It’s the beginning of January and we are heading into what might be the coldest week of the year so far. Sometimes being outside in the cold can be intimidating, but here at Wolf Ridge we believe it is also a great opportunity to learn and explore in a unique setting. During these frosty times in the middle of winter we get a lot of questions about what our teaching staff does to make sure winter classes don’t get too cold. With that in mind, here are the top five ways we strive to make winter the best season of the year for learning:
1. Warm Clothing in Layers: A great time outside starts by coming prepared with warm clothing. Check out our earlier blog posts on helpful hints and tips on getting the most out of your winter gear. Wolf Ridge naturalists keep an eye on the clothing that people bring to class, making sure they have the right gear to get the most out of learning outside.
2. Move Around, Move Often: Another key to enjoying the winter outdoors is to keep moving. People get cold when they don’t move around, even if they are wearing super warm clothing. Wolf Ridge classes are designed to keep people moving and active, making the cold invigorating rather than chilling. Naturalists encourage people to participate fully in class activities. If people are still cold, strategies like running in place, swinging their arms, or doing jumping jacks for just a few minutes can make a big difference. If people start getting hot or sweaty, taking off a hat or a top layer briefly to cool down and then putting them back on later helps immensely.
3. Inside. Outside. Repeat: When outside temperatures are very cold and a class isn’t constantly moving, sometimes naturalists choose to split their classes between indoor and outdoor activities. A great class in the cold includes the right mix of active exploration outside with appropriate breaks to warm up. Naturalists are also trained in monitoring people for common cold injuries and educate participants to keep an eye on each other as well.
4. Food is Fuel: Healthy, high energy foods are a sure way to enjoy the winter woods. Staying warm requires energy, and energy comes from the food we eat. Our dining hall offers good, balanced, and hearty food at every meal and we encourage students to eat a good meal beforehand with the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Wolf Ridge classes also have a snack in the middle of class to give an extra energy boost for the rest of our time outside.
5. Positive Mental Attitude: People have been living and thriving outside in the cold for thousands of years. A big part of thriving in the winter is accepting its challenges and striving to have a positive mental attitude. In addition to teaching students about warmth saving strategies, naturalists teach people how to take ownership of their own warmth and experience. This means participating actively, staying positive, and asking for help if personally staying warm is a challenge. Winter and cold weather demands respect, but with the right preparation, knowledge, and attitude it can be one of most beautiful and rewarding experiences you can find.