Teaching In the Rain – No problem

I came across this article recently and after having to cancel a rather large event this past weekend due to rain thought that now would be a good time to share. This article is written by Ray Cramer is an experienced outdoor educator at IslandWood, a 225-acre outdoor leaning center in Bainbridge, WA Where they see their fair share of rain! So, for all of my friends in Florida (where we also get a fair amount of rain) I hope that you learn some useful tips on teaching in the rain.

Teaching in the rain

Teaching In the Rain? No problem!

I teach outdoors on an island near Seattle, so I decided to recount a few things I have learned about teaching out in the rain over the years. Much like sitting outside in a circle, minding the details makes all the difference, so here are ten I keep in mind.

Zip-lock baggies

Writing in the rain is challenging, but usually worth the effort. One great technique is to put the journal or paper into a gallon zip closure bag. When the time comes to write, the writer turns the bag upside down and then unzips it while keeping the paper inside. They hold the paper in place through the bag with one hand and snake the other hand in to write, looking through the bag and being sure to keep the opening at the bottom. Short pencils work best with this approach (think golf pencils).



Let’s start with the obvious—you should have waterproof raingear. For some, this means a Patagonia jacket, but I know a lot of outdoor educators, myself included, who have a $30 plastic jacket because you never have to worry about the seams. For everyone else, don’t let anyone kid you that their coat is waterproof when you can tell it isn’t. The bottom line is to make sure you have a truly waterproof rain jacket and pants for everyone.


If it is not currently raining, help folks stay dry when they sit on something wet by having them fold their rain jacket or pants into a pad. Make sure they put the outside of the garment on the wet object, keeping the inside dry for wearing later. If they just have a rain jacket and are wearing it, they can usually pull it down as far as possible over their gluteus maximus and then sit on it. Of course, they could also just put those rain pants on.


Remind yourself that it is just rain. Relax your shoulders and turn your face into it. Enjoy a natural phenomenon and be in harmony with it. You will get no wetter. (Credit for this idea to Tom Robbins in Still Life With A Woodpecker)

Teach about the rain

Let the lessons come to you when it is raining. Animal tracking, watershed studies, erosion, water cycle, deposition, and amphibians all become even more authentic topics in the rain. Branching out from the natural world, building shelters, dams and boats can make science and engineering come to life as well. Even the act of gearing up could become a lesson on surface area, heat loss and physiology. Turn your lesson to the rain as well as your face!

Batten down

Recognize right away when it starts raining and stop for a moment to allow everyone to pull up their hood and zip their zipper. Don’t wait to see if it will get worse–it just did! You are either getting your base layers wet or you are not, so choose not. Many folks think their raingear leaks when it really is just operator error!

Use the drip line

Trees stay dry underneath to varying degrees. Know the species in your area and head to the best ones for an instant shelter. Even if you don’t know the trees where you are, one good indicator is dry ground or a dry trunk on one side. My favorite is currently Western red cedar, what is yours?

Heads lose 45% of your heat…

…so claimed a U.S. Army field manual from the 50’s, and the lore took off from there. While more recent studies put this at actually 7 to 10 percent (close to the head’s 9% of total body surface area), it is worthwhile to note that the head is usually the least clothed part of the body. Comfort equals focus, so get a warm hat on and perhaps some gloves too.


Make sure the backpack contents stay dry by lining them with a trash bag, splurging for a $5 pack cover, or simplest of all, putting the backpack on first and then the rain jacket over it and the person. Also be vigilant for an “inside job,” where the water bottle leaks onto everything. Prevent this by testing it–inverting the bottle and squeezing before considering putting it inside the pack. Planning ahead for your backpack as well as your body doubles your dryness.


They are lightweight and cheaper all the time, so bring one along on the rainy days and take a few moments to be out of the precipitation at lunch or for a longer lesson. As a bonus, you have something to play games with, a hypothermia wrap, and a picnic blanket when the rain stops. What other tips do you have for teaching in the rain?

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Camping With a Large Group

As an outdoor educator, please allow me to share some general guidelines for camping with a large group of approximately 30-40 of your closest friends /associates. I’ve done this many, many times and have the scars to prove it. Group Camping
Unfortunately, you/I cannot take a large group anywhere with any kind of spontaneity. Especially when your chosen destination is in close proximity to a major metropolitan area. So you need to realize these genius ideas sooner!

