OutGrown Blog

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10 Ways to enjoy the last days of summer
Are you looking at the back end of summer and wondering where it all went? Well, there's still time! Whether school has started in your area or not, you can still take advantage of the long days and warm weather and make the most of these last days of summer. 10 Ways to enjoy the last days of summer 1. Get in or on the water Kids can spend hours upon hours playing in water, so whatever is near you – the ocean, a lake or creek – it doesn't matter. Go, play and splash the day away. Here are some water (and more) ideas if you need a little extra help. 2. S'mores Week With three layers of goodness (marshmallow, chocolate and graham crackers), S'mores are a winner with almost everyone. Whether you make it a dip, put it in a cone or add fruit to it, sample a different kind of S'mores every night for a week. You can even make walking S'mores. Mmmmm! 3. Hit the movie theater Catch a movie in the park while you still can. Pack a small dinner or snacks and chill, knowing you don't have to blow up that gigantic screen. Add a fun twist and bring along some glow-in-the-dark necklaces for the kids to wear and play with in the dark. 4. Play tourist Are there places in town you've always wanted to visit with the family? Museum? Petting zoo? Local attraction? Historical sight? Every town has something! Play tourist in your town and visit a place you've never been. 5. Plan a sunset hike If you haven't tried it yet, do something new and take the family on a sunset hike. Bring along a picnic dinner and stay for the evening light show in the sky. Just remember to pack flashlights or headlamps for the hike back.   6. Plan a weekend getaway Take that weekend getaway you've been putting off all summer. Or take the family for a quick weekend camping trip. If you don't want to tent camp, you can have just as much fun car camping. Just do it. Throw clothes in a bag, gas up the car and hit the road. Here are some ways to pack snacks and foods for a road trip. 7. Treats stop Stop by a new treat shop you haven't visited or get a new treat from a favorite local spot. We recently did one of those places that "rolls" the ice cream. Silly summer fun? Yes! 8. Fashion show Have a fashion show and catwalk those fabulous new school clothes. Kids enjoy trying on their new fashionable clothes, so get them out and show them off. Grab a dollar store mat and roll it out for an instant catwalk. 9. Autumn bucket list Start your autumn bucket list. Getting excited about fall can do a lot for remembering to appreciate summer. Are you stuck with coming up with ideas? This printable from Polka Dot Chair can help. 10. Splash pad party Meet friends at a splash pad for a day of relaxing fun. The kids can run around worry-free while the mommies (and daddies!) can have some grown-up time catching up on the sidelines. Bring treats to share and it'll be like a party. Fall is fast approaching, so we hope can get out and spend time with the family. However you choose to mark these last days of summer, be safe, have fun and, if all else fails, Hike it Baby! What's your favorite way to spend a late summer day? Let us know in the comments below. Photos by Ali Chandra and Deanna Curry. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. 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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How to hike while breastfeeding on trail
In August 1990, a declaration was signed to promote World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7) to encourage moms to breastfeed and improve their and their baby’s health and well-being. With all the benefits that come with breastfeeding, the decision to nurse also brings many challenges – including the many obstacles that come with nursing on trail. But don’t let that keep you from hitting the trails with baby. To help you overcome some of the fears you might have about breastfeeding on trail, we’ve gathered some firsthand tips from our Hike it Baby families to help you breastfeed on the go trailside. Practice makes perfect It takes some practice playing with your SSC carrier to drop baby down lower so they can latch and you are still comfortable. I keep the waist the same and loosen straps and just keep adjusting baby so that he can latch. Nursing camis work best because you have one shirt under your SSC hip belt. Try to make sure the shirt over your cami is not under the belt. It’s not the end of the world but it takes a little longer having to pull it out to get it up. I often pause until I get him lactched and then I can keep going. It’s easier to readjust after they unlatch while on the go. Practice before you go