It’s common knowledge that hanging around the outdoors, whether that be running bases on the baseball field or trekking in the backcountry — is nothing less than beneficial for you. There’s all that fresh air, exercise, a release from the stresses of everyday life — we could go on infinitum.
So now we have a new study that has scientists telling us there are additional pluses to participating in the wilderness-based activities, and these bennies can result in former sleepy heads who can’t seem to get up in the morning finding themselves leaping out of bed with a spring in their step and a song in their hearts.
According to a recent article in Current Biology, it appears that a large, consistent concentration of florescent lights in schools and the workplace, reading lamps at home, stadium floods and other artificial illumination sources, can really screw up your sleep pattern. And that doesn’t even account for the screen glow from computers, tablets and smartphones.
The study — albeit a small one — claims that an overabundance of artificial light at the wrong time can change sleep patterns and make us grumpy and sluggish in the mornings.
But a week in the wild, these scientists assert, synchronizes the body’s clock to become more attuned to the Sun and natural light sources, such as a candle or a campfire. In fact, sleep researchers maintain that by taking away artificial light, former night owls and other party animals who have a rough time hitting the deck in the morning, find themselves up and at ’em bright and early with more energy than ever before.
Kenneth P. Wright Jr., Ph.D., of the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, says the brain’s “clock” lets us know when it’s time to hit the rack. However, unlike an alarm clock, this so-called circadian clock can be affected by artificial light sources, keeping you awake later at night and making it more difficult to get up in the morning.
Wright says that (more…)
Earlier this month, 325 volunteers descended on Camp Waskowitz, a historic outdoor education center and former Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) camp located south of Seattle, Wash.
These volunteers — organized by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association — didn’t come empty handed. They carried ladders and saws and hammers and nails and paint buckets and brushes.
And in a matter of 10 hours, they completed 20 major projects at this 67-year-old complex — a task that would have taken the camp staff more than five years to accomplish on their own.
Roberta McFarland, the director of Camp Waskowitz, said she felt like the camp had won the lottery. She said the real estate association contacted her nine month ago and asked for a wish list of things that needed to be done. And she complied.
How’s this for a to-do list:
- Stain the cabins, council hall and lookout tower
- Relocate a large deck to the other side of the council hall
- Refurbish numerous benches and picnic tables
- Repair trails and install trail gates
- Install an ADA ramp to the nurse and staff building
- Construct a 150-square-foot greenhouse to grow tree seedlings
- Remove extensive, non-native, invasive plants
- Place 200 tons of crushed rock on walkways and parking lots
Built in 1935 as a temporary facility for the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corp, the original buildings at Camp Waskowitz are still heavily used today. It is a state and national historic preservation site and one of only two (more…)
To those of us who have worked in the outdoor education field for 20 years or more — or who know the history of our practice and its people — the name Mark Udall rings a familiar sounding bell. Most people nowadays know Mark Udall as the senior U.S. Senator from Colorado whose family’s role in politics, especially in the western part of the United States, spans over 100 years.
But upon closer inspection, it’s not very difficult to tell that Udall is one of us, or said different, that that he used to be one of us and not in some slightly insignificant way. That’s because right there on his Wikipedia entry, Mark Udall lists Outward Bound instructor as his primary job title. We don’t know about you but we think that’s pretty cool and refreshing to see, especially when almost 50% of the members of Congress list “lawyer” as their occupation.
Why point this out? Because Rock & Ice magazine recently ran a profile of Udall in which the 6-foot 5-inch uber legislator calls our attention to the significant role outdoor education can play in our lives. You see, Udall used to run the Colorado Outward Bound School — as in, he was its executive director during one of the organization’s largest growth spurts — and now he’s one of the most powerful and influential people in the United States.
Have a look at what Mark Udall has to say about what he’s learned along the way, and how his career in outdoor education has helped make him the person he is today: (more…)