Why Kids Should Spend More Time Outdoors

I think everyone would agree the majority of kids these days don’t spend enough time outside. Most people can remember spending all summer long outdoors. I know I didn’t even want to go inside to eat lunch or supper. From sunrise until sunset, or later if I could convince my parents, I would be outside. I lived in town and I found plenty of ditches to climb in, railroad tracks to balance on and backyard trees to climb.  We played on jungle gyms, swam in pools, threw frisbees and used our imagination to come up with a number of other fun activities.  It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as we were outside.

We all know there are many benefits to spending time outdoors. Improving ones mental health is probably the most noted benefit of spending time with nature. Improved mood, reduced stress, better ability to concentrate and increased happiness are some pretty good reasons to get outside. But it turns mental health isn’t the only benefit. Spending time playing outside can help kids stay healthier, have fewer sensory issues, improve their balance and help their eyesight.

Better immune systems

It turns out playing in the dirt can not only reduce anxiety but it can also help the immune system and brain development. According to an article I read, “Our increasingly sterile environments filled with hand sanitizer and germ-phobias has limited the variety of skin microbiome in adults and children. So kids are cleaner…the problem? A diverse skin microbiome benefits the human immune system, and without that diversity, you have increased risk for illness, disease, and other medical issues such as asthma.”

Fewer Sensory Issues

I read an article by Angela Hanscom(a Pediatric occupational therapist) who notes a dramatic increase in children being referred to occupational therapists for sensory issues. “As we continue to decrease children’s time and space to move and play outdoors,” Hanscom writes, “we are seeing a simultaneous rise in the number of children that are presenting with sensory deficits.”

Better Balance

Hanscom also notes, “Underdeveloped vestibular systems are more common in children with less exposure to the outdoors. The Vestibular system is responsible for the ability to balance.  In other words, they have decreased body awareness and sense of space. Teachers are reporting that children are falling out of their seats in school, running into one another, pushing with more force during games of tag, and are generally clumsier than in years past. In fact, the more we restrict and coddle our children, the more unsafe they become.”

Better Eyesight

A google search on eyesight and time spent outdoors will give you a lot of reading material. All of the results from studies show the more natural light kids receive the lower their chance of nearsightedness. Research shows there has been an increase in the percentage of Americans ages 12-54 who are suffering from myopia(nearsightedness) over the past 45 years. The number has increased from 25 percent in early 1970 to 41.6 percent today.

From an article I found,  “Dr. Christopher Starr, an ophthalmologist from Weill Cornell Medical College, suggests one to three extra hours per day should be spent outside. This is in addition to school recess time. Dr. Starr explains that dopamine, a known inhibitor of eye growth whose release is stimulated by light, prevents elongation of the eye. Lack of dopamine results in the eye becoming more elongated, resulting in nearsightedness.”

I encourage you to find some kids and take them outside to play. Show them how much fun spending time outside can be and you’ll all benefit.

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Palisade Head on the North Shore

What a tragedy. A 14-year old girl fell off of the cliff at Palisade Head on Sunday afternoon. Palisade Head is about 5 miles northeast of Silver Bay before the turn off to Highway 1. It’s part of Tettegouche State Park and you can drive up to the top of the cliff that towers over 300 feet above Lake Superior. There’s a great view of the lake and of Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park in the distance.

Bystanders attempted to perform first aid after rapelling down the cliff.  She was then transported by Life Link to a hospital but she did not survive. It’s not the first fatality at Palisade Head. The last one occurred in 2010 when a woman from Hermantown, MN slipped off of the cliff and died.

Standing a few feet from the edge of the cliff you get a great view and it’s a lot safer than standing a few inches from the edge for the same view. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the 14-year old whose life ended way too soon.


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Beautiful Weekend on the Gunflint Trail

Canoe campers and visitors to the Gunflint Trail this past weekend were treated to wonderful weather. While the sun may not stay out as long as it does during June it sure warms things up when it’s out in full force. This weekend the sun was a constant in the sky making the beautiful blue water’s surface sparkle. I wish I had been lucky enough to be out camping to enjoy the temperatures in the high 60’s during the daytime and mid 40’s at night. The water temperature is still great for a quick dip and the bugs are nonexistent. Combine that with the waning full moon and show of northern lights on Friday night and the weekend was as close to perfect as it can get.

Thanks for the photos David Johnson!

