Water Drop Dash Returns March 18

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Resolve to save water in 2017! Learn about water conservation while also supporting a local nonprofit The Chattahoochee Nature Center on Saturday, March 18 at 8 a.m. for the 5th annual Water Drop Dash. This family-friendly event is a great way to not only work together to bring awareness to water conservation but also get some exercise on a spring day.

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A young #WaterDropDash runner is unsure what to make of his new friend.

Did you know an estimated 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year from U.S. households? One household alone can waste 10,000 gallons of water yearly, that’s as much as most households consume in a two month period. Water is a precious resource we can’t live without! Be sure to put on your calendar the EPA’s Fix a Leak Week, March 20-26, 2017, but remember that you can race over to your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, fix the leaks and save valuable water and money all year long.

 

As part of Fix a Leak Week, CNC is hosting the annual Water Drop Dash with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.  This is the #1 EPA WaterSense event in the nation!

As well as a fun, fast and flat course, all participants and gusts of the race will learn valuable tips to conserve water in their everyday lives. Water conservation is an important topic to many Georgians and is currently a contested issue between Alabama and Florida (We are still in a multi-state ‘water war’ in court), in addition to the droughts currently impacting the state.wddfinishline

The post-race Water Festival is family-friendly and full of giveaways, games, face painting with FREE admission to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Awards will be presented after the race at a post-race party, which includes healthy snacks from Whole Foods Market for participants.

Teams, businesses and families are invited to participate and receive a $3 discount with four members or more, using the code “TEAM2017.”  All registrants will receive a race number with chip time to help them qualify for the Peachtree Road Race. Runners will get complimentary photos of themselves, from True Speed Photo. Still want to participate but unable to run the race? Sign up as a ghost runner and help us educate on water conservation. Register online now to make a difference, you will receive a t-shirt to prove you got involved too.

The Facts on LeaksRunners can register in person, at local Big Peach Stores and up until 6 p.m. the night before the race at the Big Peach Store located at Johnson Ferry Road, where you can pick up your race packet and chip to arrive later on race day. Last minute registrations are available on site, but the price will be higher, and you’ll need to arrive by 7 a.m. Contact info@waterdropdash.com with questions.

Don’t forget to use the hashtags  #FixALeakWeek  #SaveWater#EPA  #DWM #WaterDropDash in your social media posts! Learn more about the water drop dash on YouTube.

This event is made possible by generous sponsors, such as Big Peach Running Co., Brown and Caldwell, Cox Automotive, Northside Hospital, Garney Construction, Toto USA, Aecom, Ewing, Jacobs, Whole Foods Market and Kind.

The Benefits of Doing Yoga Outdoors

And Why you Should Take Your Practice Outdoors

yoga-1812695_1280As the weather is about to start warming up with the arrival of spring, everyone will be ready to shed their winter clothes and get outdoors. Having the opportunity to exercise outdoors is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A favorite among many yogis is taking your practice outdoors. While yoga studios are often a relaxing, zen environment, nothing can beat fresh air. Are you ready to give outdoor yoga a try? Here are some of the ways that the outdoors benefits your practice:

1. Gives you a chance to reconnect with yourself

Do you ever feel like your senses are heightened while spending time outdoors? That’s because they probably are! Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that relaxing outdoor environments tend to make you feel better by releasing endorphins to the brain. Also having the added stimulation of terrain such as grass and sand only helps you feel more connected to your environment.

yoga4-208x3002. Added benefits to your meditation practice

Currently, there are so many ways to make meditation accessible whether you’re at work or about to go to bed. But if you are looking to take your meditation to the next level, you have to take it outdoors. Scientists have found that meditation helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol in the body and being outdoors vs. in an urban setting helps to reduce these levels more. It also might help you stay focused if your mind tends to wander.

3. Gives you the chance to check out new places

For many of us, our house or apartment is located in urban settings and not always conveniently located near the beach, park, or nature center. Why not make a trip out of it? If you are looking into making it more of a getaway trip, there are many yoga retreats held locally or in popular destinations. In your community there are sure to be events by local yoga studios, such Roswell Yoga Life. However, if you are looking for something more low-key and close-by some of the best trips can be a day trip with family and friends, or even as alone time. 