out on the trail (or store). It helps with your confidence when they are hangry. – Keira, Lexington Branch In a front carry SSC, wearing layers and practicing loosening the shoulder straps to lower the baby is key! Nursing tanks with a shirt over makes it easy to lift the top shirt and still have a covering on your stomach. It also prevents baby from sticking to you (I have sweaty kids) while hiking. With a little practice, I was able to very discreetly feed my son on the trail or out in public and keep going. – Suzanna, Akron Branch Use gear that works for you I really love hiking with a short woven wrap because it makes it really easy to move baby from back to front or hip to nurse and keep on moving. For toddlers who want to walk on their own feet but may still want to nurse, a ring sling is awesome. They pack down small and it's super fast to get kid up and then back down when they're ready. – Courtney, Charleston/Lowcountry Branch For me, layers are great. My favorite combo on the trail is a synthetic nursing tank top with a zip jacket or button-down shirt. Not having to pull my clothes up or down in weird ways allows me to get baby to latch quickly and usually I don't have to stop and remove my pack, etc. – Sarah, Albuquerque Branch Learning to nurse in a carrier was one of the most freeing skills I ever acquired as a parent. I could simply loosen the straps on my SSC carrier to give my baby access and she would contentedly nurse as I walked along. In fact, she got so used to nursing in the carrier that she would grab for the carrier, even when home to tell me she wanted to nurse! The carrier hood also served as a good cover for those times I wanted to be more discreet. It worked so well that I once had a Monk (we were visiting a monastery) come up and pat my daughter on the head when she was nursing, thinking she was simply snuggling! – Rachel, Charleston/Low Country Branch I loved how so often you couldn’t even tell I was nursing, like in this photo. – Rachel Minimize breastfeeding stress on trail If you’re nervous or shy about nursing in public or on the trail, find another mama to nurse with! It's a huge confidence booster when there are 2+ of you sitting together feeding your babies. It definitely helped me the first couple times nursing in public without a cover. – Sandy, South King County Branch My advice is to make it awesome. Find the best possible spot with the best possible view and own it. Make it something to look forward to. – Kathryn I personally don't like nursing in a carrier while walking/hiking because my kids would gag or choke if I was moving. I LOVE the "no hiker left behind" mantra of HiB because I never feel awkward asking to take a nursing break. Luckily, both my kids are fast eaters, so it's never a long stop. My advice: if you're not comfortable hiking while nursing, don't feel bad about asking to stop! – Colleen   What are some ways you’ve successfully nursed on trail that weren’t mentioned here? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below. Read more: Ways to get back on the trail after having a baby Babies on trail: 4 ways to feed your baby on a hike 9 Tips for soothing a cranky baby on the trail How to prevent clogged ducts on trail Photos by Jessica Human and Andrea Leoncavallo, as well as courtesy of Kiera Wickliffe and Rachel Adams.    ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. 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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Enjoying Outdoor Summer Adventures with Little Ones
CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FRIENDS AT ERGOBABY Don’t let the higher temperatures keep you inside this summer! Even with the littlest additions to your family, there are ways to stay safe while exploring in warmer weather. With extra preparation (and maybe a few new gear items), your family can stay cool while enjoying those long summer days. Check out these tips for what to wear, when and where to go, gear to consider, and fun activities that will surely put a smile on everyone’s face.   