Tuesday, September 27, 2016

100th Parys parkrun on Saturday

On Saturday, our Parys parkrun celebrates their 100th parkrun. It will be a festive affair and we hope to have over 100 parkrunners. We've only had over 100 runners four times since this parkrun began two years ago. parkrunners have been roped in to bake cupcakes, which we have no doubt the participants will enjoy.

I'm one of the Run Directors here (we are fortunate to have five of us sharing the weekly role) and I share with Event Director role with a friend, Karen.

Over the past year we've seen nice growth in the number of local participants and often have visitors from other parts of the country (and world!).

If you're keen for an outing on Saturday, come to our 100th parkrun. I'm Run Director for the day. And then hang around town to enjoy the monthly Saturday market, Hartelus, which is just down river from the parkrun start. There are awesome products in the stalls as well as good food, craft beer and picnic blankets under trees along the river bank. Just lovely!

As for my own parkrun tally... I'm struggling to reach 50 as I have volunteered more often this year that I have run! I should be nearing 40 parkruns soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bring on the female superheros

This is one of THE BEST TED talks that I have watched. It ties in with a post I wrote some years ago about how to talk to little girls.

In this TED talk, Christopher Bell, a media studies scholar, "addresses the alarming lack of female superheroes in the toys and products marketed to kids — and what it means for how we teach them about the world".

With an 11-year old girl in my life, and having just spent 9 days with 20 x 16 year old girls, this talk speaks to me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Journey experiences

What an incredible programme that my friend, and old AR teammate, Garry Townsend has put together! Garry has been in outdoor education for as long as I've known him (17 years) and this shows in his experience and how he has put this Journey (one of many of his programmes) together.

9 days and 8 nights
20 x Grade 10 girls (16 years old)
Over 60km of hiking
Carrying a loaded backpack
Three food drops
One 'solo' night - sleeping alone in the bush in your own self-made camp
An environmental activity
Kayaking in a two-person inflatable raft (water was too low so we spent the morning paddling on a large pool in the river and jumping off a cliff into a deep pool below)
No mobile phones and internet

For most of the girls in my group (one of three groups) it was their first time ever to hike and camp and carry a loaded backpack and to sleep alone in the bush - and to have no cell phones.

I was fortunate to have a super assistant facilitator, Shane, with me. We got along very well. About two or three days in the girls asked whether we knew each other before this trip. They were concerned about the "What if we didn't get along?". I explained that since we both like the outdoors and that either directly or through friends we had a connection to Garry, that there was little chance that we wouldn't get along.

I thoroughly enjoyed each night's debrief session as it was interesting to hear the girls' thoughts from the day and their experiences. During the hikes we got to chat here and there to the girls, getting to know them.

On the whole, we found the girls to be really sweet and kind to each other. Of course, there were a few odd issues, where a girl here and there thought they were going to die - from the heat, effort or blisters. Shane and I thought that the girls were often a bit too sweet and too sympathetic to each other... where milking of attention is awarded - for small issues. Nonetheless, it was good to see so much kindness.

The area - past Bronkhorstspruit - is lovely, albeit helluva dry. The Olifants and Wilge Rivers are incredibly low and the bush screams out for rain.

This was a rewarding experience for me to see these city girls adapt to this environment and come out of it smiling and richer for the experience. I felt very proud to see these girls discover just how strong (physically and mentally) and capable they are.

Very proud indeed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Going on a Journey with 16 year old girls

I'm off on an adventure on Thursday. It is an adventure that includes a group of 21 16-year old girls, who will be doing a multiday hike - with a spot of paddling and an abseil. A Journey. An adventurous, outdoor Journey. I'm along as the facilitator of the group.

A friend, and old teammate, is the organiser. He has been involved with school outdoor and adventure programmes for at least 16 years and he coordinates these multiday adventures for schools. I was delighted to be invited along to facilitate one of the three groups of Grade 10s.

We'll be in the Middleburg area, which is a region I do not know at all.

In his briefing, my friend mentioned how this Journey is very much life changing for many of the participants. It stands to reason when you look at the 'firsts' that these girls will encounter.

First time hiking.

First time camping.

First time preparing their own food and being, for the most part, self sufficient.

First time away from home, on their own, for a week.

First time eating, sleeping and spending a week with a group of girls from their grade at school.

This should be quite an experience for me too. While the girls carry their own kit, set up their own tent, navigate the hiking trail and make their own food, I'm on hand to make sure that they're safe, to deal with any issues, illness and the like and to guide a debrief and discussion each evening.

Yes, I'm very excited to be part of this and I hope to be a positive influence and to share a bit of my love of the outdoors and adventure with my group.

With that, my backpack is packed and I'll be offline for the next week and a bit. See you on the other side of this Journey.