 

What has been your experience with outdoor yoga? Do you feel like it adds to your practice? Let us know below!

Exercise: the natural way to a healthy, fun life!

 

Not only is exercising a great stress reliever, but it also provides numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally. The best part is that everyone benefits from doing physical activity, no matter their age, gender, or fitness level. There are many different ways to stay fit including running, biking, hiking, weight lifting, swimming or even joining a sports team or club. Here is a list of five major health advantages of staying active.

 

  1. Exercise keeps you in shape.

Regular exercise helps you lose weight and stay fit. Staying active also helps you shed extra weight in fat, and your metabolism will increase which will in turn make you less hungry and make it easier for you to stay fit.

 

  1. Exercise relieves stress and improves your mental health.

Study after study has proved that going out into nature eases stress and improves your mood. Spending time outdoors and staying active stimulates your brain and releases chemicals that make you feel happier and relaxed. Not to mention, being outside in nature’s beauty gives you a mental boost! Learning can be healthy AND fun!

 

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  1. Exercise combats disease and reduces risk of cancer.

 Regular exercise lowers blood pressure, which directly decreases your chances of having cardiovascular disease. Exercise also helps prevent many health concerns including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even arthritis. Physical activity also strengthens your joints and bones. The Journal of Nutrition recently published over 170 different studies that proved that regular physical activity even lowers risk of certain cancers.

 

  1. Exercise boosts your energy levels and helps you sleep.

 Regular physical activity helps increase your muscle strength and endurance. With better fitness and healthier heart and lung systems, you are able to tackle day-to-day activities with more energy. Additionally, regular exercise improves your sleep. You will fall asleep faster, and sleep sounder.

 

  1. Exercise improves your social life.

Exercise can be fun, enjoyable, and social! You are bound to connect with friends and family while you are getting out and staying active in many various ways!

 

Exercise has endless health benefits, and it is important to understand your fitness plan and target. Have a plan in place on how you intend to stay active to reach your end goal!

One way to get that exercise in is to come out on Saturday, March 18 to the Fifth Annual Water Drop Dash 5k Race along the beautiful banks of the Chattahoochee to support the North Metropolitan Water Planning District.

Be social, get outside and get active!

 

Flying into CNC for Family Fun, Jan. 15 with EcoTinker!

eco-tinker-snowflakeFamily Fun Day:

Flying into the Future

January 15, 12-4 pm

 

 

Enjoy fun and interactive activities that will help you learn more about wildlife and how they are connected to the world around us. Learn about catapults, flights and nature’s math at the Flying into the Future Family Fun Day at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, Jan. 15.

Activities include:

New to CNC and the Family Fun Day are the Eco-Tinker interactive exhibits! These activities are up until the end of February:

Experience Live, Flying Birds: Have you ever wondered how birds stay warm during the cold winter months? In this activity, you will have the opportunity to study feathers under a microscope, and discover the ways these feathers keep birds so warm.

Explore The Mechanics of Flight: Catapults are not only fun and engaging but also can be found all around us. Can you think of ways catapults can be found out in nature?

Shelter Engineers: Do you think you can build a shelter using spider webs, sticks, and leaves? Learn how animals use these kind of objects to protect themselves from the natural world.

Tinkering Forest: Do you have an artsy side? Using recycled materials, you will be designing trees for our tinkering forest. Learn more how recycled materials can be reused for different purposes.

Snowflake Math: Have you ever noticed how each snowflake is unique from another? Build your own snowflake and learn the ways that snowflakes are different from one another.

 

This event is free to all CNC Members and included with General Admission!

Family Fun Days at CNC are generously presented by Northside Hospital.

