OutGrown Blog

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To All the Dads Who Inspired Us to Love the Outdoors
This article was originally published in June 2018. As a community of families, it is so inspiring to hear where our love for the outdoors began. Some of us have been exploring since we were babies. Others of us just recently discovered a passion for the outdoors. But one common thread is we all have role models who introduced us to the outdoors, and for many of us, that person is our dad. We asked members of our community to share how their dad – or brother, or husband or grandpa – helped shape their love for the outdoors. You are My Rock My dad has always been so supportive of me and my siblings, regardless of the situation. Any time I was working through something, having a rough day or excited about something, he would ask me to take a walk with him, no matter the weather. He has always believed that fresh air clears the head and calms the nerves. We would walk for miles and talk things through. He would give me advice when I asked for it, encourage me to follow my heart and be confident when making decisions, and learn from my mistakes (and I have had some mistakes). No matter the situation, he has always been my rock, and we still go on long walks every time we get to visit. And now anytime I need to clear my head, I step outside and let the fresh air calm me, just like he taught me. Becca Hosley, Southern Adirondacks, NY, Branch Photo: Becca Hosley You Empowered Me Growing up, we spent our summers sailing, hiking and camping. What stands out most about my dad is he made it fun. We played fun games, told silly stories and he always had a smile on his face. I also remember how he included me in the 'work.' He let me help set up camp, steer the sailboat and cook at campouts. I felt empowered, strong, and incredibly connected during those times. And now, it's these same lessons that I aim to pass along to my two boys! Christina Merhar, Snohomish, WA, Branch Photo: Christina Merhar You Raised Me to Love All Things Outdoors Here I am with my dad before heading out on a backpacking trip to Oak Creek Canyon, AZ. This was before me entering 7th grade. My dad raised me to love all things outdoors ... hiking, camping, backpacking, you name it. It was a big part of our life growing up. Colette Clarke, Harrisburg, PA, Branch  Photo: Colette Clark You Taught Me There's Beauty in the Small Things My dad was never into the typical outdoor experiences like hiking, backpacking and camping. I remember we went camping only ONE time as a family when I was a kid. However, one of my dad's favorite activities was to visit the beach. I grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and the beach was only a 45-minute drive away. We would spend hours walking the beach, playing in the surf and searching for treasures to take home (Leave No Trace didn't exist in our vocabulary back then). I owe it to my dad for teaching me that there's beauty in the small things like watching the waves roll in, feeling the sand slip between your fingers, and finding an unbroken sand dollar. Katy Severe , Des Moines, IA, Branch   Photo: Katy Severe Here's a little more about OutGrown: We're a national, 501c3 nonprofit with over a decade of experience helping families get outside with their babies and young children. We believe it is critical to include and center families from birth because it is a crucial developmental time for both the infant and the parent, where we can create a life-long, multi-generational impact. We know that we protect what we love and we're helping families build a loving connection with the outdoors so they can value and protect it for generations to come. As a community-driven organization, we have been working with indigenous, Latine, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee, and rural families to co-design multilingual and culturally relevant solutions in our programming. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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Parks Defined: What does "park" mean to you?