Having said that, your choice of venue is important. If you like it, chances are everyone else will like it as well. Whatever you do, always try to visit an area first. There is also a large disparity of experience in groups so it’s important to plan ahead for the “newbies”. One can only do that with an in-person visit.

Speaking of the “newbies”, they are the big determining factor in your outing’s success. If they have a good time, so will everyone else. People get turned on to people getting turned on in the woods. So your inclination toward more developed facilities is well founded. Nobody ever learned to fly by pushing them off a cliff. So let’s take it one step at a time with them. In the long run, if your less experienced attendees are comfortable and confident, they will want more. They will also regard you as the man who provided that comfort and confidence so it will be much easier the next time around.

Okay, you planned ahead (in Fl peak camping season is late Oct to early May), chose the perfect venue (state parks can fill up  – up to a year in advance for in season and holidays), and everyone’s ready to go. How do we foster those feelings in our whole group? Let’s address comfort first. I’ll get right to the point. The bathroom facilities have to be CLEAN. If the venue is unable / unwilling to help with that, someone in your “advance party” has to do it. Otherwise you will be doing it yourself. Unfortunately this has to be done if you want to see these “newbies” again.

Obviously, good food is another aspect and I won’t waste your time with it. Information is a great comfort as well. Like, “how cold will it be?” is always a popular subject. Studying the weather reports for the altitudes you expect will be important.
Many do not need much for comfort but the top three items to consider are:

  1. great food
  2. comfortable sleeping temperatures
  3. A clean place to relieve oneself.

    Now for the confidence….Confidence comes from involvement. No one expects you or anyone else to entertain the “newbies”. They must be involved in setting up, taking down, cooking, recreational choices, etc.

    Also, you will want to schedule activities that inspire confidence. For instance, I know many people fear getting lost. I also know many women not only fear getting lost, but they may not be interested in looking at a compass or map either. Other concerns are bugs, snakes, bears – having someone along that can help instruct on the basic behaviors of the native wildlife is a plus!

    Take a poll of your more experienced people and see what they’d be willing to teach. First aid? Outdoor primitive cooking? Make it informal. If you can teach someone how to get along in the woods, they’ll feel much more confident. They’ll love the woods like you do too.

    A little advance planning (create a pre-trip organizational checklist. Create individual checklists for your group too) and remembering comfort and confidence will create lots of good will. Just avoid activities that are obviously team-builder-y. People are getting wise. Create camaraderie instead. It builds stronger teams.

Not a Clue Adventures provides all the gear, instruction, meals and activities for groups from 2 – 50. We are Central Florida’s First Choice for Concierge Camping Services and Guided Backpacking. Let us do all the work or teach you to do it on your own. We provide all the equipment, meals and guided activities to make your outdoor experience a positive one! We also offer guided birding, kayaking, hunting trips and Eco-Tours.

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Dialogue Between A Boy And The Brain Coral

This is a wonderful story of a beach visit by father and son. Touching commentary by the father clearly states why we must preserve and protect our natural places.

This Man's Journey

While making a quiet dialogue with Nature, my son called me, “Hey, dad. Look, it’s a brain.” As he pushed the dead coral away from the water, he started to talk to it.

Boracay Philippines

He was a bit far from me and I couldn’t hear what he was saying. Looking at him and the coral, it looked as if the coral was trying to tell him a story. May be it was telling him how he died and lost his home. How from the years of unchecked, careless, insensitive greed and tourism, he and his community were slowly driven to near extinction. A sad tale that is still happening this very second around the world.

Boracay Philippines

The next words I heard my son spoke was, “Dad, I’m making him a house,” as he covered the coral with sand.”

Boracay Philippines

Then he said, “Now, I’m making a home,” as he carefully added more sand details…

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Brown Bagging It

Whether you are going back to school or heading out with the kids for a hike a bag lunchBrown Bagging It may come in handy. Below you will find 20 unique upgrades to the brown bag lunches of the past! Do you have one you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!

