Snap Maps: A tool for parents or another safety concern?

Let’s talk about safety when using social media platforms, more specifically, Snapchat and Snap Maps.

For those who don’t know, the social media platform Snapchat has a function on it that allows you to see other people in your area depending on your privacy settings. The map lets users see their friends right down to the street name and building they are currently in.

As a Mother of three adults, Snap Maps can be a useful tool when one of my kids decided to take off to Italy by herself (which is something I’ve just experienced and would not recommend to any parent). The worry of something happening and no one being able to find her is significantly lessened when I see that little Bitmoji hovering over Venice like a shining beacon of “hey look, Mom! I’m alive!” However, I do highly recommend hearing her voice just to be sure.

But what about the younger generations with this app? Working in elementary and high schools I’ve heard countless stories about kids following others around town to scare them, or worse, jump them using the platform. What is a reassurance to me, can be a nightmare for other parents because their teens don’t know how to properly use the safety features built into the app…or they just don’t care to.

Personal Screenshot

The app can be programmed to only allow friends or even certain friends to see your location, something many teens don’t think about once they start sharing their maps with others. As a further precaution, Snapchats default mode puts everyone in “ghost mode” when they register. This means in order to use the location function, it has to be turned on. Users can even block certain friends from their location without taking them off their friend’s list at all.

At the end of the day, Snapmaps, like any social media platform, has its pros and cons when it comes to safety while using the application. For parents or any blog readers who may be unfamiliar with Snapchat, here’s a quick guide to the platform and all of its functions.

So the question is, how will you talk to your teens about Snap Maps? How could Snap Maps make your life a little easier?


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Couch to 450.6K – Conqueror Challenge

Social media has many different options available to make fitness or the motivation to get up and move a more enjoyable experience. Many fitness apps are available online to get your heart pumping and experience many different genres of movement. Weight training, running challenges, Yoga, Pilates, and the list can go on for days.

One of my favorite apps as of late is the Conqueror Challenges. This particular get-up-and-move challenge allows you to explore different destinations throughout the world, and all you have to do is log your steps, choose how many days you would need or like to complete the challenge, and earn badges along the way. You can also log distances by running, cycling, or swimming. As long as you track the distance travelled, you can complete the challenge.

You can complete these challenges as an individual or join different groups and tackle the distance with friends. There are various challenges to choose from, and although you do have to pay for each destination, they are fun to complete, and you can choose from two different membership options before beginning. Both give you a medal at the end, and one gives you a t-shirt that you can post pictures in your group wearing to encourage your teammates.

Another positive of this app is its contribution to two different causes; the user decides which cause to support. When you reach certain milestones, it allows you to determine if you want to plant trees with the Plant a Tree initiative or remove plastic from our oceans through Stop Ocean Plastic. Both causes drew me to the challenge, and I didn’t mind the cost when I knew it was supporting environmental issues.

So far, I have completed one challenge through Yellowstone National Park. The challenge includes virtual pictures and videos, postcards of milestones, and a map that shows your location in the park. The stops include information on local plant life, wildlife prone to the area and provide the news like a guided tour throughout the park.

Photo taken by Colette Secord

Currently, I am walking through The Grand Canyon and have doubled the distance challenge from Yellowstone, hoping to build up my stamina to move onto The Great Wall of China or The Lord of the Rings quest. There are so many destinations to choose from and the price point varies per challenge. You can check them out here

Who wouldn’t want to receive a ring and complete the Hobbit’s journey? Or cycle through China? Route 66, anyone? Check out the amazing challenges here!


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Not Everything Needs to be Digital: Online Dating in 2022

As a married woman in my 50’s, the thought of dating online is definitely a perplexing one to me but listening to many friends that have recently become single the dating game seems like an exercise in total disappointment and pure frustration.

Online dating uses many social media platforms such as Bumble, Hinge, Facebook Dating, Tinder and many others. Some are free platforms with in app purchases and others like eharmony are subscription based platforms. There are platforms that are Christian only and others like Farmer Wants a Wife. They also have platforms for the LGBTQ+ community. So many options to choose from but are they all created equal? After some research of my own, the general consensus that I have found is that online dating is definitely a crapshoot where all bets are off and anything truly goes.

Disclaimer: Mature Content

Now, I am obviously not well versed in this game but that is not why I am writing this. This is more an expression of my shock and dismay with some of the stories that my single friends have shared and to try to rationalize what has happened in the dating game as of late. When did men become so bold as to send you an unsolicited picture of their genitals? When did it become okay to expect sex on the first date or in fact, just meet for sex as an expectation?