Whether it's an urban playground, a nearby greenspace or a national, state or other agency-run park, there are plenty of options to enjoy for the whole family. This article was updated on May 31, 2024. What does the word "park" mean to you? City parks are familiar to many of us—from tiny neighborhood playgrounds to larger areas of trees, ponds, wildlife and trails. But there are many other types of parks, like state and national parks.    You Have a Big Backyard No matter where you live, how small your yard at home, or how urban your neighborhood—you have a very big backyard. It’s called “public land” and it belongs to all citizens of the United States. It includes vast wilderness areas, lakes, rivers and forests. Having access to such great places to play is a unique privilege. But All Parks are Not Created Equal In my some places there may be several nearby public lands with similar names but run by different agencies. For example: Ashford County Park | Nisqually Mashel State Park | Gifford Pinchot National Forest | Mount Rainier National Park. These four different agencies manage these four parks (and forests): one at the county level, one at the state level, and two at the federal level. The name is often your first clue to the type of park you’re heading into and what sorts of activities are allowed there.  This varies quite a bit because ... It’s All About the Mission The agency's mission dictates how land can be used by the public. For example, the National Park Service's mission is “to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources.” The US Fish and Wildlife Service must “protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.” State park missions often emphasize providing recreation opportunities. What's Allowed and What's Not? First, find out the rules and regulations before you go because they can vary greatly! Rules about whether or not dogs, bicycles or strollers are allowed on trails may impact hikers. Camping may be allowed anywhere, or only in designated areas.  Not sure where to look? Start with the park's website, where regulations are almost always posted. Additionally, entrance stations may hand out literature, or signs may be posted at trailheads. You can also stop at visitor centers for information. Playing by the rules protects you and the park you're visiting. Buddy Bison and Kids to Parks Day are part of National Park Trust's mission to get kids outside! Find the Right Park For You Determine if a particular type of park is going to give you the experience you’re looking for before you go. If you’re envisioning a great family hike but can’t dream of leaving the dog behind, then head to a trail in a national forest instead of a national park, since dogs are prohibited on most national park trails. If you’re looking for a purist backpacking experience with no bikes or pets and very few people, then a wilderness area might be a good fit, as they have the strictest rules on types of use. Looking to canoe or kayak with the family? A national recreation area may have the perfect lake for you. Get Outside! Finally, wherever you decide to go, get out there and enjoy your parks! Need more info? Check out these websites: State Parks:  http://www.stateparks.org/find-a-park/ National Parks:  www.nps.gov National Forests:  www.usda/gov/usfs Bureau of Land Management: www.blm.gov US Fish & Wildlife Service:  www.usfs.gov Here's a little more about OutGrown: We're a national, 501c3 nonprofit with over a decade of experience helping families get outside with their babies and young children. We believe it is critical to include and center families from birth because it is a crucial developmental time for both the infant and the parent, where we can create a life-long, multi-generational impact. We know that we protect what we love and we're helping families build a loving connection with the outdoors so they can value and protect it for generations to come. As a community-driven organization, we have been working with indigenous, Latine, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee, and rural families to co-design multilingual and culturally relevant solutions in our programming. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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Special event for Military Families June 8
We are so excited to be participating in the Brushwood Center’s kickoff event for military families on June 8, 2024! “Brushwood Center works collaboratively with community partners, artists, health care providers, and scientists to improve health equity and access to nature in Lake County, Illinois, and the Chicago region.” While there are many programs that encourage kids to get outside in nature, very few focus on families with babies and young children. OutGrown specializes in bridging the baby nature gap, connecting families to nature from birth. We are excited to help extend the Brushwood Center's reach to serve a wider audience of military families. If you are a military family and in the Greater Chicago area, be sure to check out the Military Kids Fest from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. to enjoy the beautiful trails of Ryerson Woods, art activities, games and food with us. We will bring our Footprints activity (sponsored by our partners at L.L. Bean), handouts, a Wander Walk adventure, and a baby carrier library to try on different types and sizes. Photo credit: Jenn Canjar We know how important it is to find support and other families—your village—as you adapt to new surroundings and raise your kids while in the military. Events like this provide a great opportunity to try new things and find community in your new backyard. Here’s what some of our military families have had to say about finding community with us over the years: “I found Hike it Baby (now OutGrown) when I needed it most at our previous duty station. My husband was working super long hours, we had no family nearby, and I was desperately trying to get my son (who was 8 months old at the time) and myself out of the house. I struggled to find a community that felt like the right “fit” until I stumbled upon OutGrown. Everyone was so welcoming and non-judgmental! When we PCS’ed a few years later, I was happy to find a nearby branch at our new duty station, and it has provided an instant community full of wonderful people with similar interests for both my son and me. I’m not sure what we would have done without it!” ~Becca, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington Branch (Navy) “It made it so easy to find friends with similar interests and lifestyles. My entire community here is built from OutGrown!” ~Heather, Colorado Springs, Colorado Branch (Air Force) “In a duty station that wasn’t connected to a base... OutGrown gave me my first few friends and thus insight into a new location. It also got us out and about... no wallowing in despair here!” ~Jenyfer, Eugene, Oregon Branch (Navy) Find a community near you at: https://weareoutgrown.org/find-your-community ABOUT OUTGROWN Here's a little more about OutGrown: We're a national, 501c3 nonprofit with over a decade of experience helping families get outside with their babies and young children. We believe it is critical to include and center families from birth because it is a crucial developmental time for both the infant and the parent, where we can create a life-long, multi-generational impact. We know that we protect what we love and we're helping families build a loving connection with the outdoors so they can value and protect it for generations to come. As a community-driven organization, we have been working with indigenous, Latine, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee, and rural families to co-design multilingual and culturally relevant solutions in our programming. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org. ABOUT THE BRUSHWOOD CENTER Our Vision We work toward a future of resilient and connected communities, both human and ecological, where all lead healthy and thriving lives. Our Mission Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods works collaboratively with community partners, artists, health care providers, and scientists to improve health equity and access to nature in Lake County, Illinois, and the Chicago region. We engage people with the outdoors through the arts, environmental education, and community action. Brushwood Center’s programs focus on youth, families, Military Veterans, and those facing racial and economic injustices. More information can be found at: https://www.brushwoodcenter.org/ EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.
