Category Archives: Sports and Rec.

Help your child realize that he or she’s a confident and capable person who is able to accomplish significant achievements through sports and recreation activities in the backyard, at the park or local community centre.

Springtime Photography Challenges on Lenzr

Shiny Metal surfaces, best cottage moments and more photo contest with Lenzr in CanadaSpringtime Photography Fun

Looking for some more activities to share with your kids? Remember the benefits of photography are more available now that cameras are inexpensive, indeed disposable.

Photography challenges are good for developing a ‘technical creativity’, and they’re also a great form of self expression. Take photos of your kids or better yet let them have the camera and give them the opportunity to pick the subjects and make digital documents. Give them specific goals as outlined by this month’s four Lenzr photo contests, and stand back to properly coach their success.

Self expression is crucial for healthy emotional development. Here are four excellent Lenzr photo contests that might help you get started for your days of photography with your kids. If you aren’t skilled in photography, don’t worry, this is a perfect chance to learn with your child. Relax, learning is better and easier when it’s made to be fun.

Weather the Storm

Weather The Storm photo contest is a great chance to get meteorological with your camera and child. It doesn’t have to be stormy skies, it can be a single shocking cloud on the horizon, or a steamy scene by the lake, or a threatening sunset.A best cottage moments from a Muskoka cottage in Ontario Canada Use filters and photo editing because that’s allowed on Lenzr. Take the digital camera outside your house and experiment in capturing these stormy skies. Remember on Lenzr you can submit the photos free – get your child to help you to write a little story behind the photo. This will enhance the imagination of the craft. The prize is a Sony Cyber-shot digital camera your child may enjoy courtesy of a Toronto commercial flat roofing company.

Wakeboarding on Lake Muskoka, from Muskoka cottage onlineBest Cottage Moments

This Best Cottage Moments photo challenge is a celebration of your best moments at the cottage. Your whole family can star in this one – for many people the cottage is special because the memories that have nothing to do with school. You can incorporate a different type of learning fun outdoors. The contest winner is offered a valuable prize of a Sony digital camera with lots of amazing features thanks to a Muskoka cottage for sale online. Its an unusual sponsor, but a great prize and good popular theme – someone is going to win.

The cottage owner has left a few of his own magic moments on his blog, and one in particular I will share here is from 2009 when himself and friends went wakeboarding on Lake Muskoka. The post chronicles this niche water sport in considerable detail.

What’s in The Fridge?

Do you ever find your kids in the kitchen opening and closing the fridge door constantly? I once heard about a transparent fridge. Or one with a simple Plexiglas door; the idea would be to have a fridge with a transparent door so anyone could just look inside without actually opening the device – would save energy.  We still haven’t seen that on the market yet, but more likely there could be one with a flat screen which would show the contents of the fridge at the touch of a button.  A printable coupone sponsored Lenzr canada photo contest April and May 2011 Anyhow please take advantage of this with this photo contest called What’s In Your Fridge. Get creative with your camera and use your imagination to create the best photo image of what’s in your fridge and you have the chance to fill some bellies with good nutritious food (or any food you choose) for a while. The contest prize is $500 worth of groceries thanks to sponsor’s printable coupons which of course you do NOT have to use or even acknowledge but you might want to check out that site. We all know it’s not easy to feed your kids these days. If your teenagers can help you share coupons you can all work up a great rewards system that will actually make it worth your while.

Shiny Metal Surfaces
Lenzr photo contest April and May for Shiny metal surfaces thanks to metal panels company
Grown-ups and children of all ages will warm to this photo challenge.  Small children love the lure of the shiny metal surfaces. It makes you wonder what it is they find so appealing? where’s the mystery? But there is something that catches our eyes… Well, you can all work together on this Shiny Metal Surfaces photo contest. Don’t forget to upload your photos for free and you and your child could win an amazing Sony Camera with lots of options to add to your camera collection thanks to the metal panels company that likes photography too. The camera would make a good birthday gift – it has a motion detector on it so you can leave it in your storage locker and set it to record anyone who breaks the envelope of the frame – you can watch later as they steal all of your shiny metal surfaces.

Lenzr photo contests are all about the art of photography and encouraging the creativity and fun for photographers of all skill levels. Enjoy the moments with your child and share in photography experience. Give them skills and opportunities to use their imagination and gain self confidence through their self expression. Take pleasure and pride in the creative process and give positive guidance when you can. The contests are taking place now. Sit with your child and look at the other photos to get some ideas. The contest voting begins May 15th 2011, so mark your calendar. Then the voting ends May 25th 2011. Set your schedule. The top ten voted photos will advance to judges and the prize winners will be announced June 1st 2011. Take some creative risks, enjoy the experience with your child, and grow along the way.

