SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program receives national recognition!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sandpoint, Idaho — SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program receives national recognition.

Since 2013, Sandpoint-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE) has immersed over 1,700 local area youth in their local wild landscapes to explore and learn.  SOLE has quickly become a noteworthy regional resource through providing intentional and transformational experiential education programs for underserved youth in rural communities in north Idaho and beyond.

Recognition for SOLE’s contribution to rural communities throughout the Inland Northwest went to new heights this past winter during the 12th Annual Backcountry Film Festival where SOLE’s film SnowSchool: Exploring Our Winter Wildlands  was listed and shown as a finalist in this annual international film.  Highlighting SOLE’s novel approach to SnowSchool, the nation’s largest on-snow snow science and winter ecology program, showcased not only the attributes of this local nonprofit, and their interdisciplinary place-based experiential education program, but also the proven partnerships that support SOLE’s mission.  Noted partners include, the Winter Wildlands Alliance National SnowSchool Program, Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center (IPAC), Lake Pend Oreille School District, Coeur d’Alene School District, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Silver Mountain, Panhandle Alliance for Education, Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Equinox Foundation.

In May 2017, recognition for SOLE went a step further when Boise-based, Winter Wildlands Alliance acknowledged SOLE as a National Flagship SnowSchool Site.  Out of the 60 SnowSchool sites nationally, which serve over 32,000 youth annually, only two sites have received this noteworthy accolade.  Recognition was based on continued program development, staff development and training, as well as, SOLE’s novel place-based experiential education and project-based learning curricula.  

See SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience program in action in the film highlighted in the 2016-2017 Backcountry Film Festival in the link below:

https://vimeo.com/179256073

For more information on SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience view the link below:

http://soleexperiences.org/fieldwork-experiences/snowschool-experiences/

 

For more info:

Dennison Webb, MA
Founder | Executive Director
928.351.SOLE(7653) | dennison.webb@soleexperiences.org

Why is outdoor free play important for your child?

Since inception SOLE has facilitated programs which highlights outdoor free play for youth. From exploring a wetland with peers during our Stewardship Experience program, or just getting ‘down and dirty’  building a fort in our Junior Naturalist Experience summer programs, youth are constantly immersed in natural learning environments where they are able to freely explore their local wildlands while also learning about the natural systems which exist.  

When at SOLE outdoor free play provides the ideal ‘habitat’ to develop the whole child.

Even with our intentionally-designed curricula as the framework, youth are consistently provided unstructured outdoor play, or as it is commonly known free play, during most SOLE Experiences SM which starts in our programs for youth 4 years of age.  While our organization is an obvious proponent for purposeful experiential and outdoor education curricula, we also actively support personal and group exploration outdoors.  At SOLE, free play can be considered as moments where youth naturally engage with themselves and their peers without direct facilitation.  It is in these moments when youth really heighten their emotional, social, physical and mental well being.

Getting ‘down & dirty’ during a Junior Naturalist Experience at SOLE!

Free play is capable of developing the executive control center of our brains at an early age.  In fact, it’s been shown to have a negative impact on children’s brain development when they are removed from this critical learning environment.  As we dig into it bit further, we can naturally see how developing higher order skills like critical-thinking and problem solving can occur without direct facilitation from simple endeavors like building a fort with a friend. It’s not to say that a deeper level of comprehension of lesson objectives cannot be attained through effective facilitation – it can. However, there is still much to be said for those opportunities where individuals take ownership of their learning process and freely explore the moments, especially those in nature. And the benefits do not stop there.1

When exploring what’s ‘out there’ we engage our physical self into wild landscapes.

Free play promotes physical well-being. Current research shows the decline in outdoor and physical activity for youth, including free play opportunities. There is also a growing body of evidence, which shows the correlation between the decrease in physical outdoor activity and childhood obesity. Also, there are current studies that show that children are most physically active when provided these very opportunities.2

Another benefit is supporting positive attention. In fact, when children are provided the opportunity to immerse themselves in outdoor free play, they are often more attentive and respectful when re-entering a more structure learning setting.

Also, free play provides the opportunity for actual social engagement and character development. Establishing and maintaining friendships is a tremendous outcome of free play. By providing opportunity for children to freely engage their peers is naturally how we learn to relate – an essential life skill.  Children are also learning from their failures, and mistakes allowing them to develop the 7 C’s of Resilience a cornerstone of most SOLE programs.  These essential life skills have also been directly linked to future positive outcomes, including academic achievement. 3

It’s kind of hard to NOT have a good time, when you’re getting ‘down and dirty’ with your friends!

Lastly, is the shift in affect, which is achieved through free play. Children who experience free play are naturally happy.  And isn’t that how children should be?  They are doing what they want, how they want.  Hey, don’t get me wrong I am NOT saying that we should hold boundaries and set-limits with youth, however, there is often space for them to explore that which is inherently valuable – their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Whether it’s genuine happiness, or cognitive development, the importance of outdoor free play is undeniable.   SOLE will continue to provide opportunities for children to engage in this manner. With an increase in actual “screen time” the importance of providing these opportunities is paramount. If not now, when?  And what will the outcome be if we do not provide these opportunities?