What to Wear You may think less clothing is best in warm weather, but you may do more harm than good going this route. The radiation from the sun is most potent in summer since the earth is tilting towards the sun in these months. That means the risk of damage to your skin and eyes is at its highest. Consider these clothing options to cover up the skin (especially sensitive baby skin!) while keeping cool. Sun-Protective Clothing Avoid the sunscreen battle by purchasing sun-protective clothing. This clothing, whether a shirt, pants, etc., offers sun protection while keeping the wearer cool. Look for lightweight options with a UPF rating 50+ for maximum sun protection. Sun Hats Keep those little faces and necks protected with a quality sun hat. The wider the brim, the better protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Since the face, ears, and neck are three of the most common areas that develop skin cancer, this article of clothing is essential, especially for little ones. Sunglasses Who doesn’t love a cool pair of shades? They also happen to protect your eyes from damage. Just be sure to look for ones with 100% UV protection to protect those developing eyes (especially if your kiddos have a habit of looking right at the sun after you tell them not to). These clothing items will help tremendously, but be sure to still use sunscreen on any exposed skin for anyone 6 months of age and older (for younger babies, speak to your pediatrician for recommendations on skin protection). Look for a water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher. Check out this post for more information on choosing a sunscreen and staying safe in the sun.   When and Where to Go When adventuring in the heat, try to aim for early-mid morning or later in the afternoon. The amount of solar radiation hitting the earth is highest between 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. During this time, the temperatures rise, and there is a higher risk of sun damage (especially for sensitive kid skin!). You can also check the UV index on most weather apps to determine how high it is for your location at any time (read this blog post for more information). If you plan to hit the trail or the park, seek options with plenty of shade. This not only makes for a cooler adventure, but it also cuts down on the amount of ultraviolet rays that reach you. Another great option is to choose a trail or location with a water feature. This could be a beach, a creek, or a splash pad. This will help everyone cool off and enjoy the rest of the adventure.   Gear to Consider While we always recommend bringing at the 10 Essentials whenever hiking or adventuring away from civilization, here are some other items to consider (or take special note of) while exploring in the heat. Hydration and Snacks While water and extra food are part of the 10 essentials, I wanted to note them here because they become even more essential in high temperatures. Generally speaking, during moderate exercise in mild temperatures, an average adult should drink around half a liter of water per hour. This number can double a liter per hour during especially hot and humid outings! Kids old enough to drink water should drink roughly half as much as their adult caregivers. Drinking water isn’t enough when you are sweating in the hot temperatures. You also need to replenish the electrolytes and nutrients (such as sodium and potassium) lost through sweat. Check out this article for tips on how to pack trail snacks for summer hikes. Child Carrier So many child carriers are on the market, and they are not created equal, especially when carrying a young one in the heat! For summertime babywearing, seek a carrier with lightweight, breathable fabric without sacrificing support. We love the Omni Breeze from Ergobaby because it’s highly breathable and allows you to carry your little one from newborn to toddler in various positions with no extra insert needed! If you’re looking for an option with a bit more stretch while staying supportive and ultra-lightweight, Ergobaby also has the super breathable Aerloom Baby Carrier, which is one of the lightest carriers on the market (it’s less than 1.5 pounds!). Cooling Accessories If your adventure takes you into the heat for a longer period of time, consider adding some cooling accessories to your gear list. This could be cooling towels (such as Frogg Toggs), portable fans that attach to your stroller or carrier, or a handheld mister to keep your family cool. These products promote the evaporation of moisture from your skin, which can help you better regulate your body temperature in hot conditions. This is especially important for little ones since they are less efficient at temperature regulation compared to adults. Stroller As temperatures rise, attaching a little portable heater (aka your child) to you may not be the best option. Taking along a stroller can be a lifesaver for both caregiver and child! It provides shade and airflow for your child and makes for a less stifling experience. I generally suggest jogging or all-terrain options for trails, but these strollers aren’t as practical for most other summer adventures. Instead, seek out a stroller with features that work for you, such as decent storage space, compact folding capabilities, and a sunshade that provides ample protection from the sun. One great option is the Metro