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When A Highschool Hockey Program Goes Hollywood

Educators will tell you that having a winning sports team can inject efficacy and enthusiasm into an entire student body. There’s a buzz in the halls, and a new energy in the classroom, because it’s myth making and on some level each school victory makes everyone feel special. Kids remember where they were when it happened; they’re now part of their school’s  history forevermore.

Here in Canada, we praise hockey achievement above all other sports, yet having the proper facilities to train players, and funds to provide equipment and pay qualified coaches is usually more than most public schools can afford. That’s why some parents, the ones who just know, or have been told enough times that their sons have real hockey talent, often elect to send them to private schools. In this decision they ensure their boys get a good education, and the best possible access to hockey arenas and advanced coaching.

There’s a list of all hockey boarding schools in Canada on HF Hockey Forums and conversation has started there about which is the best and has the best reputation.

St. Andrew’s College (SAC), an all-boys’ school in Aurora, Ontario made a video to showcase their high school hockey program, and it’s downright heroic.

St. Andrew’s College, Varsity Hockey video on YouTube

The video debuted during the Toronto Film Festival at The Spoke Club at King and Portland (an approved TIFF venue) and for the amusement of many noteworthy benefactors, board members, parents, educators and administrators. There was all manner of snacks and a wide selection of beverages, accompanied by soft music, the setting supported superb conversation between SAC’s most preeminent people.

SAC video release, snacks, trays, Toronto, Spoke ClubHere’s a glimpse inside the festivities.  More information presented in Videos Launch on new St. Andrew’s College website including biographical data on William Scoular who directed the videos, and appeared at Spoke Club on Friday September 10th to shakes hands and answer questions.

The Producer/ Director, William Scoular , Head of Drama at St. Andrew’s College for the past 23 years, described the making of the videos during a private viewing at The Spoke Club in Toronto last Friday, September 10th from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Last year, in an effort to differentiate St. Andrew’s from its competition, Scoular set out to illustrate the meaning of the School’s mission statement: “the development of the complete man, the well-rounded citizen.”

Scoular also maintains a professional life outside of St. Andrew’s as a director and writer for both stage and screen.

A glimpse inside the festivities surrounding the completion and release of great media for St. Andrew’s College during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). More information presented in <a href=”http://www.sac.on.ca/news/detail.aspx?pageaction=ViewSinglePublic&amp;LinkID=440&amp;ModuleID=89&amp;NEWSPID=1″ rel=”nofollow”>Videos Launch on new St. Andrew’s College website</a> including biographical data on William Scoular who directed the videos, and appeared at Spoke Club on Friday September 10th to shakes hands and answer questions.

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Lenzr Photo Safari For Kids – 3 new photo contests for iPads

Challenge your kids with cool photography assignments!

A great activity that will engage their creative side, develop new skills and give them something fun to focus on this fall.

girl with camera on a photo safariVisit Lenzr.com and choose a photography assignment. Lenzr challenges people of all ages and skill levels to upload specific images for a safe and friendly web competition in exchange for real prizes. At Lenzr, the membership picks the winners—Its super fun and easy, just shoot, upload, share with friends and family, get the most people to vote for your photo and you will win an iPad.

Parents looking to engage their children with fun and creative play activities can map out a Lenzr photo safari. It is a great way to learn, have fun and make memories by shooting photos of cool stuff where ever you live. You or your kids could win a nice new iPad for getting the most votes in the photo contest.

This month’s photo safari starts with a trip to the rooftop deck – or any safe vantage point upon which a young person with a camera might capture a view of a distant rural horizon or urban cityscape.

Industrial, flat roof, repair company, Toronto, View From The Roof contest plate on Lenzr, The View From The Roof photo contest on Lenzr hopes to collect and archive many different landscapes from all across Canada. Most will be from a vantage point about thirty feet or so above ground. Some folks who live in apartment buildings in big cities will have a much higher view from the roof.

The Apple iPad prize was provided by a flat roof repair service that puts new white ToughRoof systems to work in the greater Toronto Area.  Dan Sheridan is a white roof  specialist and an expert at remodeling roofs into the perfect (all white = reflective) terrain for increased solar panel production.