Youth can engage in this manner in summer and school programs, including those listed below.  All summer programs are currently open for registration and enrolling strong.  For more information and/or to register for upcoming SOLE Experiences simply click on one of the programs below or go to our registration form to begin your process.  Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions or needs!

june

27may - 11junmay 279:00 amjun 11Journey Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Male-Specific(may 27) 9:00 am - (june 11) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

12jun - 16jun 129:00 amjun 16Leader of the Day Experience (LOD) | LPOSD SPEDNorth Idaho Service Learning9:00 am - 5:00 pm (16) TBD

19jun - 23jun 199:00 amjun 23Junior Naturalist Experience | Open ProgramNature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session I9:00 am - 3:00 pm (23) Idaho

25jun - 1juljun 259:00 amjul 1- 5:00 pmLEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Male-Specific9:00 am - (july 1) 5:00 pm PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

july

25jun - 1juljun 259:00 amjul 1- 5:00 pmLEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Male-Specific(june 25) 9:00 am - (july 1) 5:00 pm PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

10jul - 16jul 109:00 amjul 16LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Empowerment Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Female-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (16) PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

10jul - 14jul 109:00 amjul 14Junior Naturalist Experience | Open ProgramNature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session II9:00 am - 3:00 pm (14) Idaho

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

31jul - 4augjul 319:00 amaug 4Junior Naturalist Experience | CLOSED FULL (excepting wait list)Nature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session III9:00 am - (august 4) 3:00 pm Idaho

august

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific(july 17) 9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific(july 17) 9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

31jul - 4augjul 319:00 amaug 4Junior Naturalist Experience | CLOSED FULL (excepting wait list)Nature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session III(july 31) 9:00 am - (august 4) 3:00 pm Idaho

6aug - 12aug 69:00 amaug 12LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Priest Lake Canoeing | Male-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (12) PST Priest Lake, Idaho

6aug - 12aug 69:00 amaug 12LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Priest Lake Canoeing | Female-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (12) PST Priest Lake, Idaho

september

No Events

october

No Events

november

No Events

See you out there,DennisonTeaching
Dennison Webb, M.A.
Founder | Executive Director

1 http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336361277/scientists-say-childs-play-helps-build-a-better-brain

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/485902

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/15/how-free-play-can-define-kids-success/

Why enroll your child in a summer program with SOLE!

A recent study showed that youth are now spending (9) non-school related hours per day, that’s (63) hours per week connected to a media device1! Add school projects and homework and we are developing a concerning phenomena.   ReWild your child in SOLE’s Junior Naturalist Experience program, or let your teen go on an outdoor adventure of a lifetime in SOLE’s Teen Trek Experience program this summer!  Why? Well let’s take a closer look.

Thanks to brain mapping, we now have evidence that youth and adolescent brains are actually quite sensitive and malleable to external stimuli.  In fact, the adolescent brain has the opportunity to establish essential memory pathways during those years of development, like those related to what are considered executive functions (e.g., higher order processing skills).

Photo credit: Ucla.edu3

During this time, the brain also has the ability to get rid of unnecessary neurons through a process known as neural pruning, which is actually quite similar to getting rid of unproductive limbs on a fruit tee.  As neuroscientist Donald Hebb said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”2  So, in short, if you don’t use it, you loose it. Because youth are spending an extraordinary amount of time “wired in” to media sources (like social media) they are essentially hard-wiring their brain to function in this fashion, and as a result, expect to receive and process information accordingly.  So you might so so what’s the big deal?

Well, simply put the ‘virtual’ cognitive processes aren’t always applicable in ‘real world’ contexts.  For example, navigating real world problems often requires intellectual flexibility, patience, resilience, and emotional regulation.  When our brains are rewarded in a simple and quick fashion ala ‘how many likes we have’ it presents a false sense of reality – that our end goal is quick and succinct.  This is obviously far from the norm.  Additionally, consider the social deficits that we reinforce as someone continually ‘looks down’ to communicate and relate.  Research is now showing increases in social anxiety, poor communication skills, emotional dysregulation, inattentiveness, and other mental, physical and behavioral health issues all due to being ‘disconnected’ through technology3.  Let’s shift to a cause and effect relationship.

If an animal is constantly fed by humans it becomes habituated – relying on those food sources to sustain their existence.  When released into the wild, they can’t function because they have been conditioned to live a certain way.   The human brain is not much different.  When utilizing technology in an unhealthy fashion, our brain becomes habituated – a creature of habit – expecting to give and receive information a certain way.