Deluxe Stroller from Ergobaby. It is suitable for newborns to preschoolers with its near-flat recline and plush padding. It also folds up super small, making it easy to travel with or store in almost any vehicle. The adjustable handlebar and expandable storage basket make this stroller work for almost anyone and any adventure. Fun Summer Activity Options There are so many fun ways to explore the outdoors in summer! Here are some of our favorites that are sure to leave everyone smiling while you make lasting memories: Seek Out a Water Source There’s nothing quite as refreshing as playing in the water on a hot summer day. Here are some fun options to keep your family cool while making fun summer memories. Pool Time – Whether you belong to a local pool or have a small toddler pool in your backyard, pool time is a wonderful way to escape the heat while enjoying the outdoors. Creeks, Rivers, and Waterfalls – My family absolutely loves hiking to a water source on hot summer days! These could be slow creeks, narrow rivers, or glorious waterfalls to splash in. Splashy fun also makes the hike back more comfortable and bearable. Splash Pad – Babies and toddlers love sticking their hands and feet in the fountains and features of a splash pad. Head to the Beach – If you live near a lake or the coast, visiting the beach is an obvious choice for summer fun! Little ones love to build sand castles and stick their toes in the surf while hunting for crabs or shells. Farmer’s Markets and Festivals Farmer’s markets are fun to get outside while supporting local farmers and businesses by enjoying local produce and products. Festivals also provide fun entertainment (and rides for some) and delicious, unique food options. Fruit Picking Strawberries, blackberries, peaches, oh my! Picking fruit is such a fun experience, no matter your age. Seek a local you-pick farm to see which delicious fruit (or veggie) options grow near you in summer. Find a Nature Center Many state, local, regional, and national parks have nature centers on their lands. While each center varies, you can find a nice respite from the heat by exploring what they offer and learning about the local flora and fauna. You can also find more information about local trails and programs offered for families and children by speaking to rangers and staff at the nature center. Picnics at the Park Whether the park features a playground, a splash pad, nature trails, or a wide-open field, picnics are a great way to spend time in nature as a family. Pack a cooler or basket with some favorite foods, set out a blanket in a shady spot, and you’re ready to go! Fly a Kite There's just something mesmerizing about watching a kite soar through the air. Both of my boys loved watching me fly a kite in the summer breeze. Now they have their own kites to fly and are still mesmerized! Camping You may think I’m crazy for suggesting summer camping with little ones, but it’s totally doable! With some extra planning (and a little extra equipment to cool you down), camping in the summer may turn into your favorite adventure yet. Check out this post on how to camp with kids in the summer. Nature Scavenger Hunt Who doesn’t love to hunt for nature’s treasures? You can make this a teachable moment for little ones and have them seek out something in every color of the rainbow, or have them practice their numbers by finding 2 leaves, 3 acorns, etc. You can also make them a list of natural items and have them cross them off as they move down the trail. Check out this post for even more nature scavenger hunt ideas. Geocaching You can try geocaching if you want to take your treasure hunting further. Simply download the app (aptly named “geocaching”) and input your location to find caches near you. From there, you can click on an option to find the GPS coordinates, clues, difficulty level, etc. Everything can be done straight from your phone (no special equipment required). Just be sure to have a pen handy to sign the register when you find one! Check out this post for more information on geocaching with kids. Explore the Zoo Visiting the zoo is usually a big hit with kids of all ages, no matter the season. The great thing about visiting the zoo in summer is that they usually have shops, restaurants, or indoor exhibits along the way so you can take a break from the heat as needed.   What are your favorite ways to explore the outdoors in summer with your family? Let us know in the comments below!   Photos by Deanna Curry and Jessica Carrillo Alatorre ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. 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 invest 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 contribute and help us extend our reach.