1. Pasta Salad Bag

cooked pasta
small chunks of cheese
quartered pepperoni slices/turkey
ziploc bag
diced red and green peppers, shredded carrots
salad dressing pack
plastic fork

2. Mediterranean Pita Pocket
fill a pita pocket with falafel balls ( Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.) or hummus (store bought comes in many flavors).
fresh spinach leaves
Cucumber slices

3. Fruit & Cheese Bag
Fill divided container with assorted cubes/slices of cheese
easy to eat fruit slices (apples, pears, grapes, berries, etc)
whole wheat crackers

4. Peanut Butter Fun Bag (you can use sunflower butter or almond butter as well if there are allergy issues to avoid.)
Spoon 2 tbs of nut butter into a snack sized bag/or reuseable container
whole wheat crackers or pita pocket
Raw vegies such as celery, zucchini or jicama sticks (Jicama, also known as yam bean, is a very low calorie root vegetable)
Popsicle stick or plastic knife to spread butter

5. Everything is Better on a Bagel Bag
1 regular or 2 mini bagels
tuna or lean lunch meat
onion/tomato/pickle slices
romaine/spinach/ lettuce or sprouts
mustard packet

6. Rabbit Bag (salad)
Fill plastic container with items for a:
Cobb salad
spinach or chopped dark green lettuce
chopped or sliced boiled egg
light cheese, and or lean ham or turkey
Chinese chicken salad
dark salad greens
shredded chicken
shredded carrots
sliced green onion
toasted sliced almonds

7. It’s a Wrap Bag
Wraps are a nice change of pace from the usual sandwich.
multigrain flour tortilla.
Spread on mustard, hummus, light salad dressing, or green or sundried tomato pesto.
Fill with:
chicken Caesar salad
assorted lean meats and/or cheese
tomato, sliced onion, and shredded Romaine lettuce
Just roll it up and wrap in foil.
Kids can eat it like a burrito — by unwrapping it on one end and working their way down.

8. Fun Fried Rice Bag
When made with eggs, tofu or chopped lean meat, and lots of veggies, cold fried rice can be a satisfying noontime treat. Make your own using brown rice. Or set some aside for the next day when you get take-out Chinese food for dinner.

9. Muffin Mania Bag
Muffins can add flavor and flair to a bag lunch. If you bake them ahead and keep them in the freezer, you just have to pull out one or two in the morning. By lunch, they’ll be soft and ready to eat.
There are a few tricks to improving the health value of muffin recipes. Substitute in whole-wheat flour for at least half of the flour in recipes that call for white flour. Incorporate other whole grains when possible. Add in summer fruits such as berries or peaches or vegetables like corn or grated zucchini, when appropriate. You can also cut back on the sugar called for in a recipe when you add in fruit. Switch in smart fats (such as canola or olive oil), when possible, and reduced saturated fat options (such as reduced fat cheese).
fruit slices

10. Tasty Spanakopita Triangles
These spinach-filled filo puffs are vegetarian finger food that’s fun to eat. Some stores carry frozen spanakopita that can be baked in the morning or the night before and packed in bag lunch.
fruit cup (spoon) or slices

11. Going Natural Bag
Squeeze pack of apple/fruit sauce or make you own by spooning into a ziploc bag (trim corner when ready to eat and squeeze out)
Nuts (almonds, pistachios, sunflower, peanuts, walnuts)
Cheese sticks
Dried fruit/granola/ healthy snack bar

12. Pizza in a Pita Bag
Pita pocket
shredded cheese
pepperoni or ham slices
sliced toppings (green pepper, mushrooms, pineapple
Small amount of spaghetti sauce or marineria sauce (container or ziploc snack bag)

13. BBQ Chicken Lunch for 2
Foil pack of cooked chicken (can be found in tuna aisle)
Pita or lettuce leaves
BBQ Sauce
plastic knife or fork
Fruit slices/pickle wedges
14. Ham and Cheese Me Bag
ham slices
cheeses slices
lettuce leaves
take 1 slice each with lettuce being 1st layer and roll-up
optional – pickle wedge (tasty addition to be rolled up in center)

15. Egg me on Bag
2 hard boiled eggs
couple slices or cubes of cheese lean lunch meat
Whole wheat crackers

16. Taco Treat Bag
1 bag Fritos
1-2 packets taco sauce (Taco Bell always hands out too many to use with your meal)
shredded lettuce, diced onions, diced tomatoes ( you can get already prepared in most grocery store produce departments)
shredded cheese
plastic fork

17. BLT Wrap Bag
couple slices pre-cooked turkey bacon
thinly sliced or diced tomato
lettuce leafs
wrap bacon and tomato in lettuce as roll up
Optional serve in pita or with whole wheat crackers or bagel

18. Veggie Delight Bag
bean sprouts
sliced avocado
diced or sliced tomato, onions, salsa
Pita, lettuce leaves or tortillas
19. Chickpea Delight Bag
diced tomatoes
cubed cheeses of choice
arugula, spinach or chopped romaine
Greek dressing packet
whole wheat crackers

20. Elvis Bag
2 tbs nut butter (peanut, almond, sunflower) in container or snack bag
banana slices
whole wheat pita pocket/bagel or bread of choice
plastic knife

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A Life Without Restrictions; A Life Without Fear!

