One of the things that I have learned since moving to Michigan is that cold & snowy weather is not really an excuse for staying inside. Instead, you wrap your shivering limbs in multiple layers of warm clothing, then top everything off with an insulated and waterproof shell of coat, gloves, boots and snowpants.
Photo left: A good first step. Now to get off the couch and get outside! Retro legwarmers by Protopian Pickle Jar (2018) CC BY-SA 2.0.
(Also important: hats, scarves or other face covering, but need not be waterproof if inside your crunchy tardigrade*-shell of outer gear.)
Tangent: Tardigrades are microscopic animals, also known as water bears, that are tolerant of extreme cold, dessication and other environmental insults. I also think they are extremely cute. Photo below : Water Bear by Aditya Sainiarya (2015) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Between the ages of 1 and 6, I lived with my family near Milwaukee, WI, where a similar winter climate necessitated my adult caregivers bundling me up in many layers of protective insulation. At some point, I must have learned how to bundle myself, because I remember pulling on bib-style snowpants, “moon boots,” lovingly-knitted wool hats, and those mittens that would clip to the inside of your coat sleeves with metal alligator clips.
Maybe my early years in Wisconsin are the source a vague sense of nostalgia I felt when pulling on my snowpants and snow boots to staff winter break camp at the Nature Center. During first week of January 2018, daily highs hovered around 10 deg F (-12 deg C). To determine a safe amount of time we could spend outside in the cold, we referred to the NOAA windchill chart. As long we were in the “safe zone” with regards to air temp and wind speed, we could let appropriately bundled kids stay outside up to about 30 minutes.
Our day was a mosaic of inside/outside transitions around planned activities.
- Kids Arrive: Take off coats, snowpants, boots etc for morning stations and welcome circle indoors.
- Morning Activity: Put on snowpants, coats, boots etc. for morning hike outdoors.
- Warm-up interlude and snack: Remove boots, coats and snowpants.
- (Repeat with additional indoor/outdoor activities, warm up interludes including lunch and afternoon snack, until 5:30pm when parents arrive to pick up kids.)
Which leads to the following exchange:
New Camper: This is my first time at winter break camp! What do we do here?
Me: Well, we have a lot of cool activities planned. But we mostly put on and take off our snowpants.
Our nature center, accordingly to popular acclaim, hosts one of the finest sledding hills in Ann Arbor. This means that we incorporate sledding as an outdoor activity whenever possible during the course of the day’s activities.