Northern Lights dancing in the sky

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Bull Moose around Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

Our guests and crew have been spotting a bull moose lately. There were tracks in the parking lot the other morning and Matt saw him swimming in the rapids of the Seagull River.

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Boundary Waters Peace and Quiet?


Boundary WAters Canoe Area

BWCA Campsite

I sometimes wonder how silence can be so welcoming to some and not to others. I find it wonderful to be away from vehicle alarms, horns, sirens, traffic and chatter. When it’s noisy it interrupts my connection to the natural world. If I can’t hear the wings of a bird flapping overhead or the leaves rustling in the trees it is as if I can no longer hear. Natural sounds help quiet my mind.


It’s difficult to get away from noise. Even in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park you can sometimes hear planes overhead or the distant buzz of a motorboat. When camping you encounter other paddlers and campers who may not value silence as much as you do.

The Boundary Waters and Quetico Park both have rules and regulations to ensure a quiet environment. The BWCA regulations emphasize this on their video and on the permit itself. Number 6 on the permit says, “EXPLAIN THE NINE PERSON RULE AND THE FOUR WATERCRAFT RULE No more than 9 people can be together at any place in the Wilderness-on the water, on portages or in camp. Smaller groups have less impact on the land and other visitors and are more likely to see wildlife.” Number 11 on the BWCA permit says, “A QUIET CAMPER IS A NO-TRACE CAMPER. WHY? Noise impacts other people’s solitude and scares off wildlife.” #13 involves dogs in the wilderness and the impact their barking can have on the experience of others. The rules are enforceable Forest Service regulations with a maximum penalty of $5000 and/or 6 months in jail.

BWCA from the Gunflint Trail

Beautiful Pines

While I don’t necessarily think the USFS should fine a person $5000 for playing an accordion in the middle of a canoe paddling across a Boundary Waters lake I do think it would be nice if I would never see it again.

Yes, on a recent canoe camping trip in the Boundary Waters there was a canoe with 3 people in it and one person was playing the accordion as they paddled past. They were with a group of 9 guys. Another group of 9 girls paddled past singing some Disney tune at what had to have been the top of their lungs. It was more like screaming than singing and it was very loud. When my friends and I heard and saw these things we were shocked to say the least. After our lunch break we paddled over to a portage where the shock continued. There were two groups of 9 girls at the portage at the same time!

Boundary Waters Leave No Trace

accordion player

I do know how difficult it is to travel quietly with a group of girls. I battled with it myself when I took a group of teenagers into the BWCA. The more girls there are the louder they feel they have to be in order to compete. I explained until I was literally red in the face with smoke coming out of my ears how they needed to respect the wilderness values. It wasn’t fair to the people around them who wanted peace and quiet. It was the first and last time I took a group of kids into the wilderness. A better place to take them would have been to a State Park or campground where they could be a little bit noisy.

The groups of canoes and people we encountered during our camping trip were from a college. They were out on a freshman orientation trip which I think is a great idea. What a wonderful way to start a new chapter in one’s life. I realize the guides weren’t adults and they can only exert so much control over the members. They could make it a policy to ask students to leave loud noise making instruments at home. They could also do a better job teaching them about wilderness values and perhaps they would stop singing so loudly.

Is this a case of a generational difference? Where kids these days can’t stand the sound of silence? Where they are so accustomed to radios blasting, vehicle noise and notifications of text messages buzzing that they can’t handle being in a quiet environment?

I sure hope that isn’t the case. Where would these individuals get their inner peace from if it doesn’t involve somewhere quiet? I know I will always need peace and quiet and I hope others will embrace and appreciate it as much as I do, especially when they are in the Boundary Waters.

Boundary Waters camping trip

Boundary Waters Sunset



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Awesome Boundary Waters Trip


BWCA canoe trip

Photo by Van

It’s so nice to get these kind of emails from our guests. We love it when happy campers send us photos from their trip or emails with highlights of their trip.  Feel free to send yours our way!


Subject: Awesome trip

My son and I were guest of yours a few weeks ago.  We spent the night before

we got on the water in one of the bunk houses then 4 days 3 nights camping

then another night in a bunk house.  From the moment we arrived we both felt

welcomed and appreciated.  Everyone had a smile and was extremely helpful.

We couldn’t have asked for a better route then what Matt suggested.