Pediatricians, neuroscientists, and youth development experts agree that our youth require diverse and intentional experiences ‘unplugged’ to help them grow into healthy adults.  SOLE’s transformational experiential education programs provides the essential ingredients to explore, achieve, and lead throughout the year.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 Reasons to immerse your child in a natural learning environment with SOLE this summer:

  1. Unplug to reconnect!  Providing an opportunity for your child to take a break from the TV, their smart phone, iPad, and social media accounts allows them to rediscover their creative powers through their natural senses.  This allows them to connect to the real world, with real people, through real activities, and therefore, forge real thoughts and emotions, as well as develop real relationships with others and their environment.
  2. Reconnect with our natural world!  Nature Deficit Disorder is a real condition, which has real consequences.  Summer outdoor experience provides the ideal setting to address nature deficit, and therefore, support  healthy child development.
  3. Develop executive functions!  Can you imagine going on a road trip without a map? Executive functions provide the essential ingredients to plan, organize, problem-solve, and cope when faced with challenges along the way.  SOLE’s summer programs provide the ideal setting for youth to develop these and other executive controls.
  4. Get physically active! As shown in the intro above, youth spend a significant amount of time today just sitting inside, sedentary, and wired-in.  Doing so has a negative impact on personal well-being.  After all, humans were not designed to be sedentary beings.  Through SOLE’s summer programs, and accompanying experiential curricula youth are provided the ideal setting to be physical activity through continuous experiential games and/or activities from start to finish in a fun and engaging fashion allowing the ideal setting to address this deficiency in a novel manner.
  5. Competence yields confidence! SOLE intentionally designs experiential/outdoor education curricula that allows program participants to develop and master outdoor and academic skills while simultaneously building self-confidence and self-esteem through active coaching and a peer-based culture grounded on a safe and positive learning environment.  This provides the ideal setting to take a risk, learn from your failures, and master skills.
  6. Become flexible and resilient! The reality in the ‘real world’ is that it doesn’t always go as we expect it to.  Being successful in life requires that we execute flexibility to adapt to the various stressors that life presents us.  Additionally, it is important that youth develop resilience.  Life chews us up and spits us out sometimes.  The more resilience that we are able to develop in our younger years, the better we are able to endure challenging setbacks.  SOLE’s summer programs provide a healthy dose of challenges that require youth develop these essential skills.
  7. Free time & unstructured play! Picture this.  You hike all day and arrive at a beautiful alpine lake, surrounding by mountains.  Untouched beauty.  In addition, to the other benefits of SOLE’s summer program offerings.  Our programs provide a natural setting to relax, laugh, and make long lasting friendships.  Free time & unstructured play also provide the opportunity for youth to tap into their creative and problem-solving skills which is why we intentionally place this time into our our summer programs, including our Junior Naturalist Experience programs.
  8. Develop meaningful relationships! SOLE’s summer programs provide the ideal setting to develop meaningful relationships with newly found friends, your surrounding natural world, even with yourself.  Our programs provide real world shared experiences without distraction fostering the opportunity to develop sincere and meaningful connections.
  9. Develop essential life skills!  During our programs we often share with our participants — it’s what happens AFTER the SOLE Experience that counts.  In other words, the skills that are mastered and the lessons learned are applicable well-beyond ‘out there’ and can be transferred and generalized into a ‘real world’ setting.  To do so,
  10. Grow independence! – SOLE’s summer programs provide the ideal setting for youth to make their own decisions without parents and teachers in the mix.  Making choices where there is a direct cause and effect relationship can foster independence and related benefits.  SOLE Field Instructors facilitate experiential programs that provide these and other ‘teachable moments’ for program participants.

Oh yeah, it’s good ‘ole fashion fun!

SOLE’s summer programs are uniquely positioned to foster healthy youth development.  SOLE’s summer programs are also the perfect partner for schools, families, youth groups, organizations, agencies, or community centers provide holistic education that yields an increase in personal self confidence and independence, problem-solving and decision-making skills, social and emotional skills, personal and character development – all in positive learning environment under the supervision of positive adult role models with formal experience and education.

So we hope your family will join us this summer as we venture out there!

 

Ready to get started?  Click on one of the SOLE Experiences SM below!

june

27may - 11junmay 279:00 amjun 11Journey Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Male-Specific(may 27) 9:00 am - (june 11) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

12jun - 16jun 129:00 amjun 16Leader of the Day Experience (LOD) | LPOSD SPEDNorth Idaho Service Learning9:00 am - 5:00 pm (16) TBD

19jun - 23jun 199:00 amjun 23Junior Naturalist Experience | Open ProgramNature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session I9:00 am - 3:00 pm (23) Idaho

25jun - 1juljun 259:00 amjul 1- 5:00 pmLEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Male-Specific9:00 am - (july 1) 5:00 pm PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

july

25jun - 1juljun 259:00 amjul 1- 5:00 pmLEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Male-Specific(june 25) 9:00 am - (july 1) 5:00 pm PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

10jul - 16jul 109:00 amjul 16LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Empowerment Expedition | Cabinet Mountains Backpacking | Female-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (16) PST Cabinet Mountains, Montana

10jul - 14jul 109:00 amjul 14Junior Naturalist Experience | Open ProgramNature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session II9:00 am - 3:00 pm (14) Idaho

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

31jul - 4augjul 319:00 amaug 4Junior Naturalist Experience | CLOSED FULL (excepting wait list)Nature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session III9:00 am - (august 4) 3:00 pm Idaho

august

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific(july 17) 9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

