Category Archives: Education

camping in Ontario

Outdoor Adventure Show Is Made For Kids

Fresh back from the 2016 Outdoor Adventure Show in Toronto, I can report the attraction was designed with young families in mind and it really is a great place for Heads-Up Dads to spend Saturday with the kids.  It’s cost effective too. Adults pay $14, and children age eleven and under get in free.

There’s no sandbox, bumper cars or bouncy gyms here, and no food courts either, but the whole show is something of a play zone with every vendor offering up something cool for young people. The three-day exhibition has a wide array of adventure options for all age groups right there on the trade show floor.  Many booths have interactive games for 8-12 year olds, mostly puzzle challenges; smart dealers know they need to tie up young family members so they can talk shop with parents.

Here are some of the more interesting ‘youth engagement’ strategies I witnessed,

The Adventure Convention Organizers Included Activities for Young People

tradeshow passport for prizesThe show’s organizers had young families in mind when they created the Outdoor Adventurers Passport wherein kids can collect stamps (paw prints) from vendors for prizes at the end of the journey.  A completed passport could be turned in for both short term rewards and a chance of winning a much bigger prize later. The true benefit is for vendors of course as this tactic effortlessly draws in families with young children; this passport is an ice breaker with an easy greeting ritual and friendly exchange that makes it real easy to talk afterwards.

Everywhere I looked there were young people getting their adventure on; they were climbing rock walls, and in one corner of the show kids were zip lining between platforms overhead.  In this respect young people acquired a different perspective on the event than their parents.

Outdoor Adventure Show rock wall climbing
Kids climbing up the rock wall – photo by Rob Campbell

A Spinning Wheel Mesmerizes Kids and Dispenses Coupons to Parents

SpintheWheel1There were a couple Crown & Anchor wheels which had been repurposed into spin-the-wheel games for coupons.  The one on the right was operated by Tourism Toronto and dispensed SUP vouchers, gift certificates, coloring books and there was almost always a crowd of youngsters in front of this rig.

But the real pedestrian crush occurred in the main aisle just inside the front door where it bottle-necked around the Flight Center and a hot deals travel agency. If you were shopping for discount airfare for your next family trip then this was probably a good place to be. Regarding the crowd I think what happened was the new people coming in the door came up against the folks who’d been around once already and everyone jammed up on Main St there in front of Xcitelife.

Xcitelife is a Marketplace for Unique Experiences for the Whole Family

People could not get down the center aisle without encountering a list of fun things to do at Xcitelife; the booth attendants wore black shirts with red X’s. This is the company motif and the X stands for experience and not extreme. Their charismatic greeters stood near their company flags drumming up excitement for their experience marketplace and they signed up many influential new users.

Xcitelife at the Outdoor Adventure Show

Xcitelife asked families to make a Bucket List; their software helps decision makers source travel solutions in the coming months and years. Check out Earth Girl and another great profile from the show is Martin,  The new members wrote their aspirations on red paper X’s which they pinned to a dream board. The board soon displayed the collective vacation fantasies of the entire show and it was from this arena that a prize winner was eventually selected.

Xcitelife-bucketList1
Paul’s own Bucket List – photo by Rob Campbell

“Everyone wants to live an Xciting life, but too often folks get stuck in the ordinary” says Paul Peic. “At Xcitelife we’ve made it our mission to transform lives through experiences.”

There was no food court, but there was protein available at the show.

D&D Meats from Alliston Ontario, venison sausages

Kids love cured meat! D & D Meats were among the only food vendors at the show. There were granola bars and trail mixes in the survival quadrant, but this booth was the only meat option.  This family-owned cured meat shop from Alliston Ontario had a wide corner all to themselves, and were doing a brisk business selling beef jerky, pepperoni, sausages and kielbasa.

All day long people streamed through the crowded event eddying about in open areas of the trade show floor and milling around the central water pool.  This aquatic attraction was also called the Demo Pool and frequently had young performers showing off their skills in the latest model kayaks.

The crowd also collected in front of three live theatres where experts shared stories and advice. This author came upon the Adventures in Paddling stage just as the float plane touched down on Rabbitkettle Lake on the Nahanni River and a flat water paddler unpacked stand-up paddle boards for the whole family.

Rapid Media Best Kayak Reviews 2016 Paddling Buyer’s Guide, also SUPs, Canoe Reviews.

