What does your family do for fun?  How about a weekend of counting alligators, paddling until your arms want to fall off, possibly bugs and extreme temperatures?  AND, beautiful bird sightings, gently swaying spanish moss over your head bedecking the cypress trees, and lots of fun with lifelong friends!  One our our family’s favorite weekend adventures is paddling and camping in the Okefenokee swamps of southern Georgia with friends.  We always start the trip with a gator count, each person guessing a number.  The winner gets a beer (or a toy from the Stephen Foster gift shop if the winner is a kid).  This year the count was 105, a low number that has been over 400 in past years.  This year we paddled in early March and hit an unusual cold snap, it was a first to be cold in the swamp!  But at least there were no bugs!  Our first day we had only been paddling for maybe twenty minutes, when a boat ahead of us capsized!  A high schooler day paddling group had left before us, a group with what seemed to be very inexperienced paddlers but fortunately for them all wearing life jackets.  The wind was intense, and when their first boat tried to go against the wind….over they went!  The group gathered their wet boaters and headed back to shore.  Fortunately for us the sleeping platform we were paddling to was 11 miles away with the wind, and against the current.  My teenage son and his best friend learned quickly how best to paddle efficiently together as their boat got further and further behind us.  The swamp is so beautiful, the water and wind smell sweet, the alligators and turtles peacefully sunbaking on logs,  sandhill cranes, egrets, and cormorants often seen flying overhead.  We reached our wooden sleeping platform as the sun started to drop, the temperature rapidly dropping.  With numb fingers we quickly donned every article of clothing we brought in our dry bags and set up our tents to warm up.  After a warm meal we enjoyed games under the stars and each others company. According to Harvard geneticist David Sinclair, we all need ‘adversity mimetics’ in our lives.  Believe it or not a little cold and a little hunger go a long way towards living a longer life!  While at home I accomplish this by a few minutes of cold water at the beginning of my shower, or a cold dip in the river after a run and limiting portion size with meals.  Also,  just get outside and have an adventure like we do in the swamps.  It wouldn’t be an adventure without some built in adversity!