 

Winter: An Enchanting Time of Year

 

Nature enchants and inspires us, especially in winter, when new views of the celestial sky are revealed. Trees reach out bare limbs and tempt us to climb up. Cold weather is the perfect time to engage in learning more about the various life sciences, such as biology, botany, environmental science, astronomy and zoology, while also experiencing healthy fitness activities like hiking too. Will it snow this winter? The weatherman is always giving us a daily update on that topic.

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Did you know all snowflakes follow a 6-sided pattern when they are formed? They do! This makes them valuable to learn from weather to geometry, to simple chemistry, physics and even math!

Have you ever really observed a snowflake up close? Did you know this about snowflakes – they are rarely alike, but they always have six sides. In fact, snowflakes are a great way to demonstrate geometry, or describe fractals. Snowflakes are frozen water molecules that can be beautiful, fun to make and observe and they can help us teach everything from weather to geometry, to simple chemistry, physics and even math! That is a great way to integrate a lesson, such as “STEM” learning requires.

You may have heard of the acronym “STEM” In recent years, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) became an exciting trend in education. Recently, an offshoot of this, STEAM, has emerged, adding Art into the mix. Art is especially important for developing the critical thinking and creativity skills needed to excel in the sciences.

STEM + Art = STEAM

The objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

  • Transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  • Encourage integration of Art + Design in K–12 education
  • Influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

At the Chattahoochee Nature Center we have worked to bring STEM into focus, using nature and outdoor learning as a foundation for K-12 students. We have been part of this national education trend for several years, in partnership with metro school systems.

With our Development Department working closely with our Education Department and thanks to generous grants, especially from companies like 3M and other corporate donors, we have developed exciting natural science pilot programs. CNC launched the first grant for five elementary schools three years ago and just this year a new grant was initiated for five middle schools, using STEAM curriculum methodology with our talented Education Department in collaboration with the Fulton County Charter School System and five local middle schools.

By blending these curricula and using life sciences as the context, we are able to provide foundational blended learning to inspire students. This will help them in the future as they consider future careers and also as they devise potential solutions for existing and future challenges that we can’t even anticipate yet.

“Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection).”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

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Notice how similar the Peregrine Falcon looks during flight to the B-2 bomber. This is “biomimicry” – humans design following natural form.

Nature provides excellent engineering examples; hence mankind’s focus on ‘biomimicry.’ For instance, the aerospace industry has been copying birds in flight since the first airplane was launched. Being confident in the fundamentals of the natur

al sciences is essential, but knowing how science and engineering are also linked to math can give students a head start on problem solving with the ‘big picture’ as they begin to comprehend how multiple systems interconnect.

Let’s consider that snowflake again. How does it form? Water molecules are composed of oxygen atoms. When those atoms freeze, they have strong attractions to the electron clouds of two hydrogen atoms that pull close but leave the two ends positively charged, the center of the “V” is more negatively charged. As the water molecules touch, the negatively and positively charged parts of different particles join together in a very specific three-dimensional pattern with precise six-sided symmetry. Each water molecule that joins that snowflake reflects this pattern until eventually its macroscopic six-sided shape is formed. In fact, that single snowflake demonstrates a finite space, with infinite designs, describing fractals. The average snowflake can be made up of up to 180 billion molecules of water! If you draw it, you will see a geometric design that is a mathematical equation. It is a classic example of how to closely examine chemistry, physics, math (geometry), and even art! Did you ever cut out a piece of paper to look like a snow flake?

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You can even extend the lesson to consider ‘water.’ Of course, it is this essential natural resource that we all depend on that snow is composed of. About 98% of the Earth’s water is in the oceans, yet only 2% is fresh water. About 90% of that fresh water is permanently frozen, mostly locked up in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. About 12% of the Earth’s surface land is covered by permanent ice and snow. When you consider how much snow falls just in the USA each year, it is indeed wondrous!

The enchantment of nature is how it stimulates our curiosity. We learn about ourselves, even while we explore other topics and learn about other organisms. It’s recognizing how big the world beyond our world is. It’s appreciating our native animals as well as marveling at microscopic macro invertebrates. It’s wondering at everything yet to be discovered as we explore and observe the fascinating world around us.

