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Archive for April, 2014

5 Activities To Do With Your Children This Summer

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade

summer-activities-for-children

Summer for parents across the country can be both exhilarating and stressful. You look forward to spending more time with your kids but also want to make sure the time spent is fun for you too. It can be overwhelming to come up with creative ideas that will make the most of those three short months. Here are some ideas for summer activities that both parents and kids will enjoy doing together. Soon enough, September will roll around again leaving you with memories of a summer that will stay with your family for years to come.

1. Plant a garden together

Nothing gets parents and kids closer together than working on a project together. A project that will continue to grow and flourish, like an outdoor vegetable or flower garden, is a great start to building parent/child collaboration. Even kids as young as 3 or 4 can help out with garden activities like weeding and watering. Summer is a great time to start a garden with fruits and vegetables. Prepare the soil yourself and then decide what crops the two of you want to grow.

Watermelons, sunflowers, squash, and pumpkins are always a good idea. Plant seedlings or seeds as soon as school lets out and continue to water, weed, and fertilize throughout the season. Gardening is fun and creative, and encourages kids to enjoy fresh, healthy foods. You can even cook the food you grow for family meals. Gardening encourages a love of nature in children and teaches them to appreciate all the elements that work together to grow healthy food.

2. String up a hammock.

There’s no better way to relax and enjoy summer than swinging in a backyard hammock. Both kids and adults can spend lazy summer days napping, reading, and relaxing from the comfort of a hammock.

3. Go camping.

There are campsites and parks all over America that are great for exploring with kids. Camping is a great way to encourage a love of nature and a thirst for outdoor exploration. Beaches, mountains, deserts, and forests are all great locations for camping excursions, especially during the summer. Camping is relaxing and challenging. Camping has even been seen as a natural cure for insomnia. Eating, sleeping and relaxing in nature encourages self sufficiency and independence, and it can bring families closer together.

Taking time away from television, videogames, and the Internet can be challenging for some families but it’s also a great way to get back to the basics. Hiking, storytelling, swimming and other activities take the place of technological distractions when a family goes camping.

4. Make music.

Get kids together with guitars, drums, shakers, or whatever musical instrument they desire for an impromptu concert. Set up a stage in the backyard and invite friends and neighbors to watch the show. The event will surely be an event to remember.

5. Build a fort or clubhouse.

Take time to use materials at hand and your children’s creativity to build the fort of their dreams. A backyard clubhouse or treehouse will provide hours of fun, as well as fertile ground for creativity.

photo credit: Lauren Fritts via photopin cc

Outdoor Therapy Being Introduced To Returning Veterans

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Quik Shade

 outdoor-therapy-veterans

One of the biggest struggles for veterans returning home is dealing with stress and emotional trauma. New programs for outdoor activities are looking at how they can help alleviate some of that trauma.

Many veterans struggle with psychological issues upon returning home and aren’t get the attention and treatment they need for these issues. As more and more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, effectively treating both physical and mental issues for these veterans has once again gained attention in the national spotlight.

What Programs Are Available For Veterans?

Recreation and outdoor programs for veterans are being introduced to help improve psychological well being, social functioning, and general life outlook. Researchers are discovering that these types of activities are making an impact and that many veterans prefer outdoor activities to traditional clinical treatments.

Programs for veterans such as Returning WarriorsProject Healing Waters, and Wounded Warriors In Action are studying the effects of such activities on their participants. Physical activities include backpacking, canoeing, rafting, and fishing. The focus was kept on the activities themselves rather than their therapeutic effects. Agricultural activities were also made available by sponsorship of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. There were no formal practices such as therapy, medication, or psychological counseling included in the program.

Veterans Response To Outdoor Programs

Veterans were recruited and took surveys both before and after the program was completed. Each outdoor recreation program lasted between four and seven days. Most of the participants were male and between ages 30-49 years. They had mostly served in the military in the past 10 years or so. 54% of the participants said they suffered from mental issues on a daily basis and about 70% had been treated in the past for mental health or substance abuse issues.

After the program concluded, participants were once again given a survey where they were asked several questions and asked to respond on a five point scale. Some questions included “In the last few weeks, how often have you felt like your life had clear goals or purpose?” or “When confronted with a difficult situation how frequently do you try to look on the bright side of things?”. The questions were designed to assess any changes in psychological state, outlook on life, and general social functioning.

