Classrooms cool with ice

 
 

Editor's Note - Powder Matt Mosteller is an author, journalist and marketing professional who's on a mission to get kids outdoors for fitness and to connect with nature. In short, our kind of guy.

This past April, Matt, along with a team that included glaciologist Alison Criscitiello, talked mountain adventure and climate science with school kids. They took live questions from students in classrooms across North America from the Wapta Icefields utilizing a satellite broadcast rig that fits into a backpack, connected to a camera on an iPhone.

Despite our concerns about (temporarily) bringing technology and an internet connection into our huts, the ACC was proud and honoured to host this important trip at our huts on the Wapta.

You can follow Powder Matt on his blog and you can read more about this project in the 2018 Fall issue of the Gazette.


 Beautiful dorsal fin peaks in all directions. Photo: Pat Bates

Beautiful dorsal fin peaks in all directions. Photo: Pat Bates

I'm going to say some strong words here

As a country, Canada earns a ‘D’ grade for our youth’s overall physical activity. Most schools today, compared with 30 years ago when I was growing up, offer less programming and fewer opportunities to get young ones outside. This is for a variety of reasons, but it's clear that our country has a health and wellness challenge of a giant magnitude, and it’s imperative that we take action at all levels immediately and try new, direct ways to inspire positive change. The future of our country's health depends upon it.

 Traveling by rope, all connected. Together on ice we move from Bow Hut to Guy Hut. Photo: Pat Bates

Traveling by rope, all connected. Together on ice we move from Bow Hut to Guy Hut. Photo: Pat Bates

A life saved from obesity

The fact is, I was a fat kid growing up. And then a snowsports professional saved my life.

Skiing - the sensational freedom of going downhill. A torrent of energy I had never felt before filled my veins and converted the ordinary into the priceless. My experience made sky soaring possible, and this act of caring for another person by a ski instructor sparked what would become a lifetime pursuit of outdoor adventure for me. And this never would have happened if that ski instructor had not taken a risk to connect with me.

There are many others like me out there, kids in that same situation, peering through an ice-encrusted window, ready and waiting for someone to share that life-changing moment of joy. I can't leave them sitting there wondering.

 Glacier ski traverse with good friends. Photo: Pat Bates

Glacier ski traverse with good friends. Photo: Pat Bates

Encouraging movement and activity

As a journalist and author, trying to find new ways to reach and inspire youth, to fight childhood obesity, and take strong stances in the classroom has been a constant passion of mine. From school board meetings to drafting interesting stories for news outlets that target and reach youthful audiences, myself and other outdoor enthusiasts and concerned parents want to spark those first steps outside. We've taken heat from the education system, we were disparaged as ‘free-range parents'. We kept at it.

 Alison and Ellorie going on their merry way, sharing songs and cheer in their happy place on ice. Photo: Pat Bates

Alison and Ellorie going on their merry way, sharing songs and cheer in their happy place on ice. Photo: Pat Bates

Continuing forward, some labeled us as "Powder Preachers." I kind of like that. We’re aggressively taking our message of ‘life outside is great, for both body and spirit’ to as many kids as possible, with numerous YouTube and television segments broadcast through national media outlets.

Seeing some glimmers of hope, we're continuing to charge forward on this mission to get youth on the trail, for healthy hearts and for our society’s future connection to Mother Earth.

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Adapting to the digital landscape

Our collective, growing social media addiction requires trying new ways to reach youth. For this project, a chance online connection with a Canadian teacher named Joe Grabowski, who is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer Program member, and who has pioneered knocking down similar walls, brought everything together.

Joe is the creator of the innovative live online show ‘Exploring By the Seat of your Pants’, and through digital programming, he is energizing classrooms with engaging live coverage from around the globe on many of today's important topics.

We proposed to Joe a journey: ski the Bow-Yoho Traverse with world renowned-scientist Alison Criscitiello – the Technical Director of the Ice Core Lab at the University of Alberta and first PHD in Glaciology from MIT – to share the important role that glaciers play in our environment. Because of her infectious love for the outdoors and being the co-founder of the Girls on Ice Canada program, she was the perfect fit, her playful joy being highly contagious. Joe jumped at the opportunity, and we began...

All in it together

Ice is cool in many ways, and getting outside can be fun. There are many ways to encourage kids to live healthy and active lifestyles - showing them skiing is my way. Thanks to The Alpine Club of Canada, Parks Canada, Joe Grabowski and Alison Criscitiello for making it possible for us to connect on a live classroom broadcast to schools in both Canada and the US, sharing nuggets of wisdom about the importance of glaciers and showcasing the joy in pursuing lives infused with movement and an exposure to outdoor elements.

 

 I'm so fortunate to have shared trail time with the awesome team of Alison Criscitiello (centre), Pat Bates (top), Ellorie McKnight (bottom left), Kyle Taylor (right) and Don Vockeroth (not shown). That's me with the yellow goggles. Photo: Pat Bates

I'm so fortunate to have shared trail time with the awesome team of Alison Criscitiello (centre), Pat Bates (top), Ellorie McKnight (bottom left), Kyle Taylor (right) and Don Vockeroth (not shown). That's me with the yellow goggles. Photo: Pat Bates

Final thought

A realization hit us all about how truly connected we are. Like a reflective undercurrent, the ice that was melting under our feet would make its way from the glaciers to the streams and eventually to the waterways that flowed nearby the students' schools. As our team worked together to safely cross the Bow-Yoho, we were reminded, once again, of our responsibility and duty of care for each other.