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How to Find the Best Bike Trails with Baby
Created in partnership with  Are you looking to hit the bike trail with your little one, but not quite sure how to find family-friendly trails? Check out these general tips for getting started and finding baby and family-friendly bike trails near you. As a bonus, we have included a printable sheet to help you keep track of the bike trails you would like to explore with your little one(s) in tow.     Choose a Mode of Child Transportation Here are two great options for biking with little ones in tow. Just keep in mind that neither option should be used with young babies. The general rule for both methods is that a child should be able to sit upright unassisted and hold their head up while wearing a safety helmet. This usually occurs when they are around 1 year old. Also, kiddos should ALWAYS wear a well-fitting bike helmet when riding in either a bike seat or trailer. Bike Seat This is a great option if you have a single kiddo riding with you and you prefer to keep them close by to witness their delight as they take in the scenery. There are a variety of seats to choose from with both rear-mounted seats on the frame or a bike rack and front-mounted seats below the handlebars. Bike Trailer If you’re looking for something that will haul your kids along with a decent amount of gear while also allowing you to get some mileage in on variable terrain, a bike trailer is the way to go. They also have the advantage of protecting kiddos from both rain and sun exposure while they enjoy the ride. With options for single or double riders, you can haul the whole family on your next biking adventure. As a bonus, some bike trailer options (such as the Burley Honey Bee) can easily convert from a bike trailer to a double stroller without having to unload the kids!   Start Slow Riding around with a bike trailer or seat attached to your bike will take some getting used to for both you and your little one(s). Start with some short rides around the neighborhood or nearby paved trails to get used to the feeling. This allows you to work out any kinks you may encounter, and it gets your body used to hauling the extra weight. You can gradually build up to longer distances and rougher terrain as you all get accustomed to the setup. Know Before you Go Mother nature has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. Be sure to check both current weather conditions and trail conditions right before you set out on your biking adventure. This helps you avoid getting caught in an unexpected storm or diverted by a last-minute trail closure. I like to check All Trails and other sites for recent comments and reviews on trail routes before I go. Recent visitors often put alerts when trail conditions are poor, or trail closures have occurred that may not be listed elsewhere. Also, when choosing an unpaved trail, research ahead to make sure the trail is wide enough to accommodate your set-up (especially when using a bike trailer). There’s an App for that There is an app for just about everything these days and finding bike trails and routes are no different. You may even discover that some of the apps you use for other outdoor activities (such as those listed below) offer route information for biking as well. Here are just a few popular apps for finding routes that fit the needs of your family and tracking your progress along the way AllTrails I use AllTrails often when out hiking, but they also have options for finding bike routes as well. Simply open the app, click on the filters button located on the top right (directly next to the search bar), and scroll down to activities. This will allow you to see the stats for trails in your area along with recent reviews from other visitors. This is a great way to determine if the trail is maintained and appropriate for your family. Trailforks This app relies on crowd-sourced information and includes conditions reports, live tracking, and even points of interest along the way. The maps can be downloaded to your device for offline use in case you venture into an area with low reception. Strava This popular app is widely used to track and analyze your route for hiking, biking, running, etc. However, it can also be used to explore new routes listed by other users, connect with friends and family to share your adventures, and even join fun challenges to reach your goals. It has saved me multiple times when I got turned around on a route since I could track my location and follow my way back to the start if needed.     Choose Fun Scenery or Destinations Looking to build anticipation or provide motivation for your next family bike ride? Here are some options that are sure to make even the youngest riders excited to strap in. Ride to the Playground or Park: Most littles will jump at the chance to strap in with the promise of a playground visit or a fun picnic at the park. Explore a Nature Trail: Live fairly close to some fun nature trails? Strap the family in and bike there! You can let the kiddos explore the trail and tire themselves out before hopping back on the bike for the ride home. Visit the Library or Local Museum: Parking lots can be horrendous, especially during the summer months. Take a ride to your library to check out some new books or stop by the local museum to explore the exhibits without battling other visitors for a spot in the lot. Stop for a Treat: Ice cream or hot chocolate? Yes, please! Work in a stop at a local ice cream parlor, coffee shop, or general store during your ride to add a sweet surprise to your family biking adventure. Bike to the Beach or Pool: Finish a long ride with a refreshing swim at the beach or local pool. Don’t forget the sand and pool toys!   Don’t forget to keep track of your biking adventures! Here is a handy sheet you can print out and stick to the fridge to help motivate you to hit the bike trail with your kiddos as much as possible. Photos by Jessica Human & Michelle Pearl Gee. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. 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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5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Kids Hydrated in the Summer
CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FRIENDS AT Fifty/Fifty. Summer is here and with it comes more sunlight! These longer days mean many of us have more time to explore nature and spend time together as a family outside. Whether you are hiking, biking, walking through your neighborhood, swimming, enjoying summer sports, or meandering tourist attractions, you know it will be hot. And with the hot weather comes the need to drink lots of water.  Unfortunately, the need to stay hydrated and the desire to run, play, and explore often do not go hand in hand with our kids. With this in mind, we have a few tips to help keep your family hydrated all summer (really all year) long! 5 Easy Ways to Keep Your Kids Hydrated in the Summer Get everyone their own water bottle. This is such an easy way to not only encourage your children to drink more water (who doesn’t love a fun water bottle?), but it also helps you monitor how much water they are drinking each day. Fifty/Fifty has a ton of really beautiful water bottles available that are not only perfect for keeping you and your family hydrated all year long but are priced well too! Pro-Tip: When adventuring with younger children, leave your child’s water bottles in the car and just carry extra water with you to share. This way, when you are done they have an easy source of water to drink on the drive home.  Make fruit-infused water. Adding a little fruit to water is sure to encourage everyone to drink more water simply because it tastes good and it's different. Berries, cucumber, mint, and citrus all taste amazing when added to water. Serve lots of high-water-content foods. Foods like watermelon, berries, citrus, and cucumbers have a lot of water in them and will help keep you and your children hydrated. Pack these foods when you go adventuring and use Fifty/Fifty’s insulated containers to keep those water-filled foods from leaking. Add a straw. This is such an easy way to encourage kids (and some adults) to drink more water. Not only do people generally drink more sips of a beverage when it comes from a straw, but straws also allow us to take larger sips than we would without them. Model drinking water all day. We know children watch our every move and want to do what we do, so use this to your advantage. Drink water from your new water bottle all day long or refill your water glass more often and drink it in front of your kids. Make sure to take water breaks when hiking or exploring and ensure your children not only drink water but see you doing it too. Model the behavior you want to see and you may see it more from your kids.  Photos by Jenn Canjar and Kim Ives What are some ways you help keep your kids hydrated? ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITOR’S 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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7 Tips for Safety on Trail With Kids
We adventure with our kids to make memories, but many fear about safety on the trail. The good news is, families can minimize many risks by following some simple guidelines when hiking with kids. What are they? Here are seven tips for safety on trail with kids. 1. Share your plans with others Always tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back. Leave a copy of the trail map and mark your route with a highlighter so others will know where you're headed. Once you're at the trail head, be sure to sign in at the trail register if there is one. 2. Bring more food and water than you need Pack more food and water than you think you'll need on your hike. Water is key, and how much you need varies with terrain, temperature and age. A general guideline to follow is 4 cups (1 liter) of water per adult for every hour of hiking; and children need 1-2 cups for every hour of hiking.  You may also want to carry a Lifestraw or water filter as a backup. Encourage children to stay hydrated by letting them carry a pack with a bladder inside. Or make sure to stop for family water breaks at certain intervals, or even add a little something flavorful to their water.  