A day in the life of WinSport’s Early Explorer’s program: the birdhouse

One morning as we arrived at class we found a large pile of blocks and other materials on the table. Kinsey (our bird puppet) had a challenge for us, could we build him a home?

A student of WinSport's early childcare program, Early Explorers, builds a birdhouse.
A student of WinSport’s early childcare program, Early Explorers, builds a birdhouse.

We started to work, we drew plans, we built models and we talked about what we would make our birdhouse out of. Would it be made from wood? Would it be a nest? After a few weeks of planning and deliberation, we finally settled on building a birdhouse out of wood. Once we decided on wood, we ran into another problem! How would we attach all the pieces of wood together? One boy suggested using a hammer and nails. There, now we have a plan!

When we arrived the next week, we used all the wood scraps we could find to test out different designs. We experimented with how the pieces fit together and came up with several options for a birdhouse. We voted on our final design and got to work. Before we could put our plan into action, we had to learn tool safety. So, we sat together and came up with an agreement on how to be safe with our hammers. Remembering to keep space, watch where you’re hammering and only go one at a time, were among many of the suggestions on how we would keep everyone safe. Now we were ready! Each of us took turns to hammer in one nail at a time. It was hard work, but we kept at it and finally, we had a beautiful birdhouse for our friend Kinsey. Piper had an idea though – the bird house wasn’t finished because it needed to be decorated! We made a plan to paint it the following week and hang it outside.

Although it was a big undertaking, we all worked together to achieve a common goal. We also embraced taking a risk – we learned how to safely use a real tool. Allowing children to take risks builds them into capable and confident learners in their future. Using our muscles, motor skills and creativity, we learned so much building a bird house together.

A day in the life of WinSport’s Early Explorers program – The Beetle

WinSport’s Early Explorers program – an early childhood development program for children ages three to five – builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment. The idea to create the program was inspired from WinSport’s legacy, which was formed by relentless, bold, and fearless individuals. The organization’s goal is to continue that legacy by creating the next generation of leaders – children who will make an impact and continue to inspire their community. The outdoor play component of our ECD program is complimented by the newly designed calm and nurturing indoor learning space. Below is an example of a learning story written by WinSport Early Childhood educator Brittany Caldwell.

As I sat beside a boy on a log, I noticed beside us sat a little beetle. I reached out and grabbed a stick to pick up the beetle. I showed the beetle to the boy and a big smile grew across his face. I asked him if he wanted to show the beetle to his friends. He nodded in agreement and grabbed my hand and guided me towards a small group of boys. The boys quickly gathered around the beetle and began to observe him.

WinSport’s Early Explorers program – an early childhood development program for children ages three to five – builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment.
WinSport’s Early Explorers program – an early childhood development program for children ages three to five – builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment.

“He is so big”

“Wow, look at his legs”

“I wonder if he is alive

We watched as the beetle began to crawl. All of a sudden one boy raised his boot and stomped right over the beetle. The other boys cried out, “stop!” The one boy began to inquire why he should care to not stomp on the beetle. Was it just a bug? Isn’t that what you did when you found a bug? You stomp on it!

Before I knew it the boys were divided into a deep debate about the beetle sitting before them. Should we stomp on it? Why or why not? One boy quietly engaged in the conversation and said “If you step on the beetle its life will be over, that’s it, no more for the beetle, and his family will be so sad.” I watched on as they poked and prodded and debated over how to treat this creature before them.

As global citizens we are often put in situations where we must work cohesively with others who may not share our values. Yet, we must get along. Learning how to respectfully disagree and work alongside each other is a life skill that we must carry with us. While only young preschoolers, these children were tackling topics that are debated in the adult world. What is the value of life, and how do we respect it? I have no idea what the right answer was – should we squish the beetle or not – yet I am sure that in our time with the beetle we learned more about the world around us than we ever could have sitting in a classroom.

 

 

Are we raising a generation of vampires?

By John Francis, WinSport Director – Marketing, Communications & Guest Services 

I was over at a friend’s house having coffee when his tween and teen kid’s and friends emerged from the basement, fresh off of a marathon gaming session. As the kids made their way upstairs, they shielded their eyes from the sunlight and avoided any opportunity to join us on the back deck. Instead they settled in on the couches in the family room, shutting the blinds so the sunlight did not pierce their sensitive eyes.

WinSport's new summer camps are designed to get kids off technology so they can develop a love for the outdoors.
WinSport’s new summer camps are designed to get kids off technology so they can develop a love for the outdoors.

Our discussion over coffee started to evolve and as a group of 40 somethings, we began to sound like our parents. Chatting about how kids are not getting outside, forgetting how to play and losing some of the essential skills that truly shaped our generation.

One parent did pipe up that our kids will have a much easier time controlling heavy duty equipment given their ability to manipulate joysticks. Another said scoring in hockey, soccer and other sports will go down as kid’s play first-person shooter games.

After a few more laughs we got back to our discussion. We all admitted some guilt on putting technology in front of our kids to get a couple minutes to prepare dinner, read an email or hop on a conference call. Some had strategies on limiting the time their kids played and working on finding a balance for both on and offline play.