Adventures in Paddling theatre was surrounded by the latest model SUPs or Stand Up Paddle Boards, canoes and kayaks for sale, and on the far side of the opening stood the Rapid Media booth with giant posters displaying their magazine titles.

Kayak buyers guide, rapid media
2016 Paddling Buyers Guide – photo by Rob Campbell

Elijah Liedtke pointed out the 2016 kayak reviews and then he gave me an insider link to the online kayak reviews, paddling buyer’s guide. which is free and considered one of the big secrets of the show.

Kayak1sharablemoment2Rapid Media had some all-ages engagement strategies at play, and in the age of shareable moments the magazine title cardboard cutouts were really busy, especially the ‘Wild Women’ Adventure Kayak magazine cutout seen at right.

Rapid Media has done well in the paddling space with four popular magazines, Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Kayak Angler, and Rapid the whitewater magazine. These publications are gorgeous print mags filled with real life travel stories, photos, videos and professional gear reviews from expert paddlers all over the world. At the show the editorial staff were selling half price annual subscriptions.

Each of the three live theatres was sponsored by one magazine or another, and besides the paddling magazine one was dedicated to scuba diving and another to hiking; and the land trekking theatre was sponsored by Outpost Magazine, which is all about getting geared up and making long distance journeys across vast scenic landscapes.

Outpost Magazine at Outdoor Adventure Show

History Exhibits Tell Stories at the Outdoor Adventure Show

Iroqoius Village tribal experience

First Nations storytellers enthralled kids by relating the Voyage of the Iroquois. The area attendants were dressed in native Canadian regalia, and the walls of their particular open attraction were filled with images taken by passengers inside the giant twelve person canoes. These pictures are from summer trips that spend two or three weeks paddling the historic trade routes of the Voyageurs!

Kids could indeed soak up a lot of history from the installations at the show, and at one exhibit in particular there was displayed stone axe heads, arrowheads and spear points from the Stone Age. At noon in the Survival Theatre on Saturday there was an expert from Parks Canada who was able to show crowds how the First Canadians could hunt and kill great beast with primitive weapons. One guy seen below actually assembled arrows and spears in front of a live audience.

collecting arrowheads from native Canadian settlements

Kids of all ages love the Toronto Adventure Show and the best part are experts like this guy who share first hand knowledge.  This is a family show that’s fit for outdoor adventurers of all ages – more information about the 2016 Outdoor Adventure Show on Toronto Guardian.

How to financially support your child’s cost of living while attending University

Saving for your kids education

With tuition fees alone for a three-year undergraduate course expected to reach £24,000 or more in the UK ($30,000 – $75,000 or more in Canada and the US) the cost of a university education for many may prove suffocating without some kind of financial aid provided by us as parents.

Tuition fees are only the tip of the iceberg for many undergraduate students. There’s also the not so small matter of accommodation and living costs to pay for. Student loans and grants are obtainable for students who qualify, but those who don’t are almost certainly going to require some form of financial supplement from the ‘Bank of Mom and Dad’!

Most parents are keen to help pay some of these costs but unless you have stored up plenty of savings over a number of years it can prove difficult to pay off large chunks of a tuition fee loan. It will leave students with crushing debts that may take many years to pay off.

A key component to avoiding debt is budgeting. Students and parents should make a detailed budget at the beginning of each school year. Figure out what money you have and when it’s available, rather than in February when you realize you’re out of money and then you have to scramble to go out and get a job and work 20 hours a week just to make ends meet. Financial worries can pile up and become extreme sources of stress at the very time you’re staring down at exams and midterm papers become due. Working between six and 10 hours a week really doesn’t have a negative impact on students scholastically, but when you are putting in too many hours, your studies and your success at school will suffer. Working just 6 – 10 hours per week tends to force you to become more organized and that will help a student across the board.

Credit cards are one of the easiest methods of accumulating unnecessary debt, and we caution students to consider the ease of accessing credit wisely, especially new students who are unfamiliar with the credit system.

If you are looking for creative ways to support your kids without the fear of accumulating unwanted or unneccessary debt, one of the best ways to supplement your child’s financial position at university is to give them a helping hand with their weekly spend on groceries, incidentals, utilities and occasional socializing. Giving them cash can lead to poor financial management, accumulation of unpaid bills and the inevitable ask for more. Giving credit cards can expose you and your kid to wanted financial liability. There is something in between.

