Tag Archives: outdoor

Give a Little Bit: Charitable Holiday Activities

‘Tis the Season for Giving! Below are two ways that we gave back this month.

For our annual holiday get-together, Meredith, Kristi, our dear friend Col and I meet up for a fun activity, a meal and gift exchange. Sometimes the activity is a round of wine tasting. (OK, who are we kidding, most of the time it’s wine tasting!)

However, this year we opted for an afternoon tea and an evening of holiday card making. By the end of the craft session, we made two dozen festive cards, which were then bundled up and sent to Cards for Hospitalized Kids, a charitable organization headquartered in Illinois that “spreads hope, joy & magic to hospitalized kids across America through uplifting, handmade cards.”

The website has simple guidelines for card-making; for example, while it’s fine for some holiday cards to say “Merry Christmas,” the organization also recommends phrases such as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” so that cards can be distributed to kids that do not celebrate Christmas. It was a fun way to unleash some crafty scrapbook-like skills for a great organization.


If this activity appeals to you, note that it can be done year-round! Cards for Hospitalized Kids accepts general cards with uplifting messages, as well as cards for other major holidays, and distributes those cards throughout the year.


For the gift exchange portion of the evening, I had asked my friends for toy donations for Toys for Tots. Finding a toy donation site was easy — all it took was filtering by location on the website. The guidelines for the types of items are quite vague, but generally speaking, the recommendation is to donate new, gender-neutral, unwrapped items. Also, items that work for older youth, such as a soccer ball, paint set or a board game, are usually in lower supply / higher demand.

My dear friends generously gifted board games and an outdoor daypack adventure kit. (Thank you very much!) The toys were dropped off at my local Toys R Us on December 13th.




If you’ve given back this holiday season, or at any other time of the year, we’d love to hear about it! We’re always on the lookout for more inspirational activities and ideas. Please leave a comment below. Happy Holidays!

10 Tips for River Rafting and Camping in the Grand Canyon: From My Camp to Yours

I just got back from an incredible adventure: 8 days of river rafting and camping in the Grand Canyon. Being a new rafter and camper, I did not know what to expect, so I did many Google searches prior to the trip. I found a lot of helpful guidelines and suggestions online that helped plan for the days ahead, but I also discovered over the 8 days some tips I wish I would have known before. So here is my list of tips…from my camp to yours.

July28_image11. Carabiners. Being the city girl I am, I previously did not know what a Carabiner even was, but I quickly found this little metal latching device to be essential. Bring plenty of extra Carabiners to secure backpacks, water bottles, life jackets and hats. I also used Carabiners to protect clothing that was drying overnight from flying away.

2. Small, lightweight backpack or daypack. Since most river rafting excursions limit personal belongings to dry bag (about the size of a Whole Foods paper bag), I recommend bringing a small backpack or daypack for the raft. There will likely be plenty of space to latch on (with your Carabiner!) a small backpack or daypack that will allow for access to items needed during the day. Pack the daytime needed essentials: camera, sunscreen, an extra layer of clothing, tissues, band-aids, Advil, flashlight, lip balm and hand moisturizer.

3. Aquaphor. Lotion and lip balm are necessary to combat the dry and hot weather. With many options available, I stood for at least 10 minutes in the moisturizer aisle of Target browsing the many options deciding which product was the best. I decided on Aquaphor and was grateful for my decision. I got the lotion and the lip balm and found these products to be very moisturizing and reparative for dry and cracked skin.

4. Ziploc bags. Ziploc bags are the most helpful for organizing personal belongings. I recommend rolling clothing in your Ziploc bags, and then squeezing all the excess air out (I reviewed Bri’s packing log for tips!). Bring double the number of recommended bags – not only will you use extras for storing wet/dirty clothing, but you will also want to replace broken bags.

5. Quick dry clothing. We got wet – really wet! I was so thankful to have clothing that dried quickly in the hot sun.

6. Soap and Shampoo. At the end of each day, your body will be covered with layers of sunscreen and sand, and while the idea of bathing in chilly 50 degree water will sound unappealing, do it. Trust me, you will feel like a new person afterwards. Pack a soap bar or body wash and shampoo (in a plastic Ziploc for easy access) and head to the river edge each night. Check with the company for restrictions on brands and products.

7. Camp Towel. After a chilly bathing experience you will want to wrap yourself in a camp towel. After browsing all the options, I decided on my Sea to Summit Tek Towel, and could not have been more pleased with my decision. This towel is small and compact and dries very quickly (it will likely be dry before you are done drying yourself off).

8. Thin rope. You never know when you will need to fashion a lean-to out of sticks and a tarp. I experienced one night of intense wind and another night of rain, and I was so grateful to be traveling with my Eagle Scout boyfriend who provided me with shelter each night by creating a make-shift tent out of sticks, rope and a tarp.

9. Waterproof bag for a camera. I debated for the month prior to the trip about purchasing a waterproof camera. On one hand I wanted to make sure I could document each wave of this adventure, but on the other, I was dismayed by the high cost of a one-time-use item. I settled on buying a waterproof bag for my non-waterproof camera and was happy with my decision. While I was unable to snap pictures going through rapids, I was able to take plenty of pictures while floating along the river. And ultimately, I was happier gripping on to the raft through the rapids (instead of having hands occupied) and I know that pictures will be shared from other passengers.

10. Footwear. Most companies and prior passengers will tell you about the merits of closed toe sandals, such as Keen’s. These are essential for rafting down the river and taking day hikes. I would suggest also packing a lightweight pair of flip-flops (I brought my Havaianas) for the campsite. My Keen’s were essential on the boat, but I did not want to be walking around camp in sand filled Keen’s at the end of the day.

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I hope you find these tips helpful as you prepare for your next outdoor adventure, and hope you will share your tips with me!