MEC Outdoor Nation, Climbing Challenge & $50 Giveaway!

MEC Outdoor Nation arrived in Toronto this past weekend. 150 young adults camped out at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, experiencing two days in the great urban outdoors alongside good friends, meeting new ones, live music, outdoor activities and campfires and of course camping. I was really lucky to be invited by MEC to attend one of the outdoor activities on Saturday, the climbing challenge.  I also got a chance to chat with the Outdoor Nation organizers and find out more about what the weekend was all about.

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The goal of the weekend is simple. Celebrate a love for being outside while dreaming-up projects that can help other young people experience the outdoors in new ways. If you think about it as today’s young people (under 30) enter adulthood, their level of physical activity, let alone outdoor physical activity declines the fastest out of any other age group. As a 32 year old I can fully understand that. When I started working after University I was very focused on my career and didn’t really have the disposable income either to go adventuring outdoors as much as I am now or as I did as a kid attending summer camp. MEC started MEC Outdoor Nation in order to support a movement of young adults sharing their love of being active outside with other young adults so that we can install a new love for the outdoors peer to peer so they don’t have to wait until their older like me and realized they missed out on all this time they could’ve been adventuring outside.

During the weekend participants had a chance to tackle paddle-boarding, yoga, climbing, live music and camping under the stars. In addition, there were hands-on workshops, amazing speakers and time to plan project ideas designed to help get young people outside. MEC announced that they would be giving away $10,000 in grants to support MEC Outdoor Nation projects dreamed up over the weekend.

MEC Nation Yoga

MEC has been enabling Canadians to experience the outdoors since the 1970’s. However, the methods used to inspire young people to get outside have changed radically and it’s young adults driving this change, often incorporating technology in surprising ways. MEC is proud to support these novel projects. I really love this program that received funding from the 2014 Vancouver event.

Girls Gone Wilderness
This project aims to get more women outdoors in a fun, party-like environment. There’s no need to know where to go or what to bring when adventuring in the outdoors – Girls Gone Wilderness teaches these skills and more in a pressure-free setting. Their most recent event involved taking a bus from a favourite local brewery to the forest for a fun hike adventure. There was entertainment along the way, hidden treasures, al fresco disco balls and a ride back to the city.

I received the invite for the climbing challenge as MEC saw that I recently purchased gear from them for climbing on my social media channels. Good job MEC on trolling the interwebs for someone loving the outdoor life! It also happens that I have rock climbing (outdoor) on my 2015 Summer Bucket List so this was a perfect way to get me ready for my next bucket list challenge. The climbing challenge was held at the Outward Bound Challenge Tower at Evergreen Brickworks. It’s a climbing challenge that involves different climbing apparatus from tires, cargo nets and blocks.

I arrived Saturday mid-afternoon in the middle of a rainstorm. We were taught how to gear up which included a chest strap (this was a first for me). After proper safety lessons, we divided into 4 groups to climb 3 sides of the tower. We had either 4 or 5 people in each group. A climber, belayer, backup belayer and ropes manager. I don’t know how my team ended up with the hardest side of the tower but it was indeed a challenge that we eagerly tried.

Geared Up
Chest Strap

I put my hand up to climb first. Always the eager beaver. We had to tie a figure eight into the rope, to begin with. It’s usually already in the rope at the climbing gym so needless to say I looked to my team to help me out. I don’t have animated faces at all when confused (see below).

Figure What?

I’m not sure if it would’ve been easier to climb if it was dry and not pouring rain but I still did my best to attack our side. We had to climb 3 rings so the upper body was really key to pulling yourself up and flexible hips to throw legs up and over the wooden platforms.

Climbing

I was wondering why my shin and knee were freshly bruised when showering later that day and then found the picture proof on my phone.

After climbing the ring blocks my grip strength started to go. As you can see below, we had to use our hands to climb a rope and then reach for a rope ladder. Our feet were no longer on the top platform and the only place for them was on the beams on either side of us.

Tower Fun

As you can see from the photo I chose to do the splits 🙂 Fully aware the butt shot was going to be epic. Note to self wear black and not light grey pants when climbing 🙂 After I got onto the top of the next beam I stood up to continue up the rope ladder but my right hand decided to start tremoring (a symptom of my MS). I took a break at this point and shook out my hands but my right hand wasn’t having any of it and I wasn’t feeling too confident about being able to get any higher without my hand completely giving out on me. I asked my belay ladies to lower me back down. I refused to stop smiling though and I swear that’s the key to not getting frustrated. After a quick break as ropes manager for one climber, it was my turn to belay. I had an awesome anchor holding me just in case my climber fell. We had zero fun 🙂

Belay & Anchor

I had a long turn belaying as my climber was the only one on our team to actually make it to the top! She was so awesome. She and her boyfriend are opening a climbing gym so she’s got to be extra proud of her skills 🙂

Belay Team

I only got to share a small amount of time with a few of the Outdoor Nationers but the vibe was amazing. Everyone was so friendly and they looked so eager during the session after climbing to connect with like-minded individuals as they started to discuss their passion projects. I’m excited to find out about the programs that will receive funding. I hope they all had an amazing weekend in the rain and I hope their “campfire” and evening activities were just as much fun as the daily activities.

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MEC is so awesome and wants to inspire you my readers to get outdoors this summer. They are giving away a $50 gift card to help you accomplish a bucket list item outdoors this summer. If you need ideas on what you can do here is my Bucket List picture that’s from my previous post. Enter to win a $50 gift card below in the Rafflecopter widget by commenting on this blog post and telling me what is on your summer bucket list! Giveaway open to everyone in Canada!

Summer 2015 Bucket List

39 thoughts on “MEC Outdoor Nation, Climbing Challenge & $50 Giveaway!

