We live in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, so when my weekly homework assignment was "Take a Hike", I was shocked when no one actually did. I give homework assignments every week to my Balance-Agility-Strength-Stretch class, and they will happily do planks, squats, brush their teeth on one foot, virtually any homework I assign them. So why, in a town known for its beautiful and plentiful trails did no one actually go?
There were a variety of excuses; Not sure where to go, concerned about tripping, didn't have time (um, you are retired), maybe there would be bears. But I realized the bottom line was - this was out of their comfort zone. Something that felt a little bit new and scary... to go out and do ALONE.
As a person who loves alone time out on the trail, this had never occurred to me.
But I knew I needed to show them how to start. To live here and not experience the natural wonder of hiking in the mountains seems criminal. Not to mention how FABULOUS hiking on uneven ground is for all things related to balance. (Which is why I assigned this in the first place!)
So... I planned some field trips! We met at the Folk Art Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). I brought along a few sets of trekking poles, and the less "sure-footed" folks loved them! They suddenly felt secure when they could support themselves with feet AND hands. Another day we tried a different section on the MST, but I soon realized the elevation changes were challenging some participants a little too much. A third trip was set at the local Botanical Gardens, and we even stopped in an adjoining field and played some games. It was a blast!
And the project was a success! Some students went and bought their own trekking poles, and weeks, and even months later, I keep hearing report of students going to various parks and trails to practice walking on uneven ground -on their own! Hurray!