Top 5

it's earth day!

It is Earth Day today! If you know us here at Water Monkey you know that we are obsessed with the outdoors, conservation and tackling the issue of climate change. You may think that a wakeboard camp that burns thousands of gallons of fuel every summer would not be the best messenger for saving the planet but since our first summer we have been a zero-carbon company through purchasing carbon offsets, making our buildings more energy efficient and educating our campers and staff about being responsible citizens of our world.

Here are five simple things you can do on Earth Day to help the planet:

  • Offset your yearly CO2 output.

    • You create CO2 when you drive, heat/cool your home, take a shower, turn on the TV or charge our cell phones etc. You can use the EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator to figure out how much CO2 your family produces: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/

    • Then go donate to offset that CO2: https://www.cooleffect.org/ . I have been researching these charities for over a decade and Cool Effect puts almost all of its donations towards CO2 offsets, not other unrelated expenses.

  • Stay put today!

    • Driving around needlessly creates tons of CO2, literally. Think about skipping that extra trip to the grocery store, biking/walking somewhere instead of driving or carpooling with neighbors to reduce the gas you burn.

  • Switch your home power to WIND!

    • No, you do not need to instal a windmill to do this. There is an amazing organization that takes over your monthly electric bill and pairs your consumption with wind power being generated around the country. This is a great way to eliminate a lot of your CO2 emissions every month with just a click of a button. Plus, their service can save you money by automatically picking the cheapest provider in your area.

    • Just go to their website, enter your electric utility info and sign up. They will source 50% of your energy from wind for free. For a small fee they will source 100% from wind.

    • Their online dashboard shows you your monthly impact:

  • Eliminate ‘ghost’ electricity use in your home.

    • About 25% of your power use every day is from devices that are plugged in but not being used. Getting rid of this waste not only helps save the planet by reducing your electricity use, it also can save you a significant amount of money.

    • The biggest culprits are cable boxes, computers (and accessories) and chargers (phone, tablet etc). These devices are sucking power 24/7 as long as they are plugged into the wall. Here is what you can do:

      • Unplug devices that are rarely used. Yes it is inconvenient to have to plug something in when you have to use it but if it goes unused for more than a day or so it is worth pulling the plug.

      • Use power strips on devices you use more often. Plug your computer, printer, speakers etc into a power strip and flip that switch when you are not at the computer. It takes seconds to turn the power back on and it will save you hours of juice that would otherwise be wasted. My power strip on my nightstand has six devices on it and only goes on at night saving about 16 hours of use every day!

      • Check the settings on your devices. Cable boxes notoriously use about the same power as a standard refrigerator. Most have an energy saving setting that reduces power use after an hour or two of not being used. (Your DVR won’t miss a single show.)

  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

    • We drill these three words into our campers’ heads all summer.

      • Use less ‘stuff’! Carry a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. Use washable tupperware instead of plastic ziplocks. Make your home more energy efficient by insulating pipes, replacing all lightbulbs with cheap LEDs, minimizing your use of air conditioning and turning your water temperature down a few degrees. Simple steps can make a big difference.

      • Reuse everything! Single use plastics are choking our waterways and destroying our environment. Repurpose stuff that you would normally throw away (I love using plastic packaging as trash bags and turning old clothes into mountain bike grease rags).

      • Recycle what you can. If your community recycles you should take advantage of it. Clean and sort everything the best you can and remove labels and stickers from plastic, glass and tin products. Grocery store plastic backs can be dropped off at the grocery store or your local WalMart for recycling.

There is so much more you can do but just thinking about your impact and getting started is a major step. Happy Earth Day. Get outside!

-Evan

five ways to deal with feeling intimidated

Ever go to do something and not know how to start? No matter how you approach it you just feel like you will never be able to succeed so what is the point in trying at all?

The feeling of intimidation is daunting. It discourages us from trying new things, from sharing our accomplishments and from being the best we can be. Intimidation is born from many sources: a peer who is 'good at everything', a preconceived notion of how you should look/perform/interact or pressures felt from companies/celebrities displaying their concepts of perfection. One of the biggest intimidation sources is social media. It is easy to think that everyone out there is cooler, better, happier, more popular etc etc than you based on their curated Instagram feed or flawless 'Snap Streak'. 