17jul - 1augjul 179:00 amaug 1- 5:00 pmJourney Experience | Open ProgramMontana Backpacking Expedition | Female-Specific(july 17) 9:00 am - (august 1) 5:00 pm Cabinet Mountains

31jul - 4augjul 319:00 amaug 4Junior Naturalist Experience | CLOSED FULL (excepting wait list)Nature Detectives | Nature Explorers: Session III(july 31) 9:00 am - (august 4) 3:00 pm Idaho

6aug - 12aug 69:00 amaug 12LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Priest Lake Canoeing | Male-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (12) PST Priest Lake, Idaho

6aug - 12aug 69:00 amaug 12LEAD Experience | Open ProgramTeen Trek Experience | Exploratory Expedition | Priest Lake Canoeing | Female-Specific9:00 am - 5:00 pm (12) PST Priest Lake, Idaho

september

No Events

october

No Events

november

No Events

Dennison Webb, MA
Founder | Executive Director

 

 

Kersting, T. Disconnected: How to reconnect our digitally distracted kids.

https://ottawamindfulnessclinic.com/2010/05/06/neural-pruning/

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-teenage-brain-on-social-media

Be Bear Aware

Fall is a beautiful time to explore our local wildlands and feasting time for us all, including our local bears.  As such, it’s imperative that we take Bear Aware principles with us into as we journey into the backcountry to bike, hike, paddle, camp, hunt or fish.

This past weekend marked another grizzly attack this fall, once again in Montana (see video here – caution graphic material).  This occurred just on the heels of two other additional grizzly attacks of hunters in the same state back in September.  What was once a rarity (to see a grizzly in the wild, western backcountry) is becoming more prevalent due to the success in conservation of the species, and the habitat that it calls home.   In addition, black bears can also be troublesome and often more unpredictable, and can lead to unwanted encounters.  What ever the species, it is imperative that when we venture into the wild, we must remain vigilant and be bear aware.  

With winter fast approaching, bears are quite active in the fall storing reserves for their upcoming hibernation.  Folks often aren’t sure how to minimize their contact with a bear when exploring our wild landscapes.  So, to assist with this, we will share some Leave No Trace Outdoor Skills and Ethics  that we utilize (and teach) in the field, which are supported by our partners at The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.  We hope this information will help you minimize and mitigate this risk, and allow you to enjoy the remaining days of fall in the backcountry.  So let’s get started!

 Plan Ahead and Prepare:

As the first, of 7 Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles, Plan Ahead and Prepare often serves as the foundation.  It is a really good idea to spend some time and review the specific wildlife regulations for the area that you will be visiting, and even calling the land management agency of where you will be visiting.  Some questions to consider when doing so:

  • Do you require bear canisters and/or require that you store your food and other “smellables” in a particular manner?
  • Has there been any recent bear activity in the area that you will be visiting?

The old adage, a fed bear, is a dead bear” is true.  When we travel in the backcountry it is essential to minimize bears encounters, and their contact with human food.  Once bears have been introduced with human food they will continually seek it out as an easier food source, leading to continued encounters.  This is called habituation. On most occasions, this leads to a bear being “taken down” (e.g., killed).  This also includes selecting appropriate campsites, disposing of waste properly, considering appropriate food / smellable storage, and overall respecting wildlife.

Choosing an Appropriate Campsite:

BearmudaTriangle_0.jpgA good consideration is to local open space areas to camp versus those that are densely vegetated to allow for more awareness for both you and the bear of each other’s presence.  In addition, you may consider the “bear”muda triangle (see image to the right), which positions your cooking, shelter, and food storage area 100 yards from each other.

Dispose of Waste Properly & Appropriate Food / Smellable Storage:

bearhangAnother important LNT Principle is Dispose of Waste Properly.  This can effect whether or not we lure in one of our furry friends, and can be counter productive.  For example, while broadcasting grey-water may be a common practice when considering this principle, it can also spread the odor when doing so on land.  Not ideal in grizzly country.  Therefore, other considerations can include digging a sump (6-8″ deep) to dispose of grey-water from cooking, cleaning and brushing teeth. Read more from our partners at Leave No Trace here.

When considering storing food and “smellable” items (i.e., sunscreen, toothpaste, deodorant, lotions, chapstick, etc.) some land management agencies in bear country allow backcountry users to utilize bear hangs (see image left) in lieu of bear canisters.

If you do decide to go old school, and “hang a bear bag”, there are definitely some considerations to take.  You’ll need to consider an appropriate set-up, including specific location, appropriate distance (e.g., minimum of 5′ x 5′ x 12′), durable “bear bags”, rope, and some know how.  Review some additional tips from The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics here and check out the image above to help get you started.  In addition, if you choose the bear hang method, make sure that the area that you are visiting actually has trees!  Alpine areas like those with tundra where bears can frequent do not, so you’ll need to make adjustments to your bear storage considerations.

If the terrain you will be traveling in is not advantageous to a bear hang and/or the land management agency does not allow bear hangs in their food storage allowances, you will have to either purchase or rent a bear canister.  There are several great models, and if you don’t want to purchase one and won’t use it frequently you can actually rent them for a nominal fee from a land management agency or gear shop.  After all, they are kind of spendy!  If you decide to go this route and are venturing into the our neck of the woods, in the Selkirks, Purcells, or Cabinets feel free to contact us to rent one directly from us!

