Spring Cleaning - Love It or Hate It?

18 April 2019  It’s about that time of year when you think about going through your closet, looking through your clothes, and making the “piles” you know you’ll do something with later. You know the piles: keep, donate, trash.  Or maybe you don’t focus on the closet; you focus on the actual cleaning - the dusting, the wiping, the moving of the furniture that has now left imprints so deep in the rug that you’re not sure if it’s still rug or if it’s become the sub-floor at this point.  Let’s not forget the mental cleaning! It’s just as important as the rest. Give yourself a fresh headspace by cleaning out those negative thoughts that weigh you down, cloud your thinking, and prevent you from being the best version of yourself. Treat yourself to 45 minutes with a new book but leave yourself extra time just in case.  And then there are those of you who will do all of that AND take care of your learning spaces. For some, that means your classroom, a supply closet, or a challenge course. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when going through your outdoor equipment.  Fallen trees and limbs:  Do a walk-through of your challenge course, keeping an eye out for anything that might have come down over the blustery winter months. Soft gear:  Hopefully, you stored it in a sealed bin because otherwise, you might find some unwanted furry friends nesting in with your fleece balls or harnesses. Wooden platforms:  If you left them out, make sure that they’re still sound—no rot or soft spots. Tires:  We made an exciting discovery when our first climber (thankfully, an adult) climbed up our Vertical Playpen a week ago – a squirrel built a nest inside the hanging tire! Both the squirrel and the climber got quite a shock when they encountered each other. Consider replacing: Harnesses and helmets from 2008, haul cords (damaged during above-mentioned windy winter storms), and maybe not replace, but refresh your prop selection?  While spring cleaning isn’t at the top of everyone’s list of things they want to do, it feels so good once it’s done. Let’s just hope you don’t find a squirrel, too! 

Winter is coming!

29 November 2018 Chances are good that most of your courses are done for the winter and they won't see participants until the snow melts and the temperatures rise. If that's the case for you, our Challenge Course Manager, Mike Sallade, put together a few tips for you to consider when winterizing your course. While it may take time now, it'll save you time and money later.        Mike says to:Store soft gear in close topped bins.Exclude mice, moisture, dust and UV light from your ropes, harnesses, and helmets.Label the bins to make opening your course go smoothly in the spring.Keep your high element p-cords a little loose.Trees and pole wiggle a lot over the course of a winter, keeping those haul lines loose will reduce sawing actions on cable and tree bark, and save you from climbing to restring them in the spring.Not too loose! Too much travel can damage pulleys on traversing elements or allow p-cords to tangle around branches.Bring in anything that isn’t nailed down.Wooden platforms will last years longer if they don’t sit on the ground covered by snow.Meuse, Islands, and Zig Zag boards will warp less and last longer too.Low-hanging Hand lines, swings, rope ladders and the like can be an attractive nuisance. Weather also takes its toll on them.Make it easy on your inspectors.Make a list of things you want them to take an extra good look at.If you know your course will need minor repairs, let your vendor know when you are scheduling the inspection.Organize your gear: similar carabiners together, harnesses and helmets grouped by yearLubricate your locks.There is nothing worse than a lock that is frozen when the rest of the world has thawed.

Wildside Kit for the Win!

Austin Paulson weighed in about what his favorite props were to use with groups, and without a doubt, the Wildside Kit came in at number one. Inside or outside, lots of space or not much at all, it's not a surprise that our trainers turn to this prop for many of their programs. My go-to portable prop is the Wildside Kit. It is our most versatile, actively challenging, and easily modified tool that can bring to light a team’s learning outcomes. It can be briefed and physically set up in many configurations and can even be enhanced with other common gymnasium products like hanging ropes, adjacent climbing walls, and basketball hoops. Throw in a few more props like a crutch, rope, hula hoops, etc. and your imagination is the only limitation.My favorite publication/activity is Zoom and Re-Zoom. These picture books can be used in several ways simple and complex.  Many of my training, technical and team-oriented, focus on gaining perspective and knowing when to zoom in on a detail or out on the big picture. When training with complex technical systems or having challenging conversations with others, Zoom creates the perfect visual metaphor. I find that the activity, when done early in a training day, creates a common language that the group members refer back to consistently throughout the training. It's great to hear about what works best from the folks who are out there using the products. Their feedback can be useful when planning curriculum and budgeting for the year.

Back to School Shopping

Going back to school means new school supplies and activities to use that will engage your learners right from the start. We know that choosing the right activities and props can be difficult and often overwhelming, so we asked our experts to choose their favorites and explain why these items made the list. Camille Oosterman was quick with her list of must-haves before she heads out with a group. Her list includes rubber rings, Connectiles, and the Wild Side Kit, and here's why: Rubber rings - they are soft and friendly, just asking to be touched! They are great for activities like Group Juggle, Mass Pass, Sneak Attack, or as objects to retrieve along a Wild Side Kit or with Stepping Stones. And it’s a rainbow!!!Connectiles - great icebreaker or time filler! Really gets participants’ brains turning and working together. It’s also great that it comes with two sets of two different puzzles, so a large group can all work on part of it at the same time. Great way to start a conversation in a classroom about creating your own!Wild Side Kit - brings the adventure home! Lifts the level of risk, is visually appealing, so versatile and open to a variety of possibilities! I love that I can set it up differently depending on the level of challenge I want to pose to a group.  More trainer recommendations are coming, so stay tuned!

Friedreich’s Ataxia - Adventure Day

One of the many perks of what we do is that we have the privilege of interacting with some incredible people and their organizations. One of these people is Jean Walsh, and while she used to work with us here at Project Adventure for 15 years, she now has her or organization that aligns itself with a similar foundation of building healthy communities through the development of social and emotional learning skills. My organization, Spark Hope, seeks to build social-emotional health and community among people and their loved ones with rare diseases. Friedreich's Ataxia (FA) is a rare disease. There are about 5,000 people nationally with FA and about 15,000 worldwide. About 1 in 10 people or an estimated 25-30 million in the US have a rare disease (source). So, while each disease is uncommon, having a rare disease isn't. Spark Hope is working to help people understand and actualize that rare disease doesn't equal misery. People with rare diseases can and do thrive. I am just now refocusing on not just FA, but all rare diseases. I have seen what the FA Adventure Days do for the FA community and would love to bring Adventure Days and other programming to other rare diseases. We just finished our 7th year of FA Adventure Days. The patient organization that I volunteer for is the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) which is laser-focused on finding cures and treatments for FA. When I was diagnosed in 1981, I was 19, I was told no cure, no treatment, you will likely be dead by 35. They also said take some vitamin E, it might help. Now, thanks to FARA, there are a lot of treatments in the works. After working with Project Adventure, I saw how powerful their programs are at building connections and enabling people to do far more than they think they are capable of and I thought it could be a great experience for the people in my FA community in 2012. So, that's when we did our first FA Adventure Day. It was beyond amazing. We connected, deepened connections, accomplished things we thought we couldn't, and just had fun. I couldn't be more grateful to Project Adventure for letting us make this happen! One of our 4x participants wrote this about last year's day. She articulates the meaning of the day so well. We are so grateful for all the work we do with our community members and look forward to continuing it with more schools and organizations.

Project Adventure