Surely everyone has felt intimidated at one point or another so here are our Top Five Ways to Deal with Intimidation:

  1. Be confident in your own path. - You make choices every day that shape your life. Those choices make you who you are. As long as you are happy with the path you are on do not worry about what others may think and stay true to yourself. 
  2. Public image ≠ reality. - People generally do not post bad pictures of themselves. People generally do not let you know about their failures. No one is perfect and whenever it seems like person x is living the dream and better than you at life just remember that they have their own fears and limitations that you may not know about. Do not compare yourself to someone else's ideals but rather focus on your own.
  3. Set goals. - The best way to ignore the crowd is to set some goals. These can be goals to a specific accomplishment or just daily goals like be a better person, help others and try something new. We help each of our campers set goals every day at camp and it allows them to tackle big things without getting overwhelmed. Break whatever you want to do into pieces, master each piece and put it all together to dominate.
  4. Seek help! - There are resources all around you. Parents, coaches, teachers, peers, online tutorials, the list goes on. If you want to do something chances are there is someone nearby that can help you out.  
  5. Disconnect! - Stop worrying so much about what others are doing and focus on what matters. Put your phone down and do not check social media for a few days. Likewise do not do something new just to post about it to your friends and followers: do it for yourself. 

So go learn a new instrument. Try out some public speaking. Ask out the person you have been scared to approach. Do something that would usually make you 'uncool'. Above all, when you feel intimidated by something just take a deep breath and dive in.   

top five reasons kids with their own boats should still come to our camp

The biggest part of my 'off-season' job as a camp owner is to speak with families (on the phone, Skype, in person, or over e-mail) and answer their questions about our program. One question I hear a lot goes something like this:

My (son/daughter) is really into (wakeboarding/waterskiing/wakesurfing) and we want (him/her) to learn new skills but we have a boat and a lake house so we can probably teach them ourselves so why should we spend the money on your camp?

My answer is usually some combination of the below Top Five reasons kids with their own ridiculous lake setup should still come to Water Monkey Camp:

Camp makes for instant friendships.

Fun and Camaraderie - Anyone who has been away to camp (especially Water Monkey) knows that camp is more than just the activities offered. Nowhere else do kids meet one day as total strangers and become inseparable best friends by Day 2. Camp is a catalyst for friendships that will last a lifetime. The watersports may be why campers come but the good times with other kids are what stay with them when they go home. 

Early AM group stretch.

Social Interaction (of the in-person variety) - Cell phones and social media have changed the way people interact to the detriment of us all. Camp is a rare break in a camper's life of nonstop social media bombardment. At camp kids are forced to interact with each other from the moment they arrive until their parents show up to take them home. This could be as simple as a cabin of campers figuring out how to share the sink to brush their teeth at night to a camper talking one-on-one with a coach to work out how to improve at a certain skill or just a few guys and girls sitting and joking around after lunch. As texting and Snapchatting replace actual human interaction it is always great to see kids talking to each other the old fashioned way.

Skis and smiles.

Top Level Coaches - I get it, you have a brand new $125,000 wake boat on a beautiful lake near your hometown and all the gear you could possibly need for a summer out on the water. What you are missing, though, is trained coaches who dedicate their lives to pursuing the sports we offer at camp. The progression that we see in just a week is often insane. First-time waterskiers that leave after a week having progressed to using just one ski (slalom). Kids who have never heard of wakesurfing not only getting up but dropping the rope and surfing. Intermediate wakeboarders throwing down back rolls and tantrums having never tried an inverted trick before coming here. The program we have created in combination with the unintimidating atmosphere of learning and fun allows campers to significantly boost their skills in a short time. These skills are brought back to your lake for the rest of the summer and onwards to continue progressing and share with other family and friends. Yes, you can have fun on your own boat all summer long but what our coaches provide is that extra push to do something great.

Safety first.