I feel like the ability to hide behind a screen has made men/women more comfortable with being bold and forward without so much as a second thought as to how the recipient on the other end may feel about such vulgar advances. I myself have received messages via Instagram hooked to a friend request from some “doctor” in California claiming he finds me absolutely beautiful and would love to learn more about me. WHAT?

What happened to the days of classic dating where you get together, have an amazing meal with some interesting conversation, maybe a glass of wine and decide if a connection exists? What happened to putting in some effort with class and style?

Disclaimer: Offensive Language, Mature Content

This leads me into a whole new concern and that is “catfishing”. Having two young daughters in their twenties that are now navigating this world of online dating is terrifying to me. The idea that someone can create a whole new identity online and use it to lure a potential victim in has reinforced my view that online dating is simply not a safe way to meet a potential partner and if some have been fortunate, how many duds did you go through before you met someone even remotely worth the effort?

Maybe I am “old” as my daughter will sometimes playfully put it and cling too much to the day and age where social media and online dating platforms did not exist. Maybe I am old-fashioned and prefer the idea that if a gentleman wanted to date you he would be classy and ask. Obviously there were those that expected more “back in the day” and there were those that had ill intention BUT at least you had the face to face interaction affording you the ability to decline politely without spending days or weeks talking to this person only to meet and find out that it was dead end.


Best Online Dating Sites 2022


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Ontario Provincial Parks – Camping in the Beautiful Bon Echo

View from a lookout point on the Shields trail at Bon Echo Provincial Park.

Are you looking for the next adventure? Do you want to experience nature’s beauty and wonder?

You really do not have to look very far, Ontario has a number of beautiful parks all within a reasonable drive for you to sit, relax and enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery and colours almost in your own backyard.

Bon Echo History

Bon Echo, located in southeastern Ontario was once home to the Algonquin and other Indigenous Peoples who played an essential role in the development of the area. Mazinaw Lake and the rock it surrounds still hold great significance to the local Indigenous community with its many pictographs still found on the rock face. A boat tour or canoe ride across the lake can take you to visit the beautiful images found and perfectly preserved there. Rich in culture and history, you really are travelling back in time.

Steam coming off Lake Mazinaw in the early morning

When you visit the Visitor Centre and the Greystone Cafe in the park, you will find a beautiful path that brings you to the beach area with an amazing view of the lake and the rock face. You can enjoy a warm apple cider or a nice cup of coffee as you listen to many different nature sounds surrounding the area. The calming scenery is an incredibly relaxing to start your day in Bon Echo Park.

The Greystone Cafe and Bon Echo Visitors Centre, are also known as the last two remaining structures of the historic Bon Echo Inn.

The Greystone Cafe and the Visitor Centre located beside it are also the only two remaining historic buildings on the property. The property was also at one point in time a privately owned area that housed the Bon Echo Inn, many cottages, a boathouse and other buildings to support the hotel. Sold in the early 1900’s to Flora MacDonald Denison where it became a popular retreat and gathering place for artists, writers and deep thinkers. Bon Echo has also been the subject of many paintings by the Group of Seven and photographs by different artists over time. Her son Merrill Denison inherited the resort in the 1920’s and continued to host popular artists there for work and also relaxation. The Inn closed it’s doors in 1928 and then burned to the ground after being struck by lightening in 1936. Bon Echo is now a Provincial Park and opened in 1965 in an effort to preserve its rich history and to protect the ecosystem naturally found in the park.

Visiting Bon Echo

With many beautiful hiking trails, such as the one pictured at the beginning of this blog, and spacious campsites, Bon Echo is definitely a place to add to your summer/fall camping list. It is well maintained and the hiking trails range from easy to difficult. Some trails are also only accessible by water which will add another element to your quest for adventure and exploration of Ontario’s natural history.

The only real drawback I found is it is a total technology blackout area. You will be hard pressed to find a signal using your cellphone in Bon Echo and the only payphone on the property is out of service. If you travel down to the Rock where the former Inn stood, you will find a small signal there and if you take a short drive out of the park you can find a signal for a brief stretch. Otherwise, you are definitely off the grid which could be a good way to disconnect if that is what your are looking for. I know I was!!!

I found it very humbling when I walked the trails and thought about the many settlers and Indigenous People that walked those grounds so many years ago. Bon Echo is definitely a treasure that Ontario has the privilege to boast about.

For more information on Ontario’s parks, including Bon Echo, visit the Ontario Parks Website!


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History, hikes, camping and more at Bon Echo Provincial Park. Check out my trip to the beautiful Canadian Shield here: #canadiancamping #provincialparkscanada #bonecho