Our discussion came full circle and we all agreed that our kids were certainly missing some of the fun play that we experienced as kids.

We quickly circled the table and each asked a question:

  • Has your child climbed a tree?
  • Has your child organized a pickup game of baseball or road hockey?
  • Have you ever looked at the stars with your kids?
  • Does your child know how to setup a tent?
  • Has your child made a mud pie?

As we went around the table, it was disappointing that the majority of us answered “no” to most of these questions.

Our conversation went back to asking ourselves how we can help our kid’s learn these skills, which we identified in three ways:

  • Be better role models – spend time with our kids offline and outside. Show them how we played growing up. Live in the moment and put down our phones.
  • Encourage our kids to get outdoors and get dirty – After a rainstorm, put on some rain boots and jump in puddles, play in the dirt and show it is ok to get dirty or get out in the cold and snow and build a snow fort, snowman or have an epic snowball fight
  • Find some great programs for our kid’s – most of us had our kid’s in organized sport. We all agreed that we need to find programs that encourage outdoor play that push their limits. Some talked about scouts and sleep-away camps. At that point, I was very excited to share the new programs our team at WinSport built.

I was able to share our new Wildhood camps which provides exposure to the outdoors across multiple ages. Kids can learn how to build shelters, purify water and start a fire. Our adventure camps have kid’s climbing rocks, trees and playing outdoors.

I encourage many of you to start the conversation with your family and friends and see how you can help your kids grow offline and outdoors.

For more information on WinSport’s new summer camps, visit: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/summercamps.cfm

When should athletes start a training plan?

By Kent Bastell, MSc, CSCS Strength and Conditioning Coach

As a strength and conditioning coach, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had enquiries from athletes, or an athlete’s parent, about starting a training program when it’s only six weeks before the athlete’s competitive season starts. Most of the time the main goal of the athlete is to increase fitness or speed. But what people fail to realize is that physiology isn’t an instant process – it takes time. “Rome wasn’t built in 6 weeks”.

Kent Bastell is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at WinSport's Performance Training Centre. Kent’s sporting background includes playing varsity soccer for two years for GRPC in the ACAC division and seven years of soccer coaching experience at the U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18 levels, earning gold and bronze provincial medals with his hometown of Peace River.
Kent Bastell is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at WinSport’s Performance Training Centre. Kent’s sporting background includes playing varsity soccer for two years for GRPC in the ACAC division and seven years of soccer coaching experience at the U10, U12, U14, U16 and U18 levels, earning gold and bronze provincial medals with his hometown of Peace River.

Why do we train? The simple answer is that we are asking our body to adapt to some sort of stimulus (using weights, doing cardiovascular work, movement training, etc.). The human body is smart. When it is repetitively exposed to a stimulus it begins to respond by changing to better deal with its environment. How does it change? That is a few university classes worth of information, however, I’ll break it down into neurological adaptations (muscles coordinate better to produce movement), muscular morphological adaptations (increase in muscle mass), cardiovascular adaptations (heart can pump more blood per beat). The problem with adaptation is that it usually takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks of repetition for it to meaningfully occur. That means if you only allow time to train for 4-6 weeks, you can only pick from a limited number of adaptations to target. The other problem is that adaptations such as speed, usually require some foundational capabilities before it can be optimized.

Let’s think of training in simple, analogous terms. We are going to imagine a training program as a pumpkin pie recipe. As a strength coach, it’s my job to ensure we have the correct ingredients, correct amount of ingredients, that they are prepared and added in the proper order and lastly, to ensure it is baked for the right amount of time. Just like in baking, we create layers by which we build an athlete. Below is a simplified example of one of our training programs:

Pie Crust (foundation) – We begin with endurance and structural tolerance to ensure athletes move properly and have the work capacity to sustain training and competition

Pumpkin Filling – We try to build muscle mass and increase muscular/cardiovascular ability to handle a variety of more demanding loads

Whipped Cream – Once an athlete has work capacity and better muscular properties we can then train for max strength, speed and power.

An athlete who comes for a 6 week “speed” program is like saying you made a pie, but in the end only served a plate of whipped cream. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not a pie.

So, what does this all mean? Here’s our recommendations:

To give us enough time to build a proper athlete, a training program should ideally start in the off-season of sport. This means winter sport athletes should be training during spring, summer and fall months, while summer athletes should be training during the fall, winter and spring months. Once athletes are competing, the goal is to maintain the athletic characteristics they developed in off-season training. For optimal results and adaptation, it is recommended to train each muscle group at least two times per week. For some perspective, our elite WinSport Academy ski and snowboard teams train three times per week from June through to November and once per week from December to May.

If you’re interested in training, the WinSport Performance Training Centre (PTC) offers personal (1 on 1), small group (three to six athletes), or team training (seven or more athletes) all under the guidance and supervision of a certified strength and conditioning professional.

For more information or to set up a consultation with one of our coaches, please contact the PTC by calling 403-247-5405 or emailing train@winsport.ca