Energy bars are a great way to carry extra food without a lot of bulk. Look for bars specifically made for kids. Photo credit: Deanna Curry 3. Be prepared for big changes in weather If you’re hiking in the mountains, make sure every person in the group has at least one extra layer (like a fleece jacket) and a stocking cap. If rain is even a remote possibility, bring rain gear - a backup rain poncho can do the trick and it is light and small to carry. For young children, packing an entire set of extra clothing or several extra pairs of socks can be a lifesaver. If you're carrying your child, dress them warmer than if they were walking. Some families carry hand warmers, mittens or extra layers of long underwear as well. 4. Bring a first aid kit and know how to use it You can purchase kits from companies like Adventure Medical Kits, which provide supplies you'll need for a safe hike, or you can assemble your own at home. A few essentials that should be in every kit are Easy Access Bandages, antibacterial ointment, wound-closing tape, gauze, tweezers, an ace bandage, moleskin for blisters, ibuprofen and an antihistamine (be sure to pack these in both adult and children dosages). You should know how to use every item in your kit before you go hiking with it, so be sure to read up on some basic first aid skills, such as how to stop bleeding, how to wrap a sprain and how to remove splinters. Kids can even assemble a small kit for their own packs. Photo credit: Kristin Hinnant 5. Equip your children for safety, too Give each child their own small pack to carry. It can be a small backpack or a fanny pack, and it should have, at a minimum, an emergency whistle, a jacket or extra layer of some kind, a few snacks and water. If a child gets separated from you, they'll have at some survival gear with them. 6. Stay together Teach your kids to keep you in sight at all times, to stop at all trail junctions to wait for the rest of the group, and to stay on the trail.  Also, dress everyone in bright colors (no camouflage on hiking day!) to make it easier to see one another. Photo credit: Ali Chandra 7. Teach your kids what to do if they get lost Preparation is key to this skill. At home, in a low-pressure setting, teach them to stop, find a tree, make a nest and stay put until help arrives. Teach them how to use their emergency whistle – three sharp blasts is the universal distress signal. Remind them that the whistle is only to be used during an emergency -- and check out previous blog posts below for more tips on what to do if they're lost on trail. And last, but not least,  model safe behavior at all times. Don’t take chances. Don’t ignore posted warning signs. Show your kids what it looks like to stay on the trail. Trail safety for your kids always begins with you. Read more: 3 Trail safety tips you must know Losing a child on a trail: preparing your child Losing a child on the trail: a parent's guide 11 Tips for safety on trail Have safety tips you'd like to share with other families? Leave a comment below! This post is sponsored by Adventure Medical Kits, “Providing innovative, high quality first aid and preparedness products for work, home, and your next adventure.” Hike it Baby received compensation in exchange for writing this blog post. All opinions are our own. This article is written for informational purposes only, hike at your own risk. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITOR’S 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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Becoming OutGrown - Jessica Carrillo Alatorre's Story
OutGrown Executive Director Jessica Carillo Alatorre has been a part of Hike it Baby since 2014 where she met Shanti Hodges, the founder of Hike it Baby on her first hike. She is inspired by the passion and commitment of the volunteers who drive OutGrown along with the mission that has created the kind of community she wants her girls to be a part of. She is committed to building a future where the outdoors is a safe, accessible space for all families to enjoy, regardless of their race, gender, ability, socioeconomic status, orientation, or religion. Jessica is proud to be raising a generation to love the outdoors.    When I became a parent, I had recently moved to Portland and didn’t know many people. Of the few people I did know, none had kids. My partner and I had left a very close knit group of friends in the Bay area and I was unsure about how I was going to get through this transition into parenthood without close friends or a sense of community. I knew I wanted to be an active parent, going to the library, walking to the park, and generally exploring and enjoying the place where we lived with my baby. I even convinced my partner we should get a dog so that I would have someone to walk with the baby and me while my partner worked. PS - don’t try having a new puppy and your first baby at the same time, it’s not a great mix! I tried to join a few meetup groups, but was told I couldn’t join until I had my baby. I tried some prenatal yoga and swim classes, but found it challenging to make connections. It seemed like the only option I had was joining my new moms group hosted by the hospital once I gave birth. I did that and met some nice women. One of them shared about a group called Hike it Baby that was for parents who wanted to get outside with their babies. I joined the group’s Facebook page and watched it from afar for a bit before I worked up the courage to go out. I finally joined a real life event when they posted a new parents hike, making it feel more approachable for my healing postpartum body and inexperience with my baby carrier. Boy, do they make those things complicated, especially when you factor in the sleep deprivation of new parenthood!  On the hike, we were greeted by several nice people, we stopped together for a rest, and we sat around in the nature center after, chatting and connecting more while we nursed our babies and had some snacks. It was very informal, but it suited me to be able to warm up and connect without the formality of specific discussion themes or baby care focus I found at my new moms group. As I joined more events, I began to see familiar faces and form connections with people. Through those opportunities, I was able to form new friendships. I started to exchange contact information and get more outgoing in my attempts to be social. I also built confidence in getting out with my daughter. Instead of bringing the whole diaper bag with me, I learned I could leave a stocked diaper bag in the car and just bring some water, wipes, a diaper, and a snack for the actual hike. I learned which carrier I liked best and how to get it on myself with my baby in it safely. It was a huge game changer when I learned how to nurse my daughter while she was in the carrier. I didn’t have to feed her in the car before or after outings or errands, I could do it while walking and shopping. It was SO liberating!   