Some Engaging And Fun Water Activities

Water games are fun activities that most family and friends can and love to partake in together. These activities help in strengthening family bonds, team work among teams, improving one’s hand-eye coordination and boosting stamina and strength. They can take place in swimming pools, ponds, rivers, lakes, or the ocean. Some of the different kinds of water games/activities are described below.

 

Scuba Diving

 

a couple scuba diving

 

Most of us know what scuba diving is. The diver uses a self-contained breathing apparatus designed for under water use, carrying their own tank of compressed oxygen. They use fins that are attached to their feet to enable them to move faster in the water, and a wet suit to keep them from getting too cold. Some people do this as a hobby, while it can also be used by scientists, military divers or media divers for work related issues.

 

Kitesurfing

 

wind surfing

 

This is a surface water activity that combines windsurfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, gymnastics and wake boarding all in one. The kiteboarder depends on the power of the wind, which is held with a power kite, to propel them across the water on their water board. This allows them to do flips through the air when the wind lifts them upward or ride waves faster when the wind pulls them sideways. It’s all about control, and more than a million people enjoy this activity/sport every year.

 

Pool Scrabble

 

scrabble played in the pool

 

Scrabble is a game that uses letters to create words, incorporated into the pool, and it’s a fun way to engage the children and still assist them in learning. In pool scrabble, letters are written on material that can float or sink, and the swimmers find the pieces to make words and then put the words on the edge of the swimming pool.

 

Rubber Duck Race

 

racing rubber ducks

 

Just as the name implies, a rubber duck race involves racing rubber ducks on water (preferably a river or stream), and is commonly called derby duck races. This activity is mostly for fundraising events where the duck is given a number, which allows the participants to ‘adopt’ a rubber duck for a small fee. All the ducks are then dumped into a body of water. If the player’s duck crosses the finish line first, they can win money or other prizes.

 

Kayaking

 

yellow kayaks

 

Kayaks can be sit on tops or sit-ins, and can be used for fishing, diving, racing, sailing, or exercise. It can also be done with Origami Kayaks, a foldable kayak that allows one to easily carry the it from one location to another. The MY CANOE Origami Kayak has made interactions with nature easier by allowing one to carry it in a backpack, then unfold it and head out on the water from anywhere.

 

Water Skiing

 

water skiing in the ocean

 

Water skiing is a surface water sport where an individual is pulled behind a boat over a body of water, mostly lakes, for a smooth ride. One is tied with a tow rope to a boat and skis fast on the surface of the water. They can do tricks on ramps or just hold on and enjoy the ride. It’s a fun activity that is open for people of all skills and ages to enjoy.

 

Summary

 

There are many more water activities to participate in, these just being a few to get started. Water games/activities/sports have proven to be good for your health, your state of mind, and most importantly, they help to increase confidence in you and your children. For the more extreme activities, make sure to wear a life jacket for added safety. Have fun out there!

Bird Watching Etiquette 101

If you’re going to start bird watching, please have respect for fellow watchers and the birds themselves. Always be super quiet so the birds don’t get scared and stressed. Enjoy the beautiful birds!

Intro To Bird Watching

Watching birds is a year-round activity that can be thoroughly enjoyed from anywhere, even your own backyard. All you need is a good pair of binoculars and some know-how on what to look for when you start studying our flying friends more closely. Whether you watch birds in your backyard or travel thousands of miles to see a rare bird, all you really need is binoculars.

 

people looking for birds

 

Instead of a brown smudge in the distance, a good quality binocular will let you see the features of a bird. For instance, you would be able to see the white and yellow edging on the wings of a small bird, a bird with beautiful white patches, one with a combination of brown and gray with streaks of jet black near its eyes, etc. If you knew what you were watching for, you’d have said, “That’s the Bohemian Waxwing.”, or “That’s the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.” Buy the best quality binocular that you can afford so you can see every detail on these beautiful birds.

 

The good news is that an advancement in technology has led to improved performance with a reduction in cost. Before you buy a binocular, do some research online to find out exactly what strengths each one has. A good binocular will usually give a magnification that allows for as wide of a view as possible. If you wear glasses, you should know the minimum eye relief provided by the binocular, which is a miniumum of 15 mm for most people.

 

exotic bird

 

To get started, you’d need a field guide or some time to do research online to find out what species are in and around your area. A field guide is a book with pictures of birds and helpful commentary on how to identify them. Some may prefer a field guide with drawings, rather than pictures. Good bird artists portray birds in poses that make it easier for you to notice the bird and rightly identify them. Some photographs, due to lighting conditions or different postures, may hide important features of a particular bird.