You must step outside of your comfort zone and experience adventure for yourself. No one else can do this for you! I hope you have an adventure you can share with others! #NOREGRETS

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Eating Well on the Trail

Preparing Backpacking Meals

Backpacking meals

Steak bites, green beans, tomatoes and mashed potatoes made a great meal on the trail!

Don’t be lazy! Pre-packaged meals hold little to no nutritional value, you’re not doing yourself any favors by been cheap with your time; they do not fill you up very much either. Also, the meal aspect of a trip can take a crappy trip and make it exceptional… cooking on the trail is one of my favorite topics and things to do!

If hiking regularly you can prepare double portions of certain meals, dehydrate them, package them and keep in the freezer until it was needed. However, there are still great meals you can plan that don’t require huge preparation:

Pasta, just add some roasted red pepper spice with some sun-dried tomatoes – easy and tasty (I usually add some onion and bell peppers).

Vegetarian Chili – 1 cup red lentils, cumin, garlic, onion, chili powder and oregano, beef bullion, plus 6-12 sun dried tomatoes. Add 3 cups water on the trail, simmer for 10-15 minutes. (yummy even if you are a meat eater!).

Shepherds Pie (oh yeah!). Pre cook ground beef then dehydrate. rehydrate with enough water to cover the dried beef and bring to a boil and sit… I usually add a package of gravy with extra water. next make some instant mashed potatoes, i also add some vegetables of some sort (few fresh carrots diced and blanched or rehydrate a vegetable mix.). Next portion out the meat mixture, next the veg and top with instant mash potatoes. Top with cheese (optional) and enjoy.

Breakfast: Hard cheeses pack well with melba toast. Also try some Bulgar wheat, soak in water bottle over night with onion/garlic powder, cumin, and oregano (maybe some chili powder), salt/pepper, saute in a pan and add sharp cheddar cheese – saute until cheese is melted and blended.

For desserts, make instant chocolate pudding (use powdered milk) in a zip-lock bag, crumble oreo cookies in the pudding and eat from the bag.

Looking for a real treat, bring good chocolate with a tester bottle of triple sec/amaretto place in a small pan, place the small pan in a larger pan with water, bring to a boil and when the chocolate melts you have chocolate fondue. (what you’ve made is a double boiler). Bring biscuits or apples to dunk.

Be inventive on the trail, it really impresses the people you are hiking with and if you are in a place with other parties at a campsite, you make them jealous and they view you as a back-country culinary expert!

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Empathy and Conservation

Cricket Frog

The great gift of being human is that we have the power of empathy, we can all sense a mysterious connection to all that surrounds us.

em·pa·thy (ˈempəTHē) / noun – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. “In empathy we feel what we believe are the emotions of another, which makes it both affective and cognitive by most psychologists.[7] In this sense, arousal and empathy promote prosocial behavior as we accommodate each other to feel similar emotions. For social beings, negotiating interpersonal decisions is as important to survival as being able navigate the physical landscape.[21] Emotions motivate individual behavior that aids in solving communal challenges as well as guide group decisions about social exchange.” “Empathy promotes pro social relationships, helps mediate aggression, and allows us to relate to others, all of which make empathy an important emotion among children.”Source: Wikipedia This week there has been a lot of talk on social media about the 2 young girls in Florida who tried not once but twice to burn a turtle alive and when unsuccessful stomped it to death. They posted the video to facebook and may now face multiple charges (Warning: Graphic Video). There are stories of abuses to dogs, cats, horses, snakes and so many other living creaters I could not event attempt to list them all Sadly, this is not the first case of cruelty to be brought to our attention. Laws to protect animals go back to 1868 in the USA and 1641 in Europe. ” British philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) argued, in Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), that animals did have feelings, and that unnecessary cruelty toward them was morally wrong, but that the right not to be harmed adhered either to the animal’s owner, or to the human being who was being damaged by being cruel. Discussing the importance of preventing children from tormenting animals, he wrote: “For the custom of tormenting and killing of beasts will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men.”[27]  Source: Wikipedia


