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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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!