 

different bird guides

 

Whether a drawing or a photograph, a good field guide must have highly accurate images so you can easily identify what you are seeing. A good starting point for beginner bird watchers could be The Sibley Guide To Birds (their store is closed for now, but there are links to shop elsewhere). Also, a standout app among all field guide apps out there is iBird, which is packed with pictures, facts, and illustrations. When you spot a bird through your binoculars, don’t try to immediately identify it. Keep watching it for as long as you can, watch its movements, the markings on its body, and the posture of the bird. Study the bird for as long as possible before it flies out of sight.

 

brown and blue bird

 

So now that you have your binocular and field guide with you, you know how to watch and what you are watching for. All you need now is a notebook to write down or sketch what you see, or use an app like BirdLog to keep a record of your observations. Using a camera is also helpful, because even a blurry picture could help you identify that rare bird that you thought you had spotted. Look at pictures shared online by bird watchers from all over the world for inspiration. A camera can be a very valuable addition to your starting kit, but is not a necessity.

 

Alright, you are all ready now to watch some birds! Just remember to be respectful towards nature and do not endanger the welfare of the birds or of any other animals around you. Happy bird watching!

Poisonous Wild Plants And The Rashy Consequences!

One day you may find yourself taking a walk in the woods, or wandering around while camping, and all of a sudden you get a rash. You might know what poison ivy looks like, so you’ll think to yourself that you were careful to avoid it, but yet you still have a rash. Well, there are other plants that can cause a rash, but they are not discussed nearly as often as poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Here are just some of them…

Wood Nettle

 

stinging plant

This unassuming plant is often found near streams and in other various areas of woods and forests. The plant is usually between 2-4 feet tall and the color of the leaves may range from medium green to dark green. The leaves can reach up to 6 inches in length with a slightly elongated appearance, sort of like a palm, with edges that are serrated. It is the leaves that carry stiff, fine hairs which come off upon contact with our skin or clothes.

Our bodies react to the formic acid on the hairs, causing an itchy, burning rash. The nettle’s hairs that remain stuck to our skin can be removed by sticking a good adhesive tape on the affected area and pulling them out with it. Do not reuse the tape. The rash usually lasts up to two hours, maybe less and can easily be relieved with an antihistamine.

Stinging Nettle

 

irritating plant

The Stinging Nettle is found in most of North America and it loves to grow in places close to water or soil that is constantly wet. It can also be found near people’s houses or backyards. This plant’s leaves closely resemble the Wood Nettle’s, except it grows opposite each other instead of alternately. Some plants have a purplish color in its green, serrated leaves.

The Stinging Nettle also has pretty pink colored small flowers in little bunches, which start out as white buds. The stinging nettles are not only on the leaves but also on the flowers and stems of the plant. Our skin’s reaction is more severe and the burning itch can last up to several hours. Taking an antihistamine can help, but it may take more than a couple of hours for the reaction to die down, even with medication.

Giant and Common Ragweed

 

poisonous plant

Common Ragweed

Both plants are commonly seen around the United States of America. They have leaves that resemble an open palm, complete with outstretched fingers. Their names are related to the sizes of the leaves; the common ragweed has smaller leaves compared to the giant ones. The ragweed plants can cause hay fever-like symptoms because of their flowers, but brushing up against the plants themselves can also cause our skin to react with swollen raised bumps which can be itchy and have a burning sensation. An antihistamine can be helpful in decreasing both hay fever reactions and the skin rash.

Wild Parsnip

 

plant that is poisonous

Wild Parsnip are commonly found anywhere in North America. The plant is often covered with small yellow flowers that are very attractive. It is quite sensitive and you can easily break off its stems, causing the sap to come out. When the sap touches our skin, there is no reaction until the affected area is exposed to the sun. The oils in the sap react to the heat of the sunlight and this creates the burning sensation, which is a bit difficult to remove. If the sap is left on the skin too long, blisters will form and the skin may form bloody welts.

Before you wander through the woods, there are many dangers to be aware of, and plants are just one of them. Research more poisonous plants so you can identify and thusly avoid them while you’re outdoors. None of us wants to deal with a rash! The more you know, the better, but just in case you accidentally run into one of these plants, make sure to carry antihistamines so the symptoms aren’t nearly as severe.

Spelunking (Caving) – An Underground Adventure

Caving, also known as potholing or spelunking, is the recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems. Depending on the type of the cave you are exploring, you may come across rocky walls, wade through waters, or dive into different depths of water. Caves have rock formations such a stalactites and stalagmites, which normally can never be found above ground. There are also creatures that have lived in and have fully adapted to the darkness and moisture in caves, such that if they were exposed to light, they would die. Some caves carry a lot of human history and you can find pre-historic pottery, campfire sites and ancient art.

2 people exploring caves

Why People Go Caving

Spelunking is a multi-faceted activity. You can do it to explore, exercise, or just to test your physical capabilities. Either way, it’s a fascinating adventure to see what exists underground, to find things lost to the outside world.