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That is what we do here at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.  Our staff, volunteers and docents enjoy helping visitors and students alike witness nature’s allure daily. This winter, give some thought to how creative and mysterious nature is when you get outside for a hike. Lean against a tree and look up at the stars at night. Then try to catch a snowflake if it snows. Imagine how big the universe is and how we all play a part in being a part of it.

 

Get a dose of ‘Vitamin N’ to cure those winter blues

At holiday time, we wonder what to give others. What will make our children (and us) happy, content, healthy and more relaxed? Perhaps, simply adding a dose of “Vitamin N,” that secret ingredient we call “Nature,” would enrich and enlighten our families while also making us all healthier.

Can you collect your thoughts in front of a TV? Rarely do people disconnect from the technology that distracts and destroys the very fiber of their relationships to each other. By reconnecting to nature, with a simple walk on a woodland trail, or along a river boardwalk, you can experience something healing and authentic.

Just ask a child what they love about playing outside.  It is that undiscovered rare moment, watching nature in action, like seeing a hawk fly overhead or a fish jump in a pond. It is watching a deer graze, or a butterfly on the flowers. As leaves change colors on trees, then fall for the winter, we see their architecture revealed. Winter has a beauty and simplicity, only observed when we go outside to enjoy it.

Taking a walk in the winter has many benefits for our health. We actually burn more calories in cold weather when we go outside and exercise. Connecting to nature has many other benefits – it can calm the spirit and give us time to think. It can also be a great way to be together when we get outside as families.

Get outside this winter to battle "nature deficit disorder!"
Get outside this winter to battle “nature deficit disorder!”

Giving the gift of Vitamin N is a treat. Consider taking your family out for a hike to one of the many places that Roswell has to offer, including the safe and easy trails at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, where there are also plenty of native wildlife to see as well as enriching activities to make the experience fun for everyone.

The Nature Center offers programs daily throughout the winter months. Visit the new beavers on exhibit. A gift of membership to CNC is a great idea. It can overcome that “nature deficit disorder,” which can result from too much time in front of TVs and other electronic devices. Check out these many possibilities at www.chattnaturecenter.org but take time to get yourself some Vitamin N!

December – The Magic of Winter Survival

What do you do when you get cold in the winter? Bundle up in front of a fire? Drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows, of course)? For animals, they can’t do any of these things, and have to find other ways to survive or keep warm during the cold winter months.

Some animals leave their home to monarchgo south, where it’s warmer. Many birds fly south – have you seen Sandhill Cranes flying in their famous “V” formation? Monarch Butterflies fly to Mexico to stay warm; they are the only known insect that migrates this far. This can be a trek of thousands of miles. That’s incredible for such tiny, delicate creatures!

raccoon-and-rabbitOther animals stay where they are for the winter and will grow a thick coat of fur or increase fat stores. For some, they may hibernate, brumate, or enter a state of torpor. Hibernators like bears take their cues from day length and hormone changes while animals that enter a state of torpor take their cues from temperature and food availability. Reptiles, such as the American Toad or bullfrogs, enter a state of brumation – their metabolism slows down quite a bit but they do not “go to sleep” for the winter. If the temperatures do rise on a certain day, you may see reptiles out and about.

Unity Garden has record year giving to needy

 

Did you know there are hungry people living in North Fulton? Every day, the North Fulton Community Charities helps needy families with emergency financial assistance, advice or food. In 2015 they provided $1,314,039 in emergency financial assistance, provided food 18,883 times, helped 1,137 adults with workforce readiness and life skills, and kept 2,446 families in their homes.ug1

CNC contributes to this great and continual effort. Every year, the Unity Garden grows produce for the NFCC food pantry. This year, 2016, has provided a record harvest, said CNC Unity Garden Coordinator Tricia Nitti. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 22, CNC was been able to donate 10,166 lbs (over 5 tons) of fresh produce to North Fulton Community Charities.

Just in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Nitti said the garden has produced 481 lbs of food to make for a fantastic Thanksgiving feast for NFCC families.

