Are You Prepared for the Outdoors?

Every summer, our church provide​s​ a special activity for single adults ranging in age from 18 to 30.  We call it our Summer Summit and it's held in the mountains about 8,000 feet above sea level at a church owned property.  It's a 40 acre tract of land with three lakes, two of which have zip lines over the water.

It's a two day activity with great food, camping out, rock climbing, swimming, canoeing, archery, trap shooting, hamster ball (if you've never heard of this, you've got to google it), rope courses, team building activities, speakers, and a big dance Friday night.  It really is a BIG production!

We typically have 600 to 700 young single adults attend and it's just a blast.  My wife and I have been helping the last five years and even though it's a lot of work, it's a wonderful opportunity to get to know these young adults and watch them mingle and enjoy some good, clean fun.

This last year, my wife and I were assigned to oversee the waterfront on the main lake.  This included all swimming, canoeing and zip line activities.  We asked two other couples to assist us simply because there were just too many kids wanting to do too many different things all at the same time.

I really enjoyed working the zip line tower.  Kids would climb up a ladder to the top of the tower where I was standing, I would explain the rules and how best to jump out when they were over the water.  I would ​help ​them get properly seated in the harness and then tell them to jump off ​the tower ​when they were ready.

There was a long rope attached to the harness so that it could be pulled back to the tower after the rider jumped out.  I had no idea just how much work it would be to pull the harness back to the tower after each jump.  After 40 or 50 turns, my arms were screaming for a rest.  Even though one's arms would get totally wasted pulling the harness back time after time, the real problem was happening silently and consistently without one even noticing.

The top of my head, my forehead, my nose​,​ the tops of my ears ​and the back of my neck were getting fried!  I was so preoccupied with the tasks at hand that I had neglected to wear a hat or any sunscreen.  The problem with getting severely sunburned is that it happens so easily that you really don't know you're in trouble until it's too late.

That night and the next day, I really paid the price.  There wasn't enough Aloe Vera in the county to drive away the pain.  I couldn't believe I was so stupid as to not properly prepare for being out in the sun all day.  I seldom use sunscreen but usually I'll w​ear​ at least a baseball cap that will protect the top of my head and my forehead.

One of the fellows that was helping us out at the water front was sporting a really cool looking hat.​  I asked him about it and he began an infomercial that I wasn't expecting.  The hat he was wearing was called a Tilley hat and has quite a reputation as well as a lifetime guarantee.  He related several examples of how hats like his had been abused and subjected to extraordinarily harsh conditions and withstood it all.  The one example I remember was the story of how an elephant trainer had his Tilley hat eaten by an elephant and after it passed through the elephant's digestive tract, was recovered, washed and continued to be used by the trainer as if nothing had ever happened to the hat.

Not that I was particularly concerned about the threat of an elephant eating my hat, but I was intrigued by the quality and the lifetime guarantee of the Tilley hat.  Most importantly, I though it looked nice and had a wide enough brim to cover ones forehead, ears and back on the neck.​

I like baseball caps but for prolonged outside exposure to the sun, they just don't provide the protection that is needed.  So I started to pay attention and observe those who spend a lot of time in the sun and see what they used to shield themselves from the harsh effects of overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.

I had a great example I watched for several weeks last summer when the owners of the home across the street from me decided to renovate and re-landscape their home.  The landscaping crew was predominately Mexican who seemed to know something many of us don't realize.  They know how to dress for prolonged exposure to the sun and it obviously works.  Many of us, who don't know better assume if it's hot and we're in the sun, remove as much clothing as possible to try and keep cool.

These construction workers knew better.  The first thing I noticed was that they all wore long-sleeved, collared shirts.  No collarless tee-shirts.  In addition, some wore hoodies with the hoods over their heads.  Others wore large brimmed hats that would provide sufficient shade to cover their heads and necks.  One older worker wore what I first thought was a costume or prank cowboy hat.  It must have been three times the size of a regular cowboy hat.  After watching him over several days, I realized it was a legitimate hat that provided a significant amount of shade.

Growing up in New Mexico, it was very common to see Navajo women wearing long velvet dresses out in the sun in the summer.  My father explained to me it actually helped insulate them against the heat rather than making them hotter.

In the event of some major event or natural disaster, the odds are you will be spending more time outside that you do now.  You certainly don't want to add to your woes by not protecting yourself from the sun.  Put on your list to get the right kind of hat for each family member and make sure the brim is large enough to cover the ears and back of the neck.  Being properly prepared with the right kind of hats for your family will save you pain and discomfort in the future.