Respect Wildlife:

As one of the 7 principles of Leave No Trace, and an awareness of what exists out there, one might think it should go without saying – Respect Wildlife.  Still it’s worth noting.  Here are some tips to assist you in doing just that.

  1. When traveling in bear country make noise!  Yelling, “Hey Bear!” is the go-to, but should be done on average of once every 5 – 10 seconds.  Some people recommend every 30, however, you can carry a lot of ground in 30 seconds and your voice doesn’t carry too far in dense vegetation or near a noisy mountain creek.  In addition, when entering dense vegetation, around blind corners, and near loud creeks we recommend to also add some clapping to really let you presence be known.  One of the main contributing factors to unwanted bear encounters is alarming a bear, and catching them off guard.  Not a great scenario, especially when it’s a healthy sow with cubs.  While we all love to have those pristine, peaceful moments in the wild, it’s important that when traveling in bear country to also minimize encounters for their sake and yours.
  2. Travel in groups of 4 or more.  It has statistically been shown that hiking in groups of four or more is safer while traveling in griz country, however one could argue that it may be a wise practice in any type of bear country.
  3. View at a distance.  Bears can cover a large distance in a short amount of time.  While they are amazing to view in the wild, putting real estate between you and a big ‘ole bruin is a good thing, so use binoculars at a distance.  To give you some perspective, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service a grizzly can cover 50 yards in 3 seconds, or 40 miles and hour.  That’s faster than a race horse over shot distances!  Learn more bear encounter facts from the Fish and Wildlife Service  here.
  4. Effective use of bear spray to deter an encounter!  Bear spray has proven itself to be quite effective, and often a last resort.  However, it is only as effective as the actual user.  We recommend that you research what type of bear spray to purchase, and educate yourself on how to use it.  Here is a great little introductory video from Rick Landers of the Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) on how to use bear spray effectively, and here is a great powerpoint from the United States Geological Survey on bear spray.

Blog support from our partners at The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: http://www.lnt.org

For more information and to become more backcountry savvy, consider taking one of SOLE’s Leave No Trace Courses, or design your own!  These courses allow participants to learn and master these skills in the environment that they will be traveling in.

See you out there,DennisonTeaching
Dennison Webb, M.A.
Founder | Executive Director

Are you in the know?

Nowadays, it’s easy to get lost in translation as technology grows by leaps and bounds, even daily it seems.  As a grassroots nonprofit, grounded on a sustainable and forward-thinking vision and mission technology provides the ideal platform to share upcoming events, important updates and other specifics related to who we are, what we do, and how we do it.  As such, it is our aim to keep you up to speed on how to actually stay informed and up to date with all things related to SOLE!  Social media platforms like Facebook continue to evolve, and while we are sure their intention is to maximize efficiency and streamline their process for some (including us mind you) it becomes cumbersome!  In fact, us recently we have become aware that SOLE’s Facebook Feed has been dropping out for some of our followers.  So we’ve done some digging, and we have found a solution which will allow YOU to stay in the know!

First, you need to go to SOLE on Facebook.  There you can follow the simple steps below to ensure that SOLE shows up consistently in your Facebook Feed.  Again, go to the SOLE Facebook page which can also be found at the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/SOLEExperiences/ to begin the process.

Are you there?  Great!  You can now complete the simple (3) step process, which is shown in the following image and described in detail below.  This will allow you to stay up to date, and in the know!

How to follow SOLE on FB

  1. “Step 1” (yellow circle in screenshot image) in the process is to click on the RSS Feed button.
  2. “Step 2” (orange rectangle in screenshot image) in the process scroll down and under “In Your News Feed” select “See First”.
  3. “Step 3” (red rectangle in screenshot image) in the process scroll down and under “Notifications” select “On (Events)”.

There you are all done!  Now you will receive up to date info from our News Feed, including upcoming events, programs, online lessons, and all good things related SOLE!

SOLE receives generous support for our SnowSchool Experience program!

Since it’s inception in 2014, SOLE’s SnowSchool Experience SM program has become a cornerstone of our organization’s experiential education program offerings serving over 800 youth over the past (3) years.  While SOLE strives to custom-tailor all SOLE Experiences SM for individual participants, schools, and other stakeholders we serve, this program primarily serves 5th – 12th grade local area public and private schools.  Each season program participants are able to experience a rich interdisciplinary curricula which includes lessons related to  SOLE’s 4 Cares SM, snow science, winter ecology, avalanche awareness, and winter outdoor living and travel skills.  SOLE aligns SnowSchool Experience SM curriculum to state standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core to ensure that goals, objectives, and learning targets are met.  Coupled with novel organizational philosophies, evidence-based best practices, and pedagogies related to experiential education to include outdoor education, place-based education, and project-based learning – students come to SOLE each winter to be immersed in a natural learning learning environment where they can truly explore, achieve, and lead!