“We are so grateful to CNC Unity Garden as our families are,” said NFCC Food Pantry Manager Melody Fortin. “The garden supplies us with a wide assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs all year. Right now we have beautiful collard greens, five different types of kale, green beans, peppers, and nine different types of herbs that they brought in today.”

ug4Fortin said the NFCC food pantry sees about 100 families a day, which makes for quick turnover in the crops grown – they go out almost as fast as they can be stocked.

Eating locally-grown food has many benefits.

ug3By growing food in your backyard you can monitor how organic you want it to be. With food at the grocery store, you never know what you’re getting, even if it says it’s organic. And being truly farm-to-table, the food tastes better. There are higher nutrients in these crops that are lost in shipping to stores, a process that can take weeks.

The Unity Garden at CNC was established in April 2010 with a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente. The quarter-acre garden has three goals: Production, Donation and Education. Throughout the year, school groups get to see first-hand how their food is grown. For many, this is the first time they have seen crops they eat all the time.

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Volunteers tend to the garden, and Nitti said an increase in volunteer numbers and hours have contributed to the record harvest.

“Regular volunteers have been attending both Tuesday and Wednesday sessions, special Friday and Saturday work days have allowed Corporate and Civic volunteer groups to participate greater, and the weather has been ideal for optimum growth and extended growing potential,” Nitti said.

ug2Thank you to all who have made this a banner year in Unity Garden! We will continue to provide our community with fresh produce throughout the winter and hopefully make an impact in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”

 

3 things to know about the Ga. Wildfires and drought

 

Coming up to Thanksgiving,

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Georgia Drought Response Declaration, Nov. 17, 2016

Georgia is in a tough situation. The week of Nov. 14 marked 24 straight weeks without rain in northwest Georgia – including Atlanta. Some streams are at their lowest point since the 2007 drought. This is putting a strain on the drinking water for the state as well as irrigation for agriculture both in Georgia and Florida (the issue of water use is now in the supreme court!)

Because of this drought, soil has dried up, plants have begun dying and the ground is covered in dry, dry leaves and brush. This has all contributed to a severe problem with wildfires in the north of the state as well as Tennessee and North Carolina. The smoke from these hundreds of fires has been smelled – and seen! – as far south at metro Atlanta and air quality alerts have been given to those with respiratory issues. Over 60,000 total acres of land have been burned in the state due to wildfires this year.

So what do you need to know and what can be done to help mitigate these problems? Lucky for you, we have some tips.

 

Conserve water

On Nov. 17, the Georgia EPD and the Governor’s office have placed restrictions on water usage due to the drought. Watering the lawn is prohibited more than twice a week. Even-numbered addresses may water Wednesday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Odd-numbered addresses may water Thursdays and Sundays, during the same times.

Here are some ways residents can save water:

  • Check and repair leaks inside and outside the home.
  • Shorten showers and turn off water when shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Only water plants and gardens when the sun is down (to reduce evaporative loss).
  • Fill dishwashers and washing machines. Make sure there is a full load every time.
  • Replace older toilets and shower heads with high efficiency models. If your home was built before 1993, you may qualify for a toilet rebate.
  • Choose efficient appliances. Look for EPA WaterSense and ENERGY STAR labeled products when shopping for new appliances and fixtures.
  • Scrape dishes before washing them. Avoid using the garbage disposal. It wastes a lot of water and can contribute to pipe clogs.

Find more conservation tips at My Drop Counts.

 

Only some watering is allowed

Most of the state is under water restrictions and burn bans. Prohibited outdoor water uses include:

  • Washing hard surfaces such as streets and sidewalks.
  • Water for ornamental purposes, such as fountains.
  • The use of fire hydrants, except for firefighting and public safety.
  • Non-commercial washing of vehicles.
  • Non-commercial pressure washing.
  • Fundraising car washes.

Commercial car washes tend to recycle their water, making them more water-efficient than home-based washing.

