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Weekly Challenge # 14 – Mug Up

December 1, 2013


Many of my favorite memories as a child in winter were of warming up outdoors with a warm drink of something. After a hard afternoon of playing it was such an outstanding moment when I sat down in my snowpants and drank a cup of warm apple cider or hot chocolate. I remember feeling my insides warming up and then have that warm feeling it spread to my arms, legs, fingers and toes.

I was a Scout and later as an adult a Scout leader for about 15 years and spent many a weekend at winter camp. Having a warm cup of hot chocolate during “mug up” around the evening campfire.  The warm chocolate lava was not only a reward for a day of adventure outdoors but also an internal blanket keeping us allowing us to climb into our sleeping bags feeling warm and comfortable.

I learned to love the scent and the taste of hot apple cider not outdoors but inside one of my favorite childhood restaurants. The Stone Crock in St Jacobs, Ontario is a long-standing restaurant run by local Mennonites. As a child I recall sitting by a large hearth with a fire blazing in the middle of winter by the front entrance of the place as we awaited our table. This was one of the few times I was happy to hear we’d have to wait ten or fifteen minutes for a table to be ready.

Later, in my college years I learned to love tea. I recall in the late 1980’s camping in Killarney Provincial Park in central Ontario. It was mid December and our Outdoors Club was braving the winter spell to hike over the lakes which most of us had only seen by canoe in warmer weather. This particular evening we were camping on top of “The Crack” a well-known feature in the park. I awoke my tent buddy when the nylon walls of our tent were starting to glow with what I thought was the morning sun.

It turned out it was the largest meteor show in years and we were there in the LaCloche mountains with no sign of civilization except a far off radio tower. We sat in the snowbanks drinking tea and watched the meteors fall for hours.

Yesterday I brought two of my younger daughters out tobogganing and when we were finished they pleaded and begged for some hot chocolate and I recognized from their pleas that the warm drink was part of the experience. It was a time to debrief, a time to chat about all that you accomplished out in the cold. It was a time to laugh at the fun and the escapades just shared.

A warm drink in your hands after a hard day of being outdoors is the denouement to a great adventure outdoors.

A warm drink after a field trip, or a day outdoors will allow your students to sit, reflect, laugh and discuss ideas for the next time as they sipped from a cup of reward.

So this week, my challenge is to strive to offer students a warm drink after time outdoors in the cold. Listen to their conversations and join in. Allow them the time to debrief their outdoor experience in this new old-fashioned way.

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