A noteworthy and consistent goal of our organization is to provide affordable access to the transformational experiential education programs we offer, including our SnowSchool Experiences SM.  As such, SOLE staff and board works diligently constructing grants, soliciting sponsorship, and fundraising during our Annual Backcountry Film Festival events held each fall.  And the hard work is continuing to pay off.  Over the past few months we have had the great fortune to receive two grant awards from local foundations to support our SnowSchool Experience SM program, allowing us to ‘reach and teach’ into 2017!

PAFELogo-250x49

Earlier this summer, SOLE received notice that we would be awarded a $7,000 grant award from the Panhandle Alliance for Education (PAFE) to support our 5th grade SnowSchool Experience program with Lake Pend Oreille School District.  This noteworthy support will provide access to a (3) day experience for over 300 5th students in Lake Pend Oreille School District.  Students experience a pre-lesson in the classroom where they are oriented to what to expect “in the field”, introductory experiential lessons related to watershed geology, hydrology, and geography; mountain snowpack as it relates to a community natural resource including an orientation to the ever important concept known as Snow Water Equivalency (SWE).  Once in the field students deepen their learning comprehension as they experientially learn the finer points of snowshoeing, winter ecology, and snow science.  This full day portion of the program includes experiential lessons on introductory outdoor living and travel skills, winter ecology, and snow science.  The later includes the completion of a thorough snowpit profile where students collect data and assess the snowpack to include, hardness, snow crystallography, temperature, and SWE.  Once back in the classroom students synthesize the data they collected and compare and contrast their findings to local historical SWE trends to draw conclusions related to their communities’ water resource needs.  This includes completion of a line graph detailing their findings.  As one might imagine, this program provides a novel gateway to address academic standards related to math, science, and other core subject, as well as those related to physical education, leadership, and character development.

inlandnorthwestcommunityfoundation  EquinoxLogo

 

 

More recently, SOLE was also awarded a $10,000 grant from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Equinox Foundation Grant Program for our SnowSchool Experience SM program expansion. This support will continue our work within Bonner County schools to include providing custom-tailored SnowSchool Experiences SM for schools like Clark Fork Junior / Senior High School, as well as expand offerings into the Boundary County School District.  Areas of focus will include those aspects previously mentioned, as well as providing opportunities to teach snow science related to avalanche awareness, and outdoor living and travel skills for the youth of Bonner and Boundary County.

We are truly grateful for the continued support that these three organizations have shown towards our SnowSchool Experience SM program, and SOLE at large.  Because of this support, will be able to further our mission and students will be afforded access to the transformational experiential education programming that our SnowSchool Experience SM program offers.  Additionally, we are also grateful for the continued support that Schweitzer Mountain Resort, the Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center , and the Winter Wildlands Alliance has shown to underpin our work in the field.

Still the work continues, as the grants awarded will only partially support our SnowSchool Experience SM program as it is currently established.  In addition, we have a greater vision which includes the establishment of yurts at our SnowSchool Experience SM Field Campuses, including Schweitzer Mountain Resort so our programs have access to a classroom space in times of severe inclement weather, and so these programming opportunities are available for future local area youth in our region.  You can do you part by attending and participating in our Annual Backcountry Film Festival, becoming a program or event sponsor, or by making a tax deductible in-kind or financial contribution by clicking here or simply contact us.

For those seeking further evidence of the benefits please take time to look at our SnowSchool Experience SM videos, and review some of the numbers, comments, and student story below:

Elementary SnowSchool Experience SM program video:

Middle & HighSchool SnowSchool Experience SM program video:

Some relevant numbers:

  • Between 60-97% of the students that attend our local public schools qualify for a free-reduced lunch (at or below the poverty level).
  • Over 80% of the students rated their SnowSchool Experience as 4 or 5 (on a 1-5 Likert-type Scale)
  • Over 70% of students acknowledged snowshoeing and exploring their local mountain ecosystem for the first time.
  • Over 80% of students demonstrated a greater understanding of the importance of mountain snowpack as it relates to our communities water resource needs.

Some of the many positive comments.

  • “I really liked learning about different trees.”
  • “Best trip Ever!”
  • “I hope that they will never stop SnowSchool! Fun and education!!”
  • “I learned so many new things at SnowSchool,such as: snow-shoeing.”
  • “I had fun because I got to do science I might not get to do anymore unless I become a hydrologist.”
  • “I would like to share that I would go again if I had a chance.”
  • “The most awesome field trip I have ever gone on!” 

A student’s story:

SnowSchoolStory1

Personally, when I reflect on our organization’s accomplishments with this program and view the view the pieces above I recognize the significant benefits that this transformational experiential education program offers our local area youth including the ability to make sound academic connections in a novel manner, as well as the opportunity to be immersed in a natural learning environment to further develop a relationship within themselves, with their peers, with their environment, and with their community.

See you out there,DennisonTeaching
Dennison Webb, M.A.
Founder | Executive Director

Exploring SOLE’s Junior Naturalist program…

SOLE’s Junior Naturalist Experience SM program offers a rich environment for developing a love of and stewardship for nature, strengthening self-esteem and confidence, and building leadership and outdoor skills.  Centered on a healthy balance of unstructured free-play and experiential place-based education, children are able to develop cognitive and social skills while also experiencing a rich interdisciplinary curricula that allows children to become immersed in the magic of their community’s natural resources.