 

Allowed outdoor water uses include:

  • Irrigation of personal food gardens may be done at any time of day.
  • Irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf may be done at any time of day for 30 days after installation.
  • Drip irrigation or irrigation using soaker hoses may be done at any time of day and hand-watering with a hose with automatic cutoff or handheld container may be done at any time of day.
  • General landscape watering may be done between 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. on the designated days.

More water conservation information is available at Georgia EPD.

 

Beware of outdoor fires

Georgia Bay Complex fire
Georgia Bay Complex fire

The ground is very dry and even a small spark may set off a fire. Don’t make campfires or burn outdoors for any reason.

Some fires are good for the environment, says Tom Howick, Director of Education at CNC.

“Fires are a natural occurrence in forests through lightening,” he said. “Fire can help clean out the forest leaf litter that builds up on the forest floor.”

He said the occasional fire will actually help some species of plants and trees and it encourages new growth, although it will force wild animals out of their habitat.

However, when fires get too big and begin encroaching on populated areas of property, they need to be contained.

“No one wants a forest fire close to their property, burning their home down,” Howick said.

With the ground so dry, these fires can start anywhere and anytime. A campfire not properly put out or even a cigarette tossed from a car may start a large fire.

If you see smoke of fire anywhere it shouldn’t be – woods, lawns, near your home – call 911 and report it.

For updates on the Georgia wildfires and their containment, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission.

 

Lessons from the River: Never give up believing in yourself

Sometimes you need a reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to.

Students at the Chattahoochee Nature Center were reminded of this earlier this month when a courageous young woman visited and showed them just what could be possible.

Aimee Copeland is an amazing young woman who garnered national attention a few years ago when a zip lining accident occurred in a river near her friend’s house.  While in the air, the zip line broke and Amy fell down into the river, where she received a deep gash in her leg.

Unfortunately, the water harbored a flesh-eating bacteria which resulted in an amputation of her left leg up to her hip, and another amputation of her right leg below her knee. The doctors also had to eventually amputate both of her hands.

Amy is now an advocate who wishes to start a foundation for people with disabilities that will use nature and other holistic healing methods to help img_2847-3them live whole and fulfilling, happy and healthy lives.

She came out to paddle with CNC Nov. 7 to learn more about W ilderness Inquiry, Canoemobile, and the Chattahoochee Nature Center!

CNC invited Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile over to educate students about the wonders of the river. This Minnesota-based group travels the country introducing children and the needy to nature. In Canoemobile’s case, it does this through – you guessed it – going on the river.

Between Nov. 1 – 8, CNC hosted several school groups of all ages and throughout the metro region, many of whom had never been in a canoe before.

“We try to get people who don’t have much access to waterways in our areas,” said Cory Dack, Outdoor Leader and Canoemobile Primary Leader. “We act as that connection – bridges between the typical urban city dwellers and nature.”

She said children from inner-city schools need access to nature more than anyone, for their own mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing.

“Being out in nature impacts your overall health,” she said.

The canoes used in Canoemobile are 24-foot-long “Voyageur” canoes, capable of fitting a dozen kids at once, all paddling together. This makes fielding classes of children possible and fun.

And CNC, located right on the Chattahoochee River, is a prime location to launch, with many of the area’s schools already familiar with CNC and its programming.

img_2853Aimee was an incredibly enthusiastic and engaging guest who happily joined the first WI boat group this morning and paddled with a group of school children. A guide used her Therapeutic Recreation background to figure out the best way to create a comfortable paddle for Aimee, using an ace bandage to attach a small orange adaptive paddle to Aimee’s arm. Then Aimee was helped to hop from stool to stool as she climbed into the canoe.

A young 7th grade girl, 13-year-old Zamariah Strozier, was initially incredibly scared to get in a canoe, and said later that she was seriously thinking of not going…. until she saw Aimee get in the canoe.  Zamariah told her teacher that Aimee’s presence inspired her to get in the canoe anyway, even though she was scared. Later, staff led a group debrief in which group members were asked to identify one moment from the day where they were proud of themselves.  Zamariah said that she was proud of herself for “Taking a risk, even though I didn’t want to, and trying a new experience by going out of my comfort zone.”