Lenzr photo contest plate for portable solar power company, Morning Sunshine, Win an iPadWhich brings us to the second assignment in the weekend family photo safari. The Morning Sunshine photo contest is a little tricky only because it requires getting up really early and taking pictures in the special light that first burns off the morning mist. Its a magic hour thing.

Special thanks to Michael Reichmann, the Ontario photographer who donated this Sunrise_Barn photo from his Ontario photography gallery .  The contest sponsor is a portable solar power generator (PSG’s) design and manufacturing firm in southern Ontario. The Solarline Power, Mobile Solar Work Units are quiet, reliable and deliver clean renewable energy, more info about these solar trailers on the Lenzr blog.

People Building Things photo contest is third and although it has the least pictures right now, its our belief this challenge is the easiest to enter and win. Although it seems like a very specific topic, anything constructive will probably be accepted in the match.

This third iPad prize to be dispensed was purchased by a solar powered deck building company. The sponsors of this challenge use green building programs and clean energy to (quietly) cut lumber and make your backyard paradise. Submit pics of People Building Things and tell us the story behind each picture.

In all three contests, the registered member that uploads the highest ranked image will WIN AN iPad! Voting begins September 20th 2010 – the highest ranked photograph for each contest automatically wins this awesome prize when the Contest Closes on Oct 1st, 2010. Contest is open to all Canadians (must be 13yrs old or older), not valid in Quebec.

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Yay—Summer is here!

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Yay—Summer is here!, originally uploaded by HeadsUp_Dad.

Well, if you haven’t already noticed, summer is in full swing. Heat waves, power outages, traffic jams, highway construction, air conditioners, cold beer on the patio, burgers on the barbeque, weekends up at the cottage, beach time, camping trips, outdoor adventure, family fun, summer holidays! We have been waiting for this all year. Woo Hoo!

Get out there, enjoy the warm sunshine, beautiful weather, the beach, the cottage by the lake, your boat on the water, the golf course, the baseball diamond, the local pool, the back yard barbeque, wading pools in municipal parks, summer camp, canoe trips, sailing in the harbour, festivals and events, summer concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, the hiking trails, a road trip or a family adventure. Enjoy the company of friends, your family—and definitely, spend some time on your own.

Let your kids run loose in the park, ride a bike down a dusty road in the country, explore the ravine behind your house, wander the beach barefoot. All of these moments will create memories of summer that will last a lifetime. Soak it all in, write it down, take plenty of photos, shoot them on video and take time to just be.

Have tons of fun but be sure to put on plenty of sunscreen, keep an eye out for kids on the road, be safe around the water and keep your eye on the kids whenever they are playing in or around water. As much fun as they can be, and as great as they are a place to cool off, every year kids drown in back yard pools, lakes and rivers because somebody was not paying attention. Don’t be that guy.

Know what it looks like when someone is in trouble.

Most people assume that a drowning person will splash, yell, and wave for help; and why wouldn’t they? That’s what we see on TV. Without training, we are conditioned first to think of drowning as a violent struggle that is noisy and physical. In actuality, it is not.

The Instinctive Drowning Response represents a person’s attempts to avoid the actual or perceived suffocation in the water. The suffocation in water triggers a constellation of autonomic nervous system responses that result in external, unlearned, instinctive drowning movements that are easily recognizable by trained rescue crews.

Will you know it when you see it?

Characteristics of the Instinctive Drowning Response:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary, or overlaid, function. Breathing must be fulfi lled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

For additional information, visit “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” by Mario Vittone on the G Captain Blog.

For more information, tips and resources about survival in the water, check out On Scene Magazine: The Journal of U. S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue.

Have a great summer…

Check in often. We’ll be posting photos, stories, video and other illuminating stuff to amuse and maybe even inspire. Send us your summer stories. Send us your photos and links to your videos. We just may share them with the rest of the HeadsUpDad community.

This father’s day, we’re going fishing!

Headsupdad.com - This Father's Day, we're going Fishing!

We caught a fish as long as my arm that weighed about 13lbs!

Do you remember when I’d write you poems like these for Father’s Day?
And I was probably about 7 years old
Dancing around when you’d come home from work…

Ever since I was young, I have loved going on fishing trips with my dad, even if it meant getting up at 6AM. It’s been a few years since we’ve gone, but I still remember how to cast and reel in a catch, so I think we’ll be okay.

