June 28, 2013

Hiking Cards

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My Hunter is a sensitive outdoorsman.  He dreams of living off the grid on a mountain somewhere and communing full time with nature, paying for food by building boats to sell when he goes in town to buy tools for his dinosaur digs.  But for now, he settles for hikes and long stretched in the pasture doing his own thing.  Nature time seems to be an essential part of his existence.

But a few weeks back, we were on a hike on a trail up above our house and Joe, just in passing, said, "I wonder if this is stinging nettle."  That was all he said.  But Hunter instantly feared every plant we passed, sure it was going to sting him or make him itch.  He got a little piece of weed in his shoe and rather than looking in there and getting it out, he said, "Nettle stung me on my foot!!!"  Yeah.  Our little nature lover was suddenly terrified by all things nature.  

With all of our upcoming camping trips, something had to be done!  So I made him a set of nature cards of all things poisonous in our region.  It's amazing how much confidence this gave him.  How every little walk became chance to show off his knew understanding of plants and critters.  When we hiked Zion and Bryce Canyon a couple of weeks ago, he kept his cards close by and was happy to confirm or deny each assertion of poisonous plant.  

What's in the Cards?
I started with a card for each of the poisonous plants in our region.  It was a little hard to track down a comprehensive list, but I finally found one issued  by the state ag department to daycare providers.  It included all of the plants that were lethal if ingested as well as irritating to the touch, but since I don't generally endorse eating wildlife, I simplified things by only make cards for what we shouldn't touch.  For Utah, that was stinging nettle, oleander, poison ivy, and poison oak.  Each card was sized to a 1/4 page.

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I didn't want to make a card for every poisonous snake, so I just included a diagram to help you decide, based on certain physical features, if a snake is poisonous or not.  Seriously, though, if you're close enough to use the information on this card, you're already in trouble.

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I found a chart of common spiders ranked from harmless to deadly on an extermination web site.  I must say, this one freaked us all out.  The scary, hairy, fang-faced spiders that you might feel inclined to run from were in the harmless category.  Oh, and the ones that our house is full of?  Yeah...deadly.  Seriously, this blew my mind.  The number of times I've ignored a house spider that apparently could have killed me is astronomical.

Finally, I added some first aid cards on what to do it you get bitten, stung, or itchified.  Honestly, I'm not one of those moms who fears all things poisonous, but Hunter feels more comfortable when he knows what to avoid and what to do in the worst case scenario.  So the first aid tips were just a little extra comfort for him.

How to Assemble?
First, print them on card stock.  Yes, I laminated them, but still, hiking and climbing are rough and tumble activities and you can't count on lamination of flimsy printer paper to make them last.  Card stock, all the way.

This happened to be the day that I found out that my laminator no longer worked, but luckily, I had some of those self sealing, no heat lamination things around.  These are crazy hard to work with, but using card stock really helped keep from getting bubbles and I think the lamination is more sturdy than that of the meltable kind.  The only hang up is that you have to cut out your cards first because only one side is adhesive.  There has to be a margin of clear lamination between each card so that after you cut them apart, the paper doesn't just fall out of the lamination.  If you use a heat laminator, you don't have to pre-cut.

Finally, I punched a hole in the top corner of each and slipped them all onto one of those little hinged rings from the office supply store.  These were great because he can open up the ring and clip them to his belt loop while he hikes.

If you've got a kiddo who is nervous in nature, these hiking cards could be just the ticket to more enjoyable time in the great outdoors.

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