Cold temperatures, grey skies and unpredictable weather are hallmarks of winter, and while the instinct might be to stay indoors, getting outside can offer a wide range of benefits for young people.
“Nature is an incredible environment for learning and self-discovery that helped me build a pathway towards success,” said TV’s Survivorman Les Stroud, an outdoor expert and Scouts Canada’s newly appointed Chief Scout. “Getting outside and experiencing adventure helps kids develop valuable skills to navigate many of life’s challenges. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”
To inspire families get outdoors year-round, Scouts Canada and Stroud are sharing four creative activities to embrace winter and learn some important skills along the way.
Younger kids can try building a tarp shelter using branches, a tarp and rope, while older youth can use materials foraged in nature. No one plans to get lost, but it happens all too often. Knowing how to build a shelter for protection from inclement weather can be lifesaving.
A game of lost and find me takes hide and seek to the next level and puts navigation skills to the test. Obtain (or make) a map of the neighbourhood and split into two teams. The team hiding should leave clues about their location that correspond to the map. The second team can then use a map and the clues to seek.
If you don’t have access to a space to safely cook outdoors, try a cooking challenge at home. Create a meal without using power or select five unusual ingredients that must be used to inspire creativity and problem-solving abilities that would serve them well during a power outage or emergency situation where food is in short supply.
Research shows that outdoor recreation is a fundamental need for children that not only supports physical development, but also contributes to positive self-esteem, mental health and cognitive functioning. Giving kids the freedom to explore and discover is an essential part of play that nurtures imagination and creativity and enables safe risk-taking to test abilities, problem solving and self-regulation skills.
To encourage kids and youth to discover their capabilities, foster resiliency and spend more time in nature, Scouts Canada is hosting a four-week outdoor winter skills challenge, called Claim the Flame, launching January 31.
Through weekly challenges, youth will engage in exciting activities designed to strengthen competencies in four key areas: sports and physical activity, building and creativity, culinary, and exploration. Scouts Canada will provide the framework for young people to explore their own ideas through resourcefulness, imagination and leadership.
“We know the pandemic has had a big impact on families and Scouts Canada is committed to supporting Canadian youth through accessible resources and fresh ideas for fun activities,” said Siobhan Ward, Youth Program Specialist at Scouts Canada. “We designed this challenge to help kids simply be kids, by offering adventure, socialization and something exciting to look forward to at a time when they need it the most.”
Canadian families who are not in Scouts can take part by accessing the weekly challenges at scouts.ca/claimtheflame and downloading the Scouter’s Guide, or viewing weekly videos released each Monday, beginning January 31. The program is designed to be flexible, allowing youth to participate as part of a Scout Group, with their families or individually at home, depending on current pandemic restrictions and individual level of comfort.
Remember to prioritize safety for all winter adventures and to Leave No Trace – ensuring nature is left untouched to protect and preserve it for generations to come.
Andrea McLoughlin, Centric PR