Monday, March 3, 2014

9 ways to connect with nature on the West Coast of Canada

When I sat down to put this blog post together, my intention was to write about my families outdoor adventures over the past two months.  During the writing process and editing of photos I came across a Facebook link from two of my fellow Vancouver Island adventure friends.  The link was a report from the Canadian Parks Council that was reported on by the Calgary Herald.  The headline was Parks Ministers urging Canadians to "go play outside"! and the report is titled Connecting Canadians with Nature.  Two alarming statistics are in this report.
The amount of time it is estimated that we spend indoors

Decline in the radius of play for a nine year old since the 1970's 

When did that happen?  In Canada no less??  As Canadians, we live in one of the most beautiful natural environments in the world.  Canada has abundant lakes and rivers, vast forests and prairie fields, majestic mountains, and deep oceans.  That is only the tip of the iceberg (we have those too).  Time and activities spent outdoors in each of these settings is endless! 
Quickly I modified my original blog post, deciding to take the outdoor adventures we as a family have enjoyed over the last 60 days and use them to demonstrate how creative, diverse, and fun it is to spend time outdoors and connect with nature. 

When you read the list of nine outdoor activities, keep in mind that we are just a regular Canadian family.  Joel and I both work, Joel full time and me part time from home.  Ben and Liv play soccer or swim (pending the season) and take music or art classes regularly throughout the year.  We socialize with friends, navigate our way through the busy school calendar and life along with supporting our local fire department via Joel's commitment as a volunteer fire fighter.  This includes countless hours and weekends of training, responding to calls and connecting with the community and fellow fire families.  Through it all, we still make time for outdoor adventure.

Nine ways to connect with nature on the West Coast of Canada!

1. Mountain Biking.  No shortage of trails on Vancouver Island, we are known for them! There are trails that are suitable for all riding levels and is a great way to explore a forest. 

2. Day hikes.  A walk through the forest can rejuvenate your energy, mood, productivity, and creativity.  I love how our local trails change from season to season and re-connects us to nature.

3. Night Hiking.  Everyone has busy lives and sometimes we can't get out for a hike during the day.  Night hiking offers a completely different look to the nature we are used to and gives us the chance to get a little closer to nocturnal creatures.

4. Group Hiking.  How many times have you heard someone say, "We should get together some time?" Amazing what a spontaneous phone call or text inviting friends to join in on a hike can create.  We all left the hike a whole lot happier than when we arrived. Even more amazing was the ice wall!

5. Training.  It is common for someone in our house to be training for some race.  No matter who or what it is, we train as a family and our preference is to train outside.  For example, if Dad goes for a long run, the rest of us run a shorter loop.  Sometimes we just go for a trail run together.  Ever race the tide?

6. Animal tracking.  As much as I love our local forest, walking the same trails can get tedious.  We add a bit of adventure by following animal trails and discover the forest holds more creatures than we had thought.  Our forests are full of life and discovering them connects us to our environment.

7. Snowshoe.  My favorite snow activity is snowshoeing.  Stomping though the snow is a great way to get exercise, breath in fresh air, and find happiness.

8. Surfing.  Being tossed around in the waves is proof that being in nature is hands on! Natural spaces are dynamic, changing, complex, and disorderly.  This describes surfing the west coast of Vancouver Island perfectly! Look what washed up on shore!

9. Downhill ski.  Sometimes we just connect with nature for the pure fun of it. 

In the Canadian Parks Council report, it states that Canadians are craving a renewed relationship with nature. That is great to hear! If I can offer my humbled opinion - one way is to make contact with nature a regular part of day to day life. My family, and so many other families and individuals are proof that it is possible.  There is a powerful sentence towards the end of the report that I would like to share with and hope it reignites a spark within you.

"We can make contact with nature second nature." 

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