“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” ― Roger Ebert

In our modern world of technology we are separated further from nature than at any time in the history of the human race. Few young person’s can relate the hamburger or chicken fingers on their plate came from a living being. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a vegetarian – not even close. I am an avid outdoors woman. I hunt and fish, not for trophies or for “fun” but to fill my freezer with quality, organic meat. The first grocery store (as we know it ) did not open until 1916, less than 100 years ago. But I stray from our subject… Back in time when many children were raised in a more agricultural surrounding they learned firsthand an at an early age the circle of life from the animals in their care. They understood that on the farm the animals were tended to first. They experienced the harsh realities of life and death and even the subject we all want to avoid, they learned about sex/mating/breeding – however you want to word it. In our current world fewer and fewer children experience any of these natural process. Environmental Sciences in some classrooms is not even a “credit course” any longer. The connections between humans and nature seem to be taught to our children less and less. I wonder what it will be like 2 generation into the future? If we do not take the time now to connect our children, the children of this generation to the natural world, who else will? If they have no connect to the streams and wildflower and wildlife, will they vote to protect these places as we have done, or will our world piece by piece become a barren, desolate landscape?

Hummingbird Feeding Young

“As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves.”
― Martha C. Nussbaum

We must nurture this connection between nature and our children. I am not saying all children should be taught to hunt and fish. But they should all understand the basic principles of land and wildlife management. How nature works, the only way they can learn this is first hand, through personal experience. You do not have to travel halfway across the country to accomplish this – you just have to start at your local park or zoo. Who has not felt a twinge of guilt looking at a magnificent creature at a zoo. Talk about this with your children. Why is the animal here? Is it facing extinction? Is it part of a breeding program? Give them the opportunities to make life long connections. I remember when my daughter was young I took her to the Jacksonville Zoo, of all the animals there, she made a connection with an ostrich. We talked for weeks after that trip about that bird. She got books from the school library on them and that sparked her interest in other animals. It only takes a spark… Connecting to other living creatures will lead to connections to their natural habitats. A person that can experience empathy feels a great loss when a supermarket chain comes in and builds a new store, paving over tunneling Gopher Tortoise (because it is cheaper to pay the fine than to have them relocated) or when they read a story about yet another dolphin or sea turtle that dies from ingesting plastic or is entangled in fishing line or fishnets.


“seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
― Alfred Adler

Connecting to the creature and their habitat leads to the desire, the NEED, to make sure that these places are monitored and protected. The empathy we experience carries through to action, to conservation. It is the works we do that in the end connect us in even a stronger way to all that surrounds us. Through volunteering, experiencing and learning more about all that surrounds us and taking proper care to manage the wildlife, in these ever decreasing natural spaces, we can ensure that our children get to experience a piece of what we grew up loving. We can raise more caring children. No one enjoys being around the self-centered, uncaring individual who has no regard for others around them, let us not raise our children to be that person. Let us raise our children to “Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace“. Be part of the “10 million Kids Outdoors”  or “Take Me Fishing” movement. Get your girlfriends together for a BOW workshop.  Aid returning soldiers on a outdoors adventure with Freedom Hunters, Hunters Helping Soldiers or Wounded Warriors Projects (nothing heals the soul like time spent in nature). Get connected, set down the cell phones, tablets and gaming devices.  Get connected to the natural circle of life. Help your children understand that the games they are playing are not what real life is. Take them to a farm, a park, Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon – anywhere – just get them outside.  Walk, run, PLAY with them, ask questions, be silent, and listen to them.

Squirt the pig

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France

The first connection needs to be made with you.  You must feel empathy on even a most basic level to teach it. It is up to us to make sure we will leave the world a better place for our grand-children and the generations to follow. Unsure how to get started experiencing the outdoors in a safe and enjoyable manor, give us a call! At Not a Clue Adventures we are there for you. We provide guided outdoor adventures, gear and activities that will get you and your family connected to the outdoors. We cater to all skill levels. From a single family to social gatherings, let us help you learn more about the wonderful outdoor resources we have here in Central Florida!

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