Unbelievable beauty, better fishing than I ever dreamed of.  We caught over

200 smallmouth in 4 days.  Thanks to all of you for making this the trip of

a lifetime.  We will be back.  


Photo by Van


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Kadunce River Interpretive Trail

If you haven’t been reading the stories about our Kadunce River experience then this blog won’t make too much sense. Either skip reading it or go back and read the other three blogs first.


Hiking Kadunce River


The overwhelming feeling of embarassment I first felt is slowly being replaced by a sense of pride. I’m especially proud of Abby and Chloe and how amazing they were in that situation. If I ever have to be stranded anywhere again I hope it’s with the two of them. Why be embarassed at all? People have perceptions that aren’t necessarily accurate. I know that isn’t my problem but it does affect me. I don’t claim to be a wilderness wonder woman yet I think there are people who think I do. Those people are probably laughing at me and thinking, “Ha, Ha, she had to be rescued.”


Why be embarassed at all? People have perceptions that aren’t necessarily accurate. I know that isn’t my problem but it does affect me. I don’t claim to be a wilderness wonder woman yet I think there are people who think I do. Those people are probably laughing at me and thinking, “Ha, Ha, she had to be rescued.”

You know how sometimes it’s easier to make fun of people who you think are confident or cocky?  Well, just so you know I’m not a very confident person and I make a ton of mistakes in all aspects of my life. Although I recently read there is no such thing as a mistake if you learned something from it.  Is that true? I don’t know.

Hiking the north shore

Super Girls

I do know I learned a lot along the way and I’m glad for the experience.  Am I still embarrassed? Sure, but I’m also proud.

I am not one to ask other people for help. I hate to inconvenience people. I like to do things on my own and for myself. For me to sit back and be rescued was a BIG DEAL! I think what makes the entire experience better is knowing we all learned something that day.

The first thing I hope the girls learned is that I had just as much confidence in their ability to hike and climb the waterfalls as I did with the boys. I didn’t doubt they could make it all of the way up and out of the river. The fact the water level prevented us from doing so was beyond our control. Them knowing it was “OK” to turn back and me not pressuring them to continue in order to “save face” or prove something was never on the table. There was no shaming or ridicule involved and no one was made to feel inadequate or not capable.

At one point I asked them what they would have done if I hadn’t been there. Abby said, “I probably wouldn’t have even made it past the 2nd waterfalls without you to help me up so I wouldn’t be stuck.” I think Abby would have made it up on her own and I’m not sure if they would have attempted to climb the last waterfalls up and out or if they would have attempted to climb the waterfall back down where we were at. Whether or not that is true I think we all learned to evaluate situations and make good decisions.

LAke SUperior hiking trails

Happy Trails


We didn’t risk falling at the last waterfall, we didn’t attempt to scale the canyon walls, we stayed in one place and we stayed together.

We knew we needed to get outside help so we immediately began yelling for help. We didn’t wait for someone else to just happen upon us but we actively screamed until we secured help. We waited patiently, remained calm and kept a positive attitude the entire time. We didn’t blame each other or get mad or have a breakdown.

I’m sure the girls have learned as I have, how much the community we live in cares about all of us. In a small town news travels fast and with teens involved and Social Media I think everyone knew about our adventure before we even made it home. So many people have texted or told me how they prayed for us and were worried for our safety and how happy they were to know we were all fine. It’s nice to know how caring our community is and even though you may not have direct relationships with some people it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. It was surprising to me that people cared that much.

I know I make fun of people on my blog and I will continue to make fun of people on my blog. I criticize folks for getting into dangerous situations and for putting rescuers in danger. I am sorry I had to inconvenience everyone and I am grateful no one got hurt. I put myself in risky situations every time I solo hike, paddle or camp and I’ll continue to do those activities. Accidents and mishaps can happen anywhere, anytime and not having too much pride to call for help when you need it is a good thing.

As a number of people have said, “What a great story to tell.” It is a great adventure story with two great girls. I was able to go hiking with them and spend quality time together in the woods. We learned a lot of things along the way and best of all it was a story with a happy ending.


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Kadunce River Rescue

When we finally heard voices we were ecstatic and relieved. We couldn’t hear what they were saying very well over the loud sound of the waterfall but we were able to communicate to them that we needed to be rescued. We let them know it wasn’t an emergency and we were all injury free. We asked them to call 911 and have Search and Rescue dispatched.