One of the best ways to help your child become more financially responsible and manage their money more effectively while attending university is to provide them with a pre-paid credit card. The premise of a pre-paid card is that you simply load the funds you want to spend and once it’s gone, it’s gone! As one of the fastest growing consumer trends in the UK, prepaid cards are a fantastic money management tool with many other added features and benefits. Prepaid cards such as the Pockit MasterCard® a do not have an overdraft or credit facility attached, effectively reducing the risk of accruing unwanted debt. As a parent this could allow you to come to an arrangement with your son or daughter to provide them with a predefined amount of funds each week or month, giving them the responsibility to manage their money without the threat of going into debt or unlimited liability.

Better still, cards such as the Pockit MasterCard® are accepted anywhere you can use a MasterCard – that’s over 30 million locations worldwide – giving your child the convenience of a debit or credit card without the risk of being buried in reckless debt. With power and freedom comes great responsibility, but it also comes with a host of additional exclusive offers on utilities, car insurance, impromptu days out and more. Offers vary by provider and geographic location.

University is meant to be some of the best times in your kid’s life. Save as much as you can now to prepare for their future and when the time comes, consider a prepaid mastercard to cover some of the smaller stuff. Allow them to focus on school instead of worrying about bills with the piece of mind and financial security offered by a well thought out education savings plan.

Surviving college or university without incurring debt may seem impossible to most of us, but it can be done. Murray Baker graduated from the University of Western Ontario without a cent of debt. He wrote the book on it. Murray is the author of The Debt-Free Graduate: How to Survive College or University Without Going Broke, a comprehensive and amusing guide to minimizing post secondary debt.

Murray says that the best strategies for surviving postsecondary education without an avalanche of debt are preparation and knowing your resources. He has brought many of his useful tips and strategies to the Web via The Debt-Free Guide and an array of Financial Planning Tools which he developed in partnership with Human Resources and Development Canada. All designed to assist students and parents with planning their post secondary education.

 

 

Fingerplay for the five and under set: Five Little Leaves

Leaf coloouring activities for Kids

Colouring activities for Kids

Hello Parents and caregivers of children under five…

Here is a fun fingerplay that you can enjoy again and again with your child and children as you adjust to the cooler weather, spend more time inside and celebrate the fall season together!

Fingerplays support your child’s development in so many ways. They encourage your child to listen and to speak, to co-ordinate hand and finger movements that accompany the words, to use their imagination, to practice counting and to hear the musical quality of spoken words. They play an important part of your children’s fine motor skills development which is the precurser to learning to draw, write and work with their hands.

You don’t need props to do this fingerplay, but the rhyme can easily be extended into a fun and simple craft activity, if you like. All you need are construction paper, tape, pictures of leaves (many can be found in Google Images, or here at 321coloringpages) and crayons or markers or pastels or paints…

When you have found leaf images you like, encourage your child to colour them, then help with cutting them out. Set the leaves aside, then cut out five strips of construction paper, just long enough to wrap around your fingers, like rings. Tape the ends together.

Cut strips of paper long enough to wrap around each finger

Now you can attach the leaves to the rings using paper clips. Put the leaf rings on your fingers and then you are ready to recite this simple rhyme that the little ones adore. With each repetition you can easily remove one leaf at a time by sliding off the paper clip. The leaf cut outs can be used to help your child understand number concepts such as counting and subtracting in a creative way.

Leaf finger Puppets

Leaf finger Puppets

 

Be prepared to say this rhyme over, and over and over again:

Five little leaves went out to play (hold up five fingers)

They danced upon a tree one day (wave hand back and forth)
The wind came blowing through the town
Wooooooooo!
And one little leaf came blowing down (wave one finger back and forth in a downward direction)

Repeat this rhyme, subtracting one leaf each time until no little leaves remain.

For more information on the importance of art in children’s education, or for educators, parents and care providers who are looking for creative ideas to share with young children, please feel welcome to participate in helping to create a community of teachers and learners who enrich the lives of young children through the arts at the Early Childhood Arts Connection.

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FLOWING WITH THE GOOD GUYS

It was with great sadness that I read about the recent Norwegian terrorist attacks. A tragic ordeal for any country to have to experience, yet there was a point in the story where I found one Norwegian’s comment to be equally absurd as the attacks were cruel. A woman’s response to the killings was, “Why are they killing us? We’re the good guys!” Most of us think the same way; we are the good guys, the ones who know what’s best or what is right. Adolf Hitler was convinced that his Nazi movement was the best solution for the world’s problems. And through his eyes, it was. The same can be said for Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush and it is with this lack of awareness upon which most of mankind operates.