For years my Dad took me to the Outdoors show, and fishing competitions just to spend some time outside with him. I remember the times I’d cast my line and hit a rock, and quietly wait to mention something, until he’d look over and laugh saying “I don’t think you’re line is strong enough to reel that rock in”. Countlessly untangling my fishing line, and unhooking the fish I’d caught brought us together, and we became voyageurs of the seas! (errr… Georgian Bay).

The moment I will never forget is at a fishing competition we went to when I was about eleven. We set up our chairs on the dock and put the fresh bait on the hook, ready to reel in that $1000 trout! A couple of hours had passed by, and I was so frustrated that we had not even had a nibble on our lines, I started to complain and wanted to go home. My dad insisted we stay for a little bit longer, because it was a nice day and we had nothing to rush home to. After about an hour of pouting I fell into a deep sleep, with my hat over my eyes.

KIMMY! I awoke abruptly to my dad hovering over me trying to grasp my rod, there it was, the big bite we had been waiting for! I was so startled and quickly my Dad and I brought in the fish together. It was huge to me, probably weighing about 13 pounds, I was grinning from ear to ear as we brought him in and up on the dock. My dad could not believe I had fallen asleep and managed to catch a trout, because he didn’t even get one. I bragged the entire ride home, claiming I was just a natural, and the fish gravitated to my fishing approach, he just smiled.

It seems like many years ago, but I still remember it vividly. It’s the moments that are spontaneous and unplanned that make for the best memories. And by the way, it wasn’t the $1000 trout we’d caught, but we didn’t care.

Sustainable Family Fun in Toronto: The Evergreen Brickworks

Brickworks_DV107, originally uploaded by HeadsUp_Dad.

The weatherman was not so sure about how the day was going to unfold, but this gang of boys and one girl was not to be dissuaded by the weather map’s ambiguity.

It was Saturday afterall, and the weekend warrior’s eco-adventure awaits. Another opportunity to seek out a deeper connection to the world we live in, in a spectacular natural environment. Today, we were heading out to hike, climb, walk, scramble up, slide down and get as dirty as we could in pursuit of fun and frolic in the urban Jungle. Destination: The Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto via the Don Valley Ravine.

The Don Valley Brick Works Park is awe-inspiring: a haven for wildlife and naturalists alike, it is at the heart of Toronto’s ravines. Opened in 1996, the park is managed by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. The Don Valley Brick Works Park is worth a visit in any season.

Here is how the day unfolded…

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Evergreen Brick Works is a community environmental centre that inspires and equips visitors to live, work and play more sustainably.

Free and open to everyone, Don Valley Brick Works Park is the back garden to the revitalized industrial pad that is now Evergreen Brick Works. Spend an afternoon with your kids, bring your dog and a few friends. There is room for everyone. It feels more like a walk in the country.

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From 1889 to the 1980s the Don Valley Brick Works was one of Canada’s pre-eminent brickyards. At its peak more than 43 million bricks a year were manufactured for use in the construction of homes and buildings across Canada. Many of Toronto’s most prominent buildings were made from Don Valley brick – Massey Hall and Old City Hall are two examples.

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On Taking Risks…
When I see a pack of 3 and 4 years old boys and girls eagerly climbing over tree roots, walking through riverbeds, over stumps, under fallen trees, scrambling up and down steep inclines, it gives me a sense of gratitude. To know that my boys are taking on these small challenges head on with such enthusiasm tells me that they are going to do ok in life. These same photos may however cause some parents to stir uncomfortably in their seats. Isn’t that too risky? They are only four years old. Couldn’t they get hurt?

Risk is part of life.

We encounter it every day. We can avoid it entirely or we can learn how to manage it. Children need to learn about risk in moderated ways: One of the best ways to help children learn about risk is to teach them how to deal with difficult and tricky situations by allowing them to experience them in controlled conditions. How can kids, who are part of nature themselves, come to be fully aware and alive if they are not allowed to engage complicated situations and challenges outdoors? Everyone of those tree stumps, river beds, steep inclines and dirty bum adventures sliding down the big hill is an opportunity for your child to encounter, experience and manage risk for himself in a relatively safe, controlled and supervised natural environment. Your kids will emerge stronger, more capable and more confident with each new obstacle and a will to go on to the next one with renewed enthusiasm.

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Ravines

Evergreen Brick Works is situated in the heart of Toronto’s ravine network. Citizens and government agencies have been working to protect the city’s ravines from development since the late 1960s. Toronto’s network of ravines is much loved by city residents – for viewing nature, for hiking and biking. Author Robert Fulford once said “the ravines are to Toronto what canals are to Venice, hills are to San Francisco and the Thames is to London. They are the heart of the City’s emotional geography, and understanding Toronto requires an understanding of the ravines.” Evergreen Brick Works features programming related to and connected with the exploration of Toronto’s ravines.