Children walk away with a profound reverence for nature and exploration that they can carry into their future.  The skills they learn in the Junior Naturalist Experience SM program will help them solve real-world problems, become a stronger team member, strengthen themselves physically and mentally, and share compassion for all things living.

We have noticed that families that have offered their children this experience has enriched the whole family.  From scientific findings to lessons integrated in folklore and silly games – children bring home the fun and transferable lessons from their Junior Naturalist Experience SM.

My participation in instructing SOLE Junior Naturalist Experiences SM this summer has been one of great joy.  Sharing my passion for nature is something I have studied for and dreamed of.  After leading many different camps for various organizations, I find that SOLE offers the liberty to build a unique and creative curriculum with the flexibility to follow the children’s interests and other learning opportunities that inherently arise.

See you out there,
Hallie Reikowsky
Field Instructor

Click the following link to learn more about our Junior Naturalist Experience SM program.  Click the following link to learn more about Hallie or other SOLE Field Instructors.

A fresh perspective from the field…

Ever since I started working with SOLE I have learned so much about others, as well as myself.  My first experience with SOLE was in 2014 when I was enrolled as a student on a SOLE GAP Experience SM with Lake City High School in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.  This snow-based experiential education program provided exposure to the basics of snow science for myself and 10 other peers.  We learned the importance of Snow Water Equivalency (SWE), how to measure it within the snowpack, and how it (and other factors) effect the stability of the snow-pack.  Most notably, I learned that I was a very influential leader.  Another part of the program that has truly stuck with me from then on is how leadership styles and roles can vary and adjust to the given situation.  Examples include using a more direct leadership style when something needs to get done right away or to delegate to provide more group-related ownership and provide additional leadership opportunities for my peers.

Some time after this experience I was offered an opportunity to develop my skills as a Field Instructor for SOLE.  During the summer of 2015 this process began during a SOLE Journey Experience SM when I accepted the offer and packed my backpack for a 16 day trip into the Cabinet Mountains of Montana.  During this SOLE Experience SM  the other Field Instructor and I helped a 15 year old boy with finding his true self as well as learning outdoor skills. For a student it may be hard to see how setting up camp every day relates to the real world.  It is simple from an instructor’s point of view. It shows determination, organization, time management, repetition, and that it is okay to ask for help! But what I took away from that trip is appreciation. Appreciation has taught me that I grew up a very lucky child to have such a strong family. Since my trip I have not let that mindset slip away from me.

In the Summer of 2016 I was on another 16 day Journey Experience, this time with a 19 year old as the student. This trip was designed to assist this individual with Executive Functioning skills.  The 19 year young man, was able to accomplish amazing feats that even he thought he could never do due to his defined diagnosis and self-limiting beliefs.  As a Field Instructor I grew immensely as I gained the knowledge and power to view things in a new perspective.  Instead of seeing a student struggle and enabling them to complete a task and providing instant gratification, I made the conscious choice to allow them to problem solve for themselves, and use the learning strategies that we had been working with him to develop.  This approach allowed the student to feel much more accomplished in the end, and have a better understanding of how to approach a challenging situation in the future.

As a Field Instructor for SOLE, I love my job and enjoy seeing the growth-oriented outcomes of the participants I get to work with in the end. It is a job where I can wake up every day excited to help others help themselves, and then develop the essential leadership skills to help others.

“You know how to understand, but you need to understand how to know.”- Cody Jahns

See you out there,
Cody Jahns
Field Instructor

5 ways how a summer SOLE Experience can strengthen your child.

Quest Pictures 129-1

From backpacking adventures into the wilds to walks into an urban park, summer provides the opportune time to unplug and reconnect to the great outdoors.  With an uptick in standardized testing, homework, or other school / after-school responsibilities during the regular school year there is little time for most families to venture out to the great unknown, and many simple do not for one reason or another.  Despite these real barriers a growing body of evidence is showing us why immersion in the outdoors is critical for our own well-being, as well as, our community and its environment.  So what can you do about it?  At SOLE, we recommend that parents strongly consider extra-curricular programming that specifically targets this need, especially when school isn’t ‘in session’.

5 ways your child can benefit from a SOLE Experience SM this summer!