Albeit slowly, an increasing number of the world’s population is adopting a different viewpoint (or philosophy, or truth) that there is no right and no wrong, there simply is. This is not to say that whatever happens in the world is acceptable. It is to understand that only the flow of nature exists and that everything happening is a part of that flow. It is the understanding that there are no shoulds or shouldn’ts, only choices. The difference is that should’s and shouldn’t’s are constructs of our mind, while clear choices (I will or I won’t) come from the heart.

I recently witnessed a parent become very frustrated, claiming that her toddler was supposed to listen to her, as if it were her child’s job. In reality, her child’s only job is to act naturally, which is to be aware in some moments and unaware in other moments. If the mother chooses to parent consciously, then it is in fact her job to find a way to be in relationship with her child, discovering ways to flow with both her child’s awareness and lack thereof.

Essentially, life is about relationships, or how we relate to each of our experiences. Have you ever experienced physical pain and thought “This shouldn’t be happening!”? When we don’t flow with nature, believing that something should or shouldn’t be happening, we create suffering for ourselves. A common reaction I’ve seen after reading of earthquakes is “Why would God make such a thing happen!?” Conversely I recall many comments made of the Japanese response to their recent earthquake/tsunami experience, as they largely exemplified acceptance around what happened, while then responding to what needed attention. When we flow with nature, working with what is, we create more ease for ourselves.

Consider that all the ‘unnatural’ deaths that have ever occurred are serving to build our global collective pain that is now bringing about our planet’s current shift in consciousness. Consider that every cubic ton of pollution we’ve created thus far is serving to awaken us to the point where we once again realize the true value of our planet. Many sacrifices have been made in order to create the opportunity that lies before us all. Consider that there is no right and no wrong—only countless opportunities to, through awareness, healthfully flow with what is. After all, we’re all the good guys, each of us sharing a common desire: to be happy, as each of us does our best to find our way.

How to be “good” at waiting…

 

“Waiting is painful.

Forgetting is painful.

But not knowing which to do

is the worse kind of suffering.”

~ Paulo Coelho


Imagine never waiting for anything again. Ever.

For sure, life would never be the same, but not for the reason you think.

Realistically, to wait is to suffer. The suffering can come in many forms. It can come in the form of being or feeling irritated while waiting five whole seconds for a YouTube video to be buffered before it starts to play (Irritated—really? Its coming from outer space!). Or suffering may also show up as anguish while you wait for your doctor’s phone call regarding the results of your biopsy. Simply put, this suffering is your spirit’s warning system that you’re missing out on life in some way, because you’re not present. Your spirit (or soul or heart) wants you to enjoy life and is devoted to guide you there in the healthiest way possible–if you’re willing and able to listen to it.

Waiting

My life changed in some way the day I learned that there are dialects in the world which contain no word for boredom. These would be languages (such as Hindi and Swahili) which emerged from a time when humans were much more interconnected with both their inner and outer environment. This is not to say that these old world cultures received everything they wanted through immediacy, yet were more in touch with their interconnectedness, particularly by way of their bodies being their guides. When one is connected in this way, one is aware, and when one is aware, one doesn’t wait. In a situation where we don’t immediately receive what we want, we can practice the art of being, or being present. And when we’re present, boredom doesn’t exist as there is no possibility of waiting.

Think of someone in your life whom you consider extremely patient. Your Mom? Your Dad? Your Grandfather? This would not be an example of a person who is ‘good at waiting’, but someone who easily finds acceptance around the things which take time to materialize. What other qualities does this person hold which can be related to their awareness? How about gratefulness, humility or wisdom? Interestingly the word patience has its origin in Latin, stemming from the verb pati or ‘suffering’. Meanwhile acceptance also has its origin in Latin; accipere or ‘to accept, or to take’.

Waiting

The person who appears extremely patient is likely accepting what is happening, or taking that time, that opportunity to be in that very moment.

 Consider the gift that comes with having to wait. For the student on a conscious path, waiting is the opportunity to check in and notice how the suffering is being self-created.

How can you become more aware and in the present?

Have you tried meditation? Take twenty minutes each day to just “be” on your own. Studies show that individuals who practice meditation can clear distracting thoughts (like impatience) from their minds more quickly than individuals who don’t meditate. That sort of ability comes in handy when you are sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting for your connecting flight which has been delayed—again.