Program Deemed A Success

The outcome of the studies showed a significant change in these three areas after the program was completed. The success of the program can be attributed to the time spent in natural environments, challenging each participant on a personal level, and encouraging a sense of camaraderie with other veterans.

Further research is being done to assess the long term effects of such programs. In the mean time awareness of the issue is growing among Americans. In President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, he brought national attention to the challenges returning veterans have to face. Effectively managing the mental issues these veterans struggle with can help provide a smoother transition when returning home and to new routines.

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5 Tips To Beating The Heat This Summer

Posted on: April 13th, 2014 by Quik Shade

beating-summer-heat

Whether you love hot weather or wither away if temperatures go above 80, it’s important to know how to live with soaring temperatures this summer. Everyone is equally susceptible to heat stroke, sunburn, or dehydration. Knowing the right way to take care of yourself and loved ones will ensure that everyone will survive the summer and even enjoy it. Here are five tips for beating the heat and getting the most out of summer, no matter how hot it gets.

1. Create Shade And Be Vigilant About Sun Protection

Sun exposure is the biggest concern during summer. The best way to avoid burns or heatstroke is to limit time spent in direct sunlight. If that’s just not possible, there are some things you can do to remain protected. Wearing a high spf sunscreen provides great protection. Just to be sure to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.

Make sure all areas exposed to the sun are covered. It can be easy to overlook the scalp, nose, ears, or tops of feet. Wearing a hat and long sleeves helps too. Creating your own shade is another good way to make sure the sun doesn’t do damage. A portable canopy works great because it can go anywhere and can be set up and taken down so easily. These canopies are available in several sizes and styles, so you can choose the one that’s best for your lifestyle.

2. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is so common during the summer which is a shame because it can be so easily prevented. Bringing cool, fresh water along with you has become easier than ever. Refillable water bottles keep you hydrated and cut down on plastic use too. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible to dehydration, so make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water.

3. Protect Pets

Pets need to be cared for when temperatures soar too. Sun damage and dehydration can happen to pets just as easily, if not easier than with humans. Making sure your dog or cat has access to fresh cool water at all times will help them get through the summer heat. Sun protection for pets is something pet owners often forget. Cats and dogs, especially those with lighter colored furs, can get sunburned too. Make sure they have a shady, cool place to rest if they must stay outside.

4. Keep Your Home Cool

Air conditioning will definitely keep you cool, but if you don’t have ac there are other tips that can cool a home as well. Placing fans in front of windows or doors brings cool air in. Closing curtains or blinds on windows facing the sun keeps heat out and cool air in. Take advantage of cool night temperatures by opening windows and letting that cool air in with fans.

5. Limit Outdoor Activities

Playing sports or exercising in high temps is probably not a good idea, but if it must be done following some of the tips above will ensure you survive.

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Summer Plans: 5 Destinations A Canopy Will Be Handy

Posted on: April 12th, 2014 by Quik Shade

instant-canopy

Sun protection should be everyone’s biggest concern when summer comes rolling around. Nothing ruins outdoor fun more than a bad sunburn or worse, sunstroke. The long term effects from sun damage can be even more serious. No matter where you plan to spend time this summer, make sun protection a priority. Here’s how to use a canopy and other essentials in some of summer’s top destinations.

1. The Beach.

No trip to the beach is complete without plenty of high spf sunscreen and portable shade. Bringing a canopy along will provide a comfortable, shady spot to relax, eat, or just enjoy the scenery without having to worry about getting burned. Canopies are sturdy enough to stand up to windy beach conditions, as well as staying put on uneven ground. They’re also easy to set up and pack away with the rest of your beach gear. Enjoy the sun, sand, and waves without having to worry.

2. The Park.

Summer means more reasons to spend a day at the park for a party, barbeque, sports event, or just a relaxing time. But the long hours spent at these events can pose a serious risk to your skin. When you’re busy having fun socializing, hanging out or watching a game it can be easy to forget to reapply sunscreen. A portable canopy can solve all that. Smaller canopies are great for small gatherings and large canopies can provide shade for a whole party.