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 Celebrating and Supporting New Mothers All Year Long
This blog was written in partnership with our friends at Turtle Fur. Every May in the U.S. we celebrate Mother’s Day—at OutGrown we aim to celebrate and support those mamas all year long! Our Turn the Blues Green program focuses on combating the perinatal depression and baby blues that new parents often face. We provide the resources new parents need to feel safe, comfortable and able to get outside with their babies and find a supportive community. The benefits of spending time outdoors for new mamas and babies The outdoors provides elements we need to regulate hormones, ease stress and improve our sleep/wake cycles. Spending time in nature helps to: Increase serotonin Reduce cortisol Improve cognition Ease depression Boost immune function Improve sleep When new moms reap the benefits of spending time outdoors, so do their babies—and by going out together begin to bridge the ever-growing baby-nature gap recent generations have experienced. How to support yourself or other new mamas to combat the baby blues The “baby blues”—which can affect up to 85% of new parents—is difficult to go through and can be hard to distinguish from perinatal depression (formerly known as post-partum depression), which is a condition that often requires medical treatment and intervention. A trusted healthcare provider should always be in the loop when you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of depression after the birth of a child. There are also resources like the free, confidential National Maternal Mental Health hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). What else can you do to help yourself when experiencing depression after birth? Find simple ways to spend time outdoors every day, like taking extra time when checking the mailbox, stopping to feel the sun on your face as you walk into the store, or choosing to meet friends/family/colleagues at a park instead of inside. Look up other supportive communities (like Hike it Baby) in your area and commit to joining at least once per week. Research and ask other parents about their experiences and what gear or resources helped them the most in their post-birth journey. Reward and treat yourself when you accomplish goals. Get inspired. Be inspiring. Sometimes it helps to simply know that you aren’t alone in your experience with depression and the baby blues. By sharing our stories, we can help decrease the stigma associated with mental health and help others get through difficult times. Stories like Dawn’s and Angela’s can help others know there are ways to overcome difficulties after giving birth. Looking for new gear to get outside with your little ones this summer? Check out Turtle Fur’s new summer collection for adults and kids! Photo credit: Laura Castro _ Burg Life Photography Here's a little more about OutGrown: We're a national, 501c3 nonprofit with over a decade of experience helping families get outside with their babies and young children. We believe it is critical to include and center families from birth because it is a crucial developmental time for both the infant and the parent, where we can create a life-long, multi-generational impact. We know that we protect what we love and we're helping families build a loving connection with the outdoors so they can value and protect it for generations to come. As a community-driven organization, we have been working with indigenous, Latine, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee, and rural families to co-design multilingual and culturally relevant solutions in our programming. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITORS NOTE: We hope you enjoyed reading this article from OutGrown. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you. But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors, and volunteers. We make an investment in developing premium content to make it easier for families with young children to connect with nature and each other. We do not ask this lightly, but if you can, please make a contribution and help us extend our reach.