Hiking on the North Shore Minnesota

Our next meal had we not been rescued


While screaming and scanning the canyon walls for places I might be able to scale I never once thought we would have to spend the night there. Maybe it was wishful thinking but in any case I wasn’t prepared to do so. Normally I have my backpack that I take every time I go camping, paddling or hiking. Inside of it I have an emergency blanket, rain poncho, rope, duct tape, fire starter, bug spray, sunscreen, water treatment pills, toilet paper, signaling device, compass, lip balm, small first aid kit, bandana, whistle and more. However, on this particular day I had held that backpack in my hands and then at the last minute decided to grab a larger one so I had room for the 6-pack of beer and I left my companion backpack at home.

We were wet and a bit chilled because the sunshine doesn’t reach into the canyon. That didn’t affect the spirits of Abby or Chloe. They had a great attitude, remained calm and even made a little home for us with a bedroom, kitchen, bath tub and bathroom. They captured hilarious footage of themselves with my camera and made our time stranded seem like we were just hanging out for the day.

Highway 61 hiking trails

Two Thumbs Up Even BEFORE rescuers heard us!

Confident in our guardian angels we celebrated our good fortune and settled in to wait for the Search and Rescue to arrive. We ended up waiting longer than we thought we would have to because our angels met up with Mike on the trail. They relayed the information we had given them and he wanted to know the exact location we were at and our situation before calling for help.

Mike isn’t one to ask for help and there are very few situations he can’t figure out a solution for on his own. He wasn’t about to have the Search and Rescue team come out for something he could accomplish on his own. They led him to where we were and he yelled down to us. Again, we couldn’t hear what he was saying over the sound of the falls. We confirmed we were all physically fine but we couldn’t make it down the falls. I tried to explain that he should walk up the river to talk with us and maybe help us down himself. Unfortunately I didn’t get the message across but he did make the call to Search and Rescue.

hiking the north shore of lake superior

Amazing Attitudes and GREAT girls


I don’t know the exact timeline of events. But the angels heard us around 4:00pm and Mike probably talked to us around 4:45pm. The Search and Rescue team most likely arrived around 5:30pm because Chloe and Abby were on the other side of the waterfall by 6:30pm. It did take the rescuers awhile to determine the best method of getting us down safely. While they probably could have helped us down on their left side of the falls, possibly injury free without ropes, they chose the safe bet and set up some ropes to use.

Highway 61 hiking trails

Cook County Search and Rescue Team


They threw us a rope and I secured it to a large rock in the river. I held on to the rope as a rescuer climbed up the falls. He then made a harness out of straps and got Chloe into it and ready to make her way down the falls. Using a knot instead of a caribiner she could control the speed of her descent and if she let go the rope would catch her so she wouldn’t fall. Once Chloe was safely down it was Abby’s turn. For her they used a belt instead of the strap caribiner and with a little assistance she too was over the falls. Last but not least it was my turn. Part of me just wanted to remain there to avoid embarrassment but I too made it down safely.

After the rescuers made sure we were physically able to walk on our own we hiked down the river until it met up with the hiking trail. There waiting for us were a number of people including a couple of EMT’s, a couple of Sheriff Deputies,  a couple Volunteer Fire Department members and Mike. He was relieved to see we were indeed fine.

Hiking the North Shore

Happy Hikers


We hiked the trail out to the bridge on the highway where the parking area is. There awaiting our arrival were two ambulances, a dozen or so concerned responders and Chloe’s Mom. Evidently she was very worried about Chloe and very happy to see she was OK.

I was very grateful for the help and concern of all of the people involved in the rescue. They did an amazing job and we were all appreciative of their help. We live in a wonderful and caring community and since it’s such a small community I knew most of the rescuers. What I felt besides blessed was embarrassed that I had to be rescued.

I’ll save that part of the story for another day.




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Posted in personal stories

Happy Labor Day

Travel safely everyone!

Posted in News

Enjoy the Labor Day Weekend

School starts Tuesday! I can’t believe I have a daughter who is a Senior and a son who is a Junior. Where did the time go? I have no clue. I do know it went way too fast and I’m not ready for this summer to be over. I want to hang on to the last few moments so my story will have to wait for the weekend to be over.

Posted in News
  • A trip to the Seagull Lake palisades never disappoints.

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