Discovery – Cave exploration is an adventurous activity of the highest form. The universe that lies beneath our feet is simply exotic. From creatures that live in the caves to rock formations to water types, caving has the lure of the unknown and the excitement of discovery.

Cave Archaeology – Caves were used for sacred rituals and ceremonial sites in many world cuĀ­ltures. Because they are protected from elements of weather, they often have well-preserved ceremonial vessels, clothing & burial objects. Caving enthusiasts can study these artifacts to establish archaeological evidence.

drawing in a cave

Sports – No other sporting activity can give the same unique thrills and challenges that caving can, offering an adrenaline-filled sporting experience. You can engage in competitive traversing of gorges, ascend the potholes, climb boulders as well as swimming in the underground lakes.

Exercising – Caving requires flexibility, mobility and strength, which are beneficial to muscles and joints. Not only that, but there’s something very peaceful about exercising in a cool environment away from everyone else. It’s definitely a unique experience.

Best Types Of Caves To Discover

There are many types of caves and the best types to discover depend on how they were formed and where they are found. They include:

Solution Caves – These are the most common and complex types of cave systems. Solution caves are formed from soluble rocks, with the most common being limestone. When groundwater seeps underground through cracks, joints, faults and bedding places through these soluble rocks, they end up forming solution caves.

type of cave

Eolian Caves – These are wind-carved caves which are usually found in desert areas. Desert winds, which carry silt or sand particles, continuously hit against rocky cliffs, which then creates caves.

sand cave

Sea Caves – These caves are beautiful and well formed through the action of sea waves pounding against the land, leading to material removal over time. They are always found facing the sea and are adventurous to discover, as many of them can only be approached by boats or kayaks.

ocean cave

Rock Shelters – These are formed as a result of bedrock erosion which takes place in insoluble rocks. They are found in places where a resistant rock, like sandstone, overlies an erosion-susceptible rock, like shale. Erosion weathers the shale off and leaves behind a rock shelter with a sandstone roof.

type of cave

Ice Caves – Ice caves are the most unique type of cave, as they are formed entirely from melting ice and flowing water within and under glaciers.

caves made of ice

Equipment To Use

While caving, the most important equipment one should have is the helmet and a source of light. Hard hats or helmets should be worn to protect the head from any falling rocks, as well as to provide a hands-free source of light. LED lights are a caver’s primary source of light, which is usually mounted on the helmet so they can carry other things.

helmet for a cave

The clothing you should wear mostly depends on the environment of the cave. In cold/ice caves, the caver should have a warm base layer that has insulating properties. Light clothes can be worn in warm dry caves while wet-suits can be worn if the cave is wet or has stream passages. It’s also a good idea to carry a first aid kit in your backpack for emergencies, as well as some sort of stick to feel things out, like how deep a body of water will be.

Dangers Of Caving

Caving can be a dangerous activity and depending on the type of the cave, a caver can be exposed to many bad things/situations like the ones below.

Hypothermia – When a person loses more heat than they can absorb and their body temperature falls to below 90 degrees. They shiver and can become confused in the early stages, progressing to more confusion and no shivering. After that is the most dangerous stage where the condition becomes lethal.

graph for hypothermia

Falling – People have fallen down deep holes in caves, breaking bones or worse. If you’re alone, that could mean big trouble, as there’s no one around to help. Always watch where you’re going and try to have a friend go along with you, just in case there is such an emergency.

Floods – If it’s been raining in the area of the cave, there could be flash floods, so it’s good to stay tuned in to the weather before caving. The ocean water in caves will rise with the tide, so that needs to be considered as well. Floods can be deadly or cause you to be trapped for an extended period.

Falling Rocks – Falling rocks can quickly turn into a tragedy, so always be on the lookout for unexpected situations like this that can arise. If it’s a popular tourist destination, you can ask how often rocks fall from the ceiling and how safe the cave is overall. Be aware at all times of your surroundings.

Physical Exhaustion – If you get tired easily, think twice about a longer journey into a cave. It can be more tiring than you think, especially if it’s all downhill and you have to walk back on an upward slant. Take breaks if you must and take water with snacks for a nice boost of energy.

Histoplasmosis – This disease is also known as Cave Disease or Spelunker’s Lung and is caused by a fungus found in soil. The reason it’s in caves is because of bat droppings. If you’re in a situation where you’re excavating and digging for souvenirs, make sure to wear a mask to avoid breathing in any dust from the soil being disrupted. Some people wear one anyway, just to be on the safe side.

scaling an ice wall

Spelunking can be a fun and peaceful activity, a place to get your mind off of things while you go exploring deep into a cave. It’s truly like a whole new world underground that will excite our curiosities and show some uniquely beautiful scenery. Everyone should try it at least once, and who knows, maybe it will be something you become passionate about, as there are many kinds of caves to explore!