  1. Nurturing their brain through nature.  Let’s face it, there is no better way to decompress than being in a beautiful natural setting.   SOLE uses extended summer expeditions to promote such opportunities for youth and young adults.  This way of life can be rather simplistic fostering an environment that lacks the stress that weighs on our 3 pound computer in the semi-quasi real world.  The end result?  Rest and restoration.  National Geographic. ‘This is Your Brain on Nature’ (January 2016) gives props to this very cause and effect relationship, coupled with the term, coined by a cognitive psychologist David Strayer, known as the  “three day effect”. In short, Mr. Strayer spent a great deal of time researching the restorative effects of nature-based immersion on one of our most important resources – our brain.
  2. Creating healthy behaviors and patterns.  Remember the days of building forts, exploring and learning about our natural world, chasing each other and playing games like ‘capture the flag’?  SOLE’s summer programs, such as our Junior Naturalist Experiences SM captures the innocence of our youth, and for good reason.  With an increase in screen time (on average 7.5 hours per day connected to some sort of media device) our youth are more removed from outdoor play.  Let’s face it, technology is a blessing and a curse. Technological advances have continued to move us towards great advancements and development.  However, they have also fostered us to move away from naturally developing critical-thinking and problem-solving, and other life skills.   In addition, why do the heavy lifting when a machine can do it?  Simply put, consistent access to ‘screen time’ has led to a more sedentary life-style.  Interestingly, we have seen a surge in childhood obesity since technological advancements in personal computing and social media have come on scene.  Causation or coincidence, you decide – one thing is for certain when you unplug and reconnect to the outdoors there are less distractions and ample opportunity to develop oneself in a healthy manner.
  3. Comprehension of abstract concepts.  Experiential education provides the ideal modality to present, learn and master skills.  Why?  An intentionally designed and facilitated experiential education program, like SOLE’s SOLE Experiences SM, allows participants, to directly experience and learn via a hand-on, boots-on-the-ground approach which taps into different learning styles and individualized needs.  From a neurological perspective, an experiential learning setting fosters the ideal environment to spark the brain and create memory pathways that sustains learning comprehension well beyond the actual experience promoting the opportunity for generalization to occur.  This sort of positive growth and development supports future academic achievement.
  4. Developing a sense of belonging and affinity for nature.  With the hustle and bustle of this crazy thing called “life” it seems we rarely have time to pause and take stock of what we are actually experiencing.  Because the world around us can be a ‘blur’ and at an arms length, we may struggle to truly appreciate that which is around us.   Summer SOLE Experiences SM allow us to do just that – slow down and take it all in, thus allowing us to develop meaningful relationships with those we are with and our surrounding environment.  Experiences such as these forge memories that last a lifetime, and that can set a trajectory for positive choices for our community and its environment.
  5. Experiencing transformation that transfers.  There is something truly special about Summer SOLE Experiences SM.  Participants leave with greater self-confidence and willingness to take a risk, more awareness of the natural systems which exist in the natural world, lasting positive memories and relationships, and the list goes on.  Thanks in part to our savvy Field Instructors and intentional program design, our participants are able to experience something which actually shifts their paradigm in a positive direction.  This transformation is not accidental.  For example, learning cool outdoor technical skills like land navigation (e.g., map and compass) on a Teen Trek Experience SM  can serve as a metaphor and spring board for future leadership development opportunities whether on trail or the sidewalk.

We hope that your summer is a memorable one, full of adventure and exploration in the great outdoors!

See you out there,DennisonTeaching
Dennison Webb, M.A.
Founder | Executive Director

Kip Rand – A friend and inspirational educator

SCSIt comes with deep sadness to announce that we lost a phenomenal individual on March 8th, 2016 – Kip Rand.  Kip served as a Field Instructor for SOLE coordinating and instructing our American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Courses and also served as the Director for the Wallowa Avalanche Center (WAC) based out of Joesph Oregon.  Kip was killed in an avalanche in the late afternoon on March 8, 2016 near Chief Joseph Mountain, west of Joseph, Oregon.

From the WAC announcement:  “Kip was out enjoying some backcountry skiing with an out-of-town friend on a welcome day off from the demanding duties at the avalanche center.  Kip’s commitment to the avalanche center and avalanche safety was immediately evident as he settled into his new position as Director of our organization in November of last year. He came to us with extensive avalanche training, many years of experience as a guide, avalanche educator and pro observer. Most of all, he came to us with a humble, collected and thoughtful demeanor as he spoke and shared his knowledge.  Details on the exact cause of the accident are still unknown. Avalanche professionals from outside our region will assist us in preparing the accident report. The published report will be available on avalanche.org.”  You can read WAC’s official announcement here.

At SOLE, I had the great fortune to work with Kip over the past two years and was consistently impressed by his dedication and passion as a Field Instructor and avalanche professional.   These positive attributes also carried over into our friendship.  For me at the core, Kip will be remembered not only as a gifted avalanche educator and professional but someone whose character and love left a lasting impression on all of us at SOLE, and all those he instructed both in and out of the field.

It has been difficult for me to take all of this in on so many levels.  I am left with a humble reminder to truly take in and celebrate the good people that we connect with day-to-day, and the wonderful memories that we create together “out there”.  Kip always loved being “out there” and could be found skiing, kayaking, teaching, or simply working on his partner’s family farm.  Whatever, it was I can assure it was done with sincerity and passion.

As we approach our spring season please continue to be mindful when you are traveling in the backcountry.  Support your local avalanche center, get trained, get equipped, and use sound judgment and decision-making 0r as Kip would say, “know when to stay home and bake cookies”.  In the coming months, SOLE will be creating a Youth Scholarship for our avalanche education program in his honor.  If you would like to donate to this cause you can do so by going here.

Stay safe,DennisonTeaching
Dennison Webb, M.A.
Founder | Executive Director