3. Camping Trips.

Serious campers know that having the proper gear can make all the difference on a trip. Along with a tent, food and campfire equipment, bug spray, and sleeping bags, having a portable canopy can make camping more comfortable and worry free. Setting up a canopy near your picnic and campfire area instantly creates a shady place for everyone to gather for meals and relaxation. Create a bug free zone under a canopy with citronella candles so everyone can enjoy their time without having to deal with pests.

4. Outdoor Markets And Festivals.

Summer means a there will be a plethora of outdoor events to attend. Music festivals, flea markets, farmer’s markets, and street fairs are just a sampling of the kinds of summer events that happen across the country. If you plan a selling or doing any kind of business at one of these events, you know that having a canopy is necessary.

Long days spent in the sun mean you need protect yourself, as well as your customers. Industrial sized canopies provide the protection and cool air circulation you need to survive an outdoor festival. Your customers will thank you for it too.

5. Your Backyard.

A canopy works well for simple backyard gatherings too. Even if you just want to simply relax, doing so under the shade of a canopy will keep you cool and protected. Pet canopies are great for the backyard too. Relax alongside your four legged friend without having to worry about a thing.

Best Beaches To Visit During The Off-Season

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Quik Shade

instant-shade-canopy

Planning your perfect beach getaway can be expensive and have you dealing with crowds. If you’re looking to save some dough, have the freedom to explore the beach stress free, and still have a great vacation in a beautiful location, check out these picks for best off season beaches.

1. Block Island, Rhode Island

This east coast island is packed with tourists during the summer, but in the autumn the weather is still pleasant and you can practically have the beach to yourself. Some of the summer attractions may not be open, but the island ferry is running several times a day and shops are open on the weekend. A handful of Block Island’s restaurants are open as well. Activities include hiking natural trails, renting a moped or bike to tour the area, or exploring 17 miles of lovely beaches.

2. Port Isabel, Texas

For a more mellow experience of this beach city, head over in the Fall. Port Isabel is the oldest city in Texas, so there is history in the air as well as waterfront accommodations, fine dining, and fun attractions. The Port Isabel lighthouse offers stunning views of the bay. For foodies, there’s the World Championship Shrimp Cook Off on November 4th to look forward to.  

3. Pink Sands, Harbour Island, Bahamas

For this well known destination, autumn marks the end of hurricane season and the best time to visit the island if you’re on a budget. High end resorts are open and more affordable. Enjoy a stay in a private cottage, dine on Caribbean fusion cuisine, and enjoy calming views of the Atlantic. Savvy vacationers who choose to visit in the months leading up to the high season can save as much as $750 a night at the island’s best hotel.

4. Pacifica, California

Autumn is the harvesting season for dungeness crab in the region and visitor’s can catch their own off the pier at Sharp Park Beach. All you need is your own equipment – there are no fees or licenses required. For hikers, there’s Milagra Ridge overlooking the Pacific and offering encounters with the area’s myriad of wildlife.

5. Sunset Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

The most popular of the island’s 125 beaches offers both surfers and tourists something to enjoy. November to February are the best months for surfing, and also for enjoying the spectacle. Waves can reach up to 20 feet high during these months, giving the most daring surfers a chance to break records.

6. Ingonish, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

For avid bird watchers and beginners, this is the place to spot the biggest variety of shorebirds. Stay at an oceanfront cottage and enjoy hiking, dining, and of course, birdwatching along the shore.

7. La Jolla Cove, California

The protected waters of the cove are home to some of the best spots for snorkeling and scuba diving. Underwater visibility is excellent and there are plenty of reefs, shipwrecks, and ocean canyons to explore. Luxurious oceanfront accommodations are nearby for rest and relaxation.

College Students Use Solar Power While Camping Out For Tickets

Posted on: April 10th, 2014 by Quik Shade

canopy-with-awning

And other homemade creative camping innovations.

A group of hardcore Duke basketball student fans, dubbed the Cameron Crazies, have made it a habit to camp out outside of the stadium months in advance to get the best seats for the game. The students who hold down the fort brave the cold and snow to spend nights outside with only port a potties for bathrooms, no running water, and limited access to electricity. The tradition has been going on for some time, with locals and other students becoming accustomed to seeing a field of tents outside the stadium year after year. Recently a new arrival to the scene caught everyone’s attention.