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Watershed

The Don River Watershed is 38 km in length and 360 square km in area. While you were walking through here, you would not know that over 800,000 people live near here in and around the Don Valley – it is Canada’s most urban watershed. Citizen groups and government agencies have been working to “bring back the Don” since the late 1980s. Through Evergreen Brick Works, Evergreen is proud to be a contributor to the restoration of the Don.

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Nature right in our own back yard
Many of us are blind to the nature that is all around us. We are a windshield generation. We see everything these days through the lens of a windshield. Time is so tight, and we are so busy that we rarely take the time to stop to smell the roses anymore. City dwellers often drive past it every day and never even know what is there just on the other side of the guard rail. We urbanites go about our daily routines and rituals barely aware that we live next door to the nature that is all around us.

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Brickworks_DV45Just over there on the other side of the Guardrail

The Brickworks park in Toronto is a fine example. It is what exists just over the guardrail from the Don Valley Parkway as millions of commuters travel up and down it each and every day, with nary a moment thought about what exists down there. Well, as you can see, there is an awful lot to see and do. Stuff most people would not equate with the presence of a major commuter highway.

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We are blind to what is just under our noses because we expect nature to be much wilder, and grander, farther away—a place we have to travel great distances to get to. Somewhere you can only go on summer vacation once a year.

To your children, the local ravine behind your subdivision or a mile away is its own special universe. So much to see, to do, to touch, sense and feel. Taking the time to walk through these areas, to stop, to notice and reflect on what you see around you—trees, plants, animals, streams, ponds and pools, rock formations and wildflowers can be very rewarding and highly restorative. Let yourself go, and give your kids the time to stop and listen. Just be. There is nothing more calming, more relaxing, more rejuventating. Feel the warm spring breeze, smell the freshness of the air, soak in the sunlight as it filters through a canopy of green, leafy treetops. Slow down. Pay attention and just breathe.

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Schools can teach kids about trees, plants, wildlife, rivers, lakes, oceans and marine life in textbooks and encyclopedia’s. They provide education about geography, history and the environment, but it is personal connection to our natural environment that leads to an appreciation for the importance of and why we must sustain these spaces in our lives.

At HeadsUp Dad, we would like to encourage you to take time out this spring and summer to get outside, wander in the ravines, hike around your local park, drive out to the country and experience the healing powers of nature. Your kids just might (make that definitely will) come home dirty, with skinned knees and scraped elbows, but they will also most certainly have grown that much stronger, healthier and happier. They will come home glowing but tired, hungry and eager for a good home cooked meal and in the end a long, restorative night of deep sleep and endless dreams of adventure in the wild.

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Follow the meandering paths up the North Slope and you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the Toronto skyline. Your kids will want to slide all the way down on their butts squealing with delight every inch of the way.  At the bottom of the hill, there is a wetland area that offers a completely different experience. Walking along the boardwalks you are likely to spot a turtle or three sunning on a log and fish swimming in the ponds. Look for a great blue heron in the reeds, a family of ducks paddling along and songbirds too.

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Evergreen is proud to continue to protect and restore this important ecosystem. They can not do this important work alone. Why not consider rolling up your sleeves, diving in and helping out. You and your kids would have a great time and they would learn all kinds of wonderful things about plants and wildlife and the eco-system we all share. You could spend a morning tidying up the path and waterways, planting native species, caring for our plantings and removing invasives. 

No experience required, just a willingness to get your hands dirty and enjoy nature in the heart of the city. Their Garden Group meets twice a week.

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Heron and painted turtles in the Quarry Pond Water is central to the site. Evergreen Brick Works is adjacent to the lower Don River and within its watershed and floodplain. Mud Creek runs through the site and four ponds filter stormwater and provide habitat in the Don Valley Brick Works Park.

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Plan to Visit

Evergreen Brick Works is open year-round. Summer activities start in May, and in September 2010 they will celebrate the grand opening with a suite of new features.

View on Google Maps

Location

550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
Located between the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor/Danforth) and Pottery Road, just north of the Bayview exit from the Don Valley Parkway. Please note there is no access to Bayview from Bloor Street.
Bus. Bike. Walk.

Leave your cars and cares behind. They have limited parking until construction wraps up this summer.