On April 6, Boone is invited to take what the Japanese call a
Free of charge and organized for everyone, the event will see guided bird-watching, hiking, dancing, planting, climbing and hammocking.
The diverse lineup of activities runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and is part of “Unplug Yosef,” an initiative geared toward “getting people outside and into the outdoors.”
This day of outdoors appreciation stems from a challenge accepted by Appalachian State University professor of recreation management Joy James. Concerned that our national parks are becoming endangered and prompted by her desire to get people outside, James entered her idea, “Outdoors: There’s an App for that,” into an online challenged, called “Discover the Forest and Get Your Community Outdoors.”
The idea behind the challenge is to prompt organizers and individuals to “inspire your friends and neighbors to escape their stress and discover the great outdoors.” Joy’s idea resulted in a $1,500 prize from program sponsors The Ad Council, U.S. Forest Service and The Wilderness Society.
James’ idea was to quadruple the size of last year’s community event, “Unplug Yosef.” Last year, approximately 50 people played parachute, juggled and participated in yoga at Sanford Mall, Durham Park and Duck Pond Field on the ASU campus.
At the end of each event this year, each participant will receive a raffle ticket and the chance to win four Grandfather Mountain day passes, national park annual passes, an ENO hammock, discs, hats, T-shirts and the ultimate prize: $500 toward a Frontier Airlines ticket to the outdoor location of their choice.
The only catch? “Unplug Yosef,” or turn off your technology, during the events.
For this year’s April 6 event, James foresees at least twice as many attendees. Last year, James said that participants “didn’t comment on the fact that they were unplugged; they commented on how much fun they were having.”
Neither James nor the organizers of “Unplug Yosef” are antagonists of technology. A GPS system can unlatch the fear of exploring, and geocaching has become a game that marries technology and nature.
But many are concerned about the inertia effect of technology – that our motionless bodies tend to stay motionless in front of a computer screen. James hopes that April 6 will kickstart that motion into nature, free of charge.
“We are evolutionarily wired for nature,” James said. “(Naturalist Edward O.) Wilson calls it ‘biophilia’ ...we have an affinity for nature.”
She referenced books, like “Your Brain on Nature” and “The Last Child in the Woods,” to say that many children have a “nature-deficit disorder” and that the outdoors satiates their energy and curiosity and can ease ADHD.
But the benefits span to adults, too. According to the American Psychological Association, time in nature is mentally “restorative” and “can help the body heal.” It is a “trigger for peak (spiritual) experiences,” according to John Davis, professor at Naropa University.
“Really, the outdoors is a balm,” James said, “to help us go back into the indoors and be productive academically and at our work.”
ASU’s recreation management program planning class did much of the overseeing, marketing and advertising for the event.
For more information, call James at (828) 262-6322, or visit http://op.appstate.edu/pagesmith/240.
— From 8 to 9 a.m., learn how to identify local birds on a Boone Greenway hike, led by Grandfather Mountain naturalist Mickey Shortt. Bring your binoculars and meet at the Clawson-Burnley Park picnic shelters on the Boone Greenway, across from the National Guard Armory.
— From 10 a.m. until noon, families are invited to play with fairies and design and build a fairy house. Collect dried leaves, acorns, flowers, moss, sticks and stones as building materials, and come donned in a fairy costume if you would like. Co-sponsored by the Turchin Center for Visual Arts with the assistance of Elkland Art Center, Fairyland is located in the Turchin Center, room 3200.
— A Leave No Trace workshop will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. at Durham Park’s Gazebo at Appalachian State University. Sponsored by ASU’s Blue Ridge Parkway Corps, the workshop teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands.
— From 1 to 2 p.m., Chatty Majoni will organize Garden Bed Prepping at the Hospitality House on Brook Hollow Road, Boone.
— Go for a Biology Greenhouse Tour anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. at 333 Dale St, Boone.
Drop by Southern Appalachian Historical Association’s “Horn in the West” between 1 and 2 p.m. for an informal tour by member Katy Cook.
— From 1 to 2 p.m., ASU’s American Marketing Association will be doing “Silly Stuff” outdoors on Sanford Mall on campus.
— Field games will be held on ASU’s Duck Pond Field from 2 to 4 p.m., hosted by ASU’s Health Promotion Club.
— From 1 to 3 p.m., Rock Dimensions at Footsloggers will open its rock-climbing wall for free.
At 2 p.m., a strenuous Boone Fork hike will begin, led by ASU’s Biology club Garret McGrath. Capable hikers should meet at the wooden footbridge in Price Park Picnic Area at milepost 296.4 of the Blue Ridge Parkway and plan for up to three hours of hiking.
— At 2 p.m., Amy Renfranz, National Park Service ranger and writer of The Mountain Times’ award-winning column, “Dear Naturalist,”will lead a hike around Bass Lake. The hike is easy, will last about an hour and will begin at Moses Cone Manor, milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
— Also at 2 p.m., a ranger-led hike will be held at Elk Knob State Park, located at 5564 Meat Camp Road in Todd.
— At 3 p.m., during the field games on Duck Pond Field, a Fitbit demonstration will be held. Fitbits are wireless trackers that count your steps and can be connected to mobile devices to log meals and track weight. A drawing to win a Fitbit will be held on site, and the event is sponsored by ASU’s Exercise Department in Health Leisure and Exercise Science.
— Learn how to play disc golf from 3 to 4 p.m. on ASU’s Sanford Mall, sponsored by the ASU’s Recreation Management Association.
— Outdoor yoga will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. on ASU’s Quinn Center patio. Sponsored by ASU’s University Recreation (UREC), yoga mats will be provided.
— Lawn games and board games will be ready for playing from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sanford Mall on campus. The games are hosted by ASU’s American Marketing Association.
— Get your groove on excising outdoors with Zumba! from 4 to 5 p.m. on Duck Pond Field, sponsored by ASU’s UREC.
— Unplug Yosef is trying to set a hammock record. From 4 to 5 p.m., come to Rocky Knob Mountain Biking Park in Boone and set up your hammock to set the precedent for the number of hammocks set up in one spot. Music will be on site and children can play at the park.
— Live music from ASU’s a cappella group, Enharmonix, will be held at 5 p.m. on ASU’s Sanford Mall.