alone! By the time we were done our zipping it was perfect timing for a lunch break. Lucky for us our camper was just out in the parking lot so we headed out for a lunch break and some hanging out.

hunter tim buddy course

 

We spent the afternoon in the Monkido Aerial Adventure course. Hunter is JUST (by the tips of his toes) tall enough to do the buddy course so he and Tim were buddies. What this means is that the kids get to do the kids course once and then get to do 2-3 legs of the full course but not the final “black” leg, which is the hardest. Their “buddy” is on the course with them to ensure that they are being safe and have help when required.

Hunter is an old hand at Monkido courses, having spent a bunch of time on the Yukon one. He zipped right through the kids course and was ready to move right into the full course. Being “just tall enough” does create some challenges on the course as it means that the tether between your harness and the safety line can be very snug at times. We came up with some creative approaches to work through this and he had a fun time. The course itself is fabulous – it winds through the trees and many times you can’t see what the next obstacle is due to the lushness of the forest. The obstacles  push some peoples comfort zones and yet are 100% safe and secure. I view them as a big kids jungle gym and would be happy to do this every day!

wildplay nanaimo

 

We definitely recommend this (and any of the Wildplay facilities) to families that are looking for some outdoor, active fun together!