VANCOUVER – The idea behind it is a simple one.
Known as the “Winter Challenge 2014,” the idea is to jump into a cold lake or river, dunk your head all the way under. When you emerge you must then challenge others and they have 24 hours to do the same. Some variations include adding a snow angel after the dip, if there is snow on the ground.
The idea has spread throughout Facebook in the past couple of weeks with many seeming more than willing to take a cold plunge for fun. People who have been challenged can decline if they wish.
Groups have sprung up with people sharing their videos and encouraging others to do the same.
Chilliwack, B.C., resident Carielynn Victor, who is a member of the Stó:lō Nation, said the idea is not a new one, but the concept of taking it public is.
It is a common practice across indigenous groups in North America to take part in a ceremony like this as part of a cleansing ritual. But it is often a private affair.
“Originally it’s not really talked about,” she said. “Each community has its own word and own custom.”
“In a way it’s something else and it’s not our exact ceremony.”
The goal is to feel clean and light and free of troubles. “I’ve talked to a few elders about the conflict in a ceremony being exposed,” she said. “But the benefits outweigh the negative.”
She said it is exciting to see so many different people from all over B.C. taking part. “There’s nothing but positivity in it,” said Victor. “It really connects people to each other and to the water.”
Many people who have taken part have also said the challenge has morphed from the idea behind the “NekNomination Game” – an online drinking game where the participant films themselves drinking a pint of alcohol in one gulp, posts the video online and then nominates others to do the same.
Soon after, a game called the “24 Hour Challenge” started appearing on social media sites. In this game, participants must upload a video of themselves performing a stunt or an activity outside, then upload the video, nominate others and finally, chug a beer.
But those games are different. The Winter Challenge seems to be about good, clean, fun.
Tanis Harrison also lives in Chilliwack and completed her Winter Challenge Thursday night.
“It was fun and it was cold,” she laughed. She was nominated by her son’s best friend and after her dip she then nominated eight more people.
Rinette Lagace lives in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast and she completed her challenge from her daughter on Thursday. “I thought it was a fun thing to do,” she said.
She has challenged the Blues Bantam Hockey Team as they are the first Bantam hockey team from the Sunshine Coast to go to the provincials in 20 years. “It’s definitely in the spirit of fun,” she laughed.
In Prince Rupert, most people taking part in the challenge head down to Rushbrook Harbour and jump off the dock.
Local resident Kayla Bright did her challenge on Thursday. “It was pretty intense and it was pretty crazy,” she said.
She said her Facebook feed has been filled with posts from people doing the Winter Challenge and she thinks it’s a great idea.
“I think it’s great because everybody’s out there getting active,” she said. “Just going out and showing people how crazy they are.”
Have you taken part in the Winter Challenge? Share your experiences in the comment section below.