Safety While Learning New Skills - Just because you have that nice boat and have dialed in the wake just right does not mean that you can safely teach your child at home to launch over the wake and learn tricks without some injuries as a byproduct. Our above-mentioned coaches prioritize safety during each campers' progression so that they are building new skills over a foundation of old ones and never getting out of control. Kids are fearless and our job at camp is to focus their energy and training into results without unnecessary hospital visits. 

Independence! - Possibly the most important aspect of coming to camp is the sense of independence from home, parents, friends, judgement, comfort zone, etc etc the list goes on forever. So many kids who are too shy in front of their parents to speak up or try something new will jump at the opportunity once away at camp. I cannot tell you how many times we hear each summer how a camper returned home a new person with more self confidence and self esteem. The feeling of being away at camp - a feeling I still remember 20 years later - is simultaneously exciting, scary, invigorating, and hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it themselves.

Responsible gift giving for the holiday season...

Over the next month or so most of you will be inundated with gifts - both giving and receiving.  While it is undeniably fun to exchange presents, rarely do kids or their parents think about the impact those gifts will have on our planet.  

Plastic toys, textiles (clothes), and electronic gadgets and trinkets take tremendous resources to produce, package, and transport and then typically end up in a landfill after a season or two of use (if they get used at all).  In fact the textile/garment/fashion industry is the second most polluting sector on our planet with number one being the oil industry!  Anything made of plastic is no better: every piece of plastic ever produced still exists today and will be around long after we are all gone to pollute our waters and poison wild creatures.

With that (downer) in mind, here are the top five gifts to give this season with our planet Earth in mind.

  1. Your time/company
    • Instead of a tangible gift why not plan and commit to a trip, meet-up, getaway, or a weekly hour of time that you get together with friends or family to relax, eat, talk, or see a movie?  Must-have gift fads are fleeting but quality time is precious.  Disconnect and enjoy good company!
  2. Handcrafted (wood) Gift
    • Unwrapping a box is half the fun over the holidays but that does not mean the surprise inside should be a thoughtless commercial item.  Wood is a renewable resource that sucks up carbon while it grows and then becomes our homes, furniture, and a variety of fun items.  My ski poles are made of (super) renewable bamboo that I built with a DIY kit from Soul Poles.  Coach Ryan's favorite game is Kendama which campers have surely seen him playing with at camp.  You can also add that extra touch and build something yourself to give away.  Wood is easy to work with and building with someone is an extra bonus as you learn new skills and enjoy some quality time (see #1).
  3. Donate to a charity
    • What better way to show someone you really know them then donate to a charity or nonprofit that exactly reflects their passion.  There are organizations for every cause from the environment to wildlife to child welfare to cancer and disease prevention.  Even better, give to a local animal shelter or food pantry to keep the benefits where the gift recipient lives.    
  4. Online subscription (Netflix / Hulu / Spotify)
    • Setting aside the pollution endemic to the modern internet, a gift of a subscription service can be a lasting and awesome present that eliminates a plastic DVD or CD (if those even exist any more).  Streaming services provide limitless entertainment as well as knowledge through documentaries and podcasts.  This is a gift that will get the recipient to think of you every time they log in...which is likely every day.  
  5. CAMP!
    • Sorry for the shameless self promotion.  Giving the gift of camp is something that a kid will go crazy for.  I listed all of the reasons in a previous post so I will not go into detail here but suffice to say camp is worth way more than the price of tuition.

 I hope you enjoy the holidays and if this post gets you to replace one 'traditional' gift with something more environmentally responsible then I have accomplished something this year!

P.S. Recycle!

 

-Evan

Top 10 health benefits of wakeboarding

Anyone who has ever woken up the day after a wakeboarding or waterskiing set and felt their arms, shoulders, and backs all achy and sore knows how intense of a workout these sports can be.  Beyond physical exercise, though, wakeboarding improves flexibility, clears your mind, and gets you outside enjoying nature.  Here is a link to a short little article with the top 10 health benefits of wakeboarding. Top 10 Benefits of Wakeboarding

I am sure everyone has their own additions to this list which is great!  The fact that everyone has their own reasons why they love getting behind the boat is why these sports continue to evolve and grow.

-Evan

(Article found by Water Monkey Coach Heather; thanks Heather!)