  1. I just bought a road bike and my bucket list consists of training for and competing in a half ironman triathlon, and exploring as much of this beautiful province through my training runs, bikes, and hikes!

  2. I’m learning to rock climb at the indoor gym, so this summer I want to take it outdoors for the first time and go bouldering!

  3. I was a participant at the MEC Outdoor Nation event in Montreal and climbing was my first choice of activity. I train a lot and have good upper body strength so that helped but the challenge was to control the shakes, as I’m kinda afraid of heights… But it was great to get out of my comfort zone, which I don’t do often.

    btw I tried to participate in the $50 card contest but the system didn’t let me write in the box so I posted a blank comment by mistake… I don’t know why it didn’t work. Could it be my browser? I’m using Google Chrome…

    Thanks!
    Isabelle

  4. Hey Robyn! Thanks for mentioning us in your blog! We’re so lucky here in BC to find absolute wilderness steps away from the city, but urban camping seems so much fun too! Looks like you had a blast!

    There are so many things on our Girls Gone Wilderness bucket list…one of them being trying a SUP Fit class with our friend Nikki at Sea to Sky SUP, Yoga & Fitness…yes that’s right, a fitness class on a SUP board.

    It already feels like the summer won’t be long enough to do everything we want to do.

    Happy adventures everyone!

  5. This past weekend I participated in the Toronto MEC OutdoorNation. It was absolutely fantastic and I gained so much inspiration from all of the people I met there.

    I love to get away from the city and spend as much time as I can exploring Ontario’s wilderness. The top item on my summer bucket list is hiking the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park up in Northern Ontario!

  6. I want to do two hikes I have never done before, canoe on Lake Louise and do some more paddleboarding

  7. 5 day portage trip through algonquin park
    3 day trip to Esker Lakes provincial Park
    Try SUP for the first time
    4 day Bruce Hike (Near Cyprus)
    Finally successfully slide on my longboard
    Find a climbing buddy!

  8. My list includes getting out in nature more. Out on the water in a canoe or sail boat, swimming, walking with my dog, maybe some camping too. I’ve been battling a serious illness so I can’t dream big yet.

  9. Hi Sarah,
    You can always dream big. I was diagnosed with MS in December and my bucket list goal getting is keeping me sane 🙂 What are you going through.
    xoxo
    Robyn

  10. Great blog, thanks for sharing your adventure (through thick and thin!). :]

    My bucket list this summer includes biking to a Conservation Area for the first time (from Mississauga to Caledon) with friends, kayaking or canoeing in lake Ontario and biking the entire Waterfront Trail in Mississauga and Toronto! I hope to see lots of new areas natural, food-rich, urban and everything in-between with these goals, make a new friend or two and gain deeper appreciation for the environment in my own backyard~

    All the best to everyone else and their goals this summer! Here’s to connecting with the outdoors, as stewards, athletes and adventurers!

  11. My company Way Out There Advebtures would be totally keen to help you with your bucket list. Give us a shout about potentially some outdoor rock climbing?

  12. Hi Robyn,
    I’m healing from Lyme disease right now so, while I do have big dreams of travel and adventure, for my sanity I also have practical ones for this summer, since I’m mostly in bed at the moment 🙂 Those little dreams are the big ones right now, but you can bet that when I’m able, I’m pulling out that big dreams list! And it actually looks a lot like yours. 🙂
    Take care of yourself. Health is so precious xo

  13. Definitely looking for some adventure this summer. I have my eye on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney PP.

  14. I think Christine B, should win the gift card as she is inspiring others to step out or there comfort zone. She has organised a bungee jumping adventure for her alpha family, cause if you’re gonna do something on your bucket list then why not do it with a great support team.

    Amin.M

  15. The BIG item on my summer bucket list is a slightly different kind of adventure. Sine I’m always adventuring (climbing, biking, kayaking, hiking…) I figured that it would be nice to help others tick a few items off of their own bucket lists!

    So this summer I am working on providing my community with a modern climbing facility so that many, many people can push their limits, learn and discover! It’s a massive project that is only starting to get off the ground (pun intended), but will get there!

  16. I have a thirst for hiking, climbing and sup’ing. My bucket list this summer is: brandywine falls, raven lake hike, the chief, paddleboard on stories beach in port hardy, cape palmerston cabin hike & camp wherever/whenever we can. Thank you for this opportunity 🙂

  17. Bucket list includes a triathlon and a long biking event! Bought a road bike at MEC recently, the gift certificate would help me with some accessories!

  18. I love hiking and being outdoors so I plan and hope to hike the Lions Binkert trail, Galbardi lake and Black Tusk. As well as learning to climb outdoors.

  19. Great blog post! My summer bucket list includes hiking the Berg Lake trail, training for a half marathon, and trying out stand up paddle boarding.

  20. Hey Robyn,

    Thanks for joining mec nation this weekend! I also attended the Toronto weekend and was very inspired by all of the projects! Had such a great time!

    This summer I work on an organic farm 1 day/week near Sutton and I’d like to ride my bike there from Toronto. I’m also planning a women’s canoe trip in Temagami and would like to complete a 6 hour solo at some point during the journey.

    Cheers,
    Emma

  21. The main item on my bucket list is my first ever half-marathon! And because I’m too competitive for my own good (mostly against myself), I’m signed up for two. Island Girl Half in Sept and Scotiabank Waterfront Half in October. In between runs, my cross-training will include long bike rides (as well as biking the 5ish km from my apartment to work) every day – I’ve actually never taken my mountain bike for a ride in any actual mountains, so I plan on hitting up Kelso to give it a try. SUP-ing and hiking at the cottage are already part of my regular summer routine. Should be a great summer!

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