You can prepare for moments when you need to wait by spending just 20 minutes a day meditating. You don’t have to do anything actually. Just sit in a quiet place and focus on your breath going in your nose and out your mouth. Whenever a distracting thought pops up, don’t allow yourself to go there. Just note the thought, let it go, and focus back on your breath. With practice, your mind will quiet down, and your ability to dismiss unwanted thoughts will improve. Being aware and in the moment will come to you.

Yoga? If you are practicing yoga, bring it back to your practice. Invite your awareness inside the body and notice it’s attempt to generate more ease, relaxation and stability. 

‘Wait and see’ is a commonly used phrase in the English language–one that often creates suffering. Rather than suffering, empower yourself by turning this phrase into a choice; ‘wait or see’.

What works for you? Let us know.

Haven’t tried any of these yet? Why not give it a try?

Until next time,

Don

Toxic Chemicals in personal skin care products?

Dirty_hands

I have been doing a lot of gardening over the past couple of months and it has been great. Lots of fresh air, hard work and I am learning a lot.

It’s killing my hands though. Shovelling, digging, gettting dirty, washing, getting dirty. Washing again has taken its toll. I use a lot of moisturizers but it does not seem to make much of a difference. It feels good once I put products on, but as soon as my hands are back in the dirt and back into the tap water, dry as a bone and chafing. It occurred to me that maybe these moisturizers aren’t really doing such a great job after all.

After looking into some other more effective options for skincare products that might heal my busy, abused hands, I learned a lot that really surprised and alarmed me. Did you know, that most of the products you buy at the drugstore, or at the grocery store, contain a bunch of nasty stuff that is toxic and harmful to humans? The more I dug, the more I discovered how everyday personal care products are laced with stuff you would never want in your bloodstream if you knew it was there.

If only we knew about the hidden toxic chemicals that can be found in everyday personal care products… Chemicals that are cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting and allergy-inducing.

The presence of these toxins isn’t new:

They have been there all along.

We think it’s time to shed the light on the hidden, dangerous toxins that exist in body care products for men. But we need your help. We need you to roll up your sleeves and help us flag the products that you would like to know more about.

Cologne, bar soap, deodorant, shaving cream. These are all common products that we use everyday. Used by us, by our sons, brothers, fathers or husbands. On a daily basis, these products are rubbed and absorbed into our skin, with very lax regulations on the ingredients used to make them.

Environmental Defense

Environmental Defense is an organization that looks after us, fights for us and helps make the government take action on our behalf. Their new Just Beautiful campaign is all about testing products we use everyday to see just how safe they are to put on our skin. How safe are the personal products we use on our bodies? The answer: nobody knows. The cosmetic business is a deregulated wild west.

They would like to test ten common products that are part of the basic morning routine many men go through on a daily basis. And, reveal their findings to you.

As a parent myself with a young daughter and two small boys, I want to know whether the products I use daily are safe for me and for my kids. We thought you might too. With our children’s health in our hands, we need to ensure that we are taking each step we can to protect them – today, tomorrow and as they grow older. When we can’t do it for ourselves, its great to know that people like Rick Smith from Environmental Defence has got our backs. He did it already with Bisphenol A in Baby Bottles and now he is on the case searching for hidden toxins that we know are lurking in our everyday personal care products.

By identifying the ingredients hidden in these products, we can continue to push for stronger federal regulations and accountability. But, this research will not be cheap.

As each product is put through a series of laboratory tests to detect different chemicals, testing will cost $710 per product.

Can we count on you to help Environmental Defense make men’s personal care products safe from harmful chemicals? Will you make a donation today?

Each gift will help cover the cost of a product to be tested. And, what better time than to do it today!

How to heal your dry, chapped skin without slathering on harmful toxins?

If you are looking for some great options for effective skin care products that are all natural, non toxic and free from dark, hidden secrets there are options out there. They are just not as easy to find. One place you can look is Made From Earth Organics.


I have been using some of their products recently and I really love them. I have a couple of bars of lovely soap that gets me and my kids dirty hands clean without drying them to a chafe. I also use an amazing face wash that cools, cleans and refreshes after a long day without stripping your skin of its natural moisture. I am a chapstick guy who always travels with one in my pocket and another in my car. You will love theirs. Blows the drugstore variety off the shelf. The only problem is, now that I am addicted to these, I will never be able to buy a cheap and cheerful drugstore product again.

Do you have any questions, products you would like Environmental Defense to test or men’s grooming products you would like us to review and share with our audience?

Please feel free to comment below, email me directly or send us a tweet @HeadsUp_Dad