This tent is perfectly average in size and construction, it’s what’s connected to it that has people talking. A solar panel mounted on a pole and held up by an empty beer case is what’s so odd about it. Upon further investigation and after a conversation with one of its inhabitants, it appears that the solar panel was the brainchild of an engineering student who is one of the campers. The panel has given the tent’s inhabitants the ability to keep their air mattresses inflated, charge their smartphones and laptops so they may stay connected to the world while they camp, and even have light inside the tent throughout the night.

Solar Powered Tent

The solar powered tent is the only one at the camp so far, despite being the envy of many other campers outside Cameron Stadium. It has successfully brought a little more comfort into the students’ experience of roughing it for the sake of the sport they love.

If you’re not equipped with the skills needed to solar power your next camping excursion, there are other, simpler things you can do to create your own camping innovations.

Camping Tent

1. Create travel coffee bags by bundling coffee into filter bags and tying with dental floss. Make one for each person on the trip and pack enough for each meal.

2. Create romantic nighttime lighting with candle stakes. Push wax candles onto the tops of long wooden stakes and place around your campsite. Be sure they are away from tents or any other flammable objects.

3. Convert a laundry detergent dispenser into a handwashing station. Keeping clean while camping can be inconvenient. Invert a landry dispenser, fill with water, and place antibacterial soap nearby. You can even mount a roll of paper towels to the top of the dispenser with bungee cords for further convenience.

4. Dry and organize pots and pans by creating a hanging rack. This can be done by strapping a belt around a nearby tree trunk and attaching several hooks.

5. Make a delicious pancake breakfast by packing pancake mix into mason jars and bringing along shortening and dry milk to complete the recipe.

6. Skip the process of marinating your meat and place fragrant herbs on hot coals to infuse your barbeque with flavor.

5 Family Friendly Spring Break Destinations

Posted on: April 9th, 2014 by Quik Shade

family-friendly-spring-break

Spring break is fast approaching and as a parent, you may be wondering how to best spend the week with your family. Because the break is so short, you may feel pressured to come up with a vacation that will please the whole family and create a memorable, fun experience. It’s a great opportunity for family bonding, as well as letting go of stress. Here are five picks for family friendly destinations that may do just that.

1. Rancho de los Caballeros. Wickenburg, Arizona

To spend a week experiencing authentic cowboy life, spend your vacation at this Arizona dude ranch. It’s more comfortable and accommodating than an old school dude ranch, but still authentic enough to make the family feel like they’re truly in the wild west. There are activities throughout the day to keep every member of the family occupied.

There’s a morning kids’ club, swimming, hiking, crafting, sports, and fun scavenger hunts around the property. Parents can choose to spend time on their own while kids participate in age appropriate activities. Nighttime campfires and dinners can bring the family together or give parents some much needed romantic time.

2. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat Springs is the perfect destination for families who want to spend their vacation in the snow. For kids just learning how to play in the cold, the resort offers lessons for kids as young as 2-5 years old. Kids only slopes give them a safe, unintimidating place to practice their newly acquired skills with a wedge.

From then on they can begin to ski and snowboard. The whole family can enjoy their stay together in log cabins and teepees. A horse drawn sleigh can take family on rides through the picturesque Rockies. There are also natural hot springs for adults to let their worries melt away.

3. Kauai Surf School. Poipu Beach, Hawaii

At this school, it’s possible for any member of the family who knows how to swim to learn to surf too. Families can take lessons designed for beginners. Wipeouts are encouraged. Other group lessons are done with only for students to each instructor, so you receive individualized attention.

The nearby Hyatt resort is a family friendly fun land, with a huge pool complex that contain lagoons, waterslides, and more. There’s also a kids camp that offers endless fun cultural activities for when parents need some alone time.

4. Loews Coronado Bay. San Diego, California

San Diego has so much to offer for families on vacation. The nearby beach, numerous museums, zoo, and parks offer lots to see and explore.

The San Diego Zoo alone is worth a whole day’s excursion. Animals from around the globe and a safari experience must be experienced. The resort offers more family activities such as water sports, surfing, and gondola rides through their canals.

5. Kalahari Resort. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

Believe it or not, Wisconsin is home to one of the nation’s best water parks. The indoor water park at Kalahari offers 125,000 square feet of water slides, pools, rivers, and whirlpools. There’s even a water rollercoaster. There’s fun outside the water too with an amusement park.

photo credit: jahofker via photopin cc