Today, the women who I connected with on those first hikes are still my closest friends nearly 9 years later. We don’t need the excuse of an organized event to get us together. We just reach out and invite each other to mom dates, play dates, birthday parties, camp trips, and more. We have a solid community that we can rely on if we need help. We can count on each other to watch over the kids as they roam in more independent play groups at gatherings, trusting that we all know each other and will keep our collective brood in good care. Finding this kind of positive community and support as a parent has been integral in my own personal development, mental and physical wellness, and general self confidence. Being able to spend time outside with my baby has also been integral. The habits and lessons learned from spending time outside and making friends that encourage more of the same have drastically impacted both myself and my children in a number of physical, behavioral, and spiritual ways. My elder daughter hiked 9 miles on her own two feet at 7 years old like it was just something we do. My younger daughter has always been the family motivator, asking from a very young age for regular “hikeababies” (walks outside). It has also connected us all more deeply to the care and importance of the land, plants, and animals around us and the planet we all share. Both my children are avid defenders of the natural world, pointing out harm and encouraging those around them to make better choices to help protect our planet. Outside time is how we find peace as a family, calming tempers, distracting us from annoyances and worries, and releasing pent up energy.  I want to give those kinds of experiences to every new parent and child who comes into this world.  As I have navigated through the challenges of motherhood, I have often wondered what it would be like for my family without the experiences and opportunities I have had thanks to my Hike it Baby community. I think both my life and my children would be very different and likely not for the better. We live in a world where the impact of social support, holistic wellness, and the importance of time outside for our positive human development is not given enough recognition or priority. More and more people are spending more and more of their time inside, in front of screens and away from the natural world we are a part of. There are significant disparities among who feels comfortable, equipped, and like they belong in the outdoors. These disparities are often similarly reflected across the social determinants of health, across health outcomes for mothers and children, and across other key factors that indicate if we are thriving as individuals. As a community of people, we are becoming more divided and polarized. We see an increase in violence and extremism. We see more impacts from our behavior on our climate, bringing in more extreme weather and an alarming increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters that destroy our homes and lives. The more we disconnect from our planet and the people around us, the more harm we experience. Without those connections to each other and to nature, our future generations are at a significant risk both individually and collectively.  We can have positive, long lasting  impacts across all of these areas with just a few small shifts. What starts as tiny baby steps become leaps and bounds of positive difference as a family grows and children mature.    From the seeds of Hike it Baby, we are expanding on what we’ve learned, letting it root deeply into our community led approach and establishing what we have identified as three core programs necessary for a strong trunk of success in supporting families in getting outside. Hike it Baby will continue to offer a community led approach to outdoor activities and events. Doing so allows individual families to host the type of outings and events that work for them while inviting others in their community to join them, which is a key element in building a community that gets outside together. Bring it Outside will work to address the barriers marginalized families face in getting outside, providing gear, workshops, and a multi-lingual, culturally relevant approach to offer more holistic and targeted support for those who don’t feel welcome, safe, prepared, or otherwise like they belong outside with their families. We believe lowering barriers for those who face the most challenges lowers barriers for all of us, helping to build toward a future where everyone sees themselves as able, confident, and excited to get outside in whatever ways they enjoy most. Turn the Blues Green introduces nature to new parents as soon as they have their babies. Resources and activities will be offered that demonstrate the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside for both the parent and the infant, inviting and encouraging parents to step outside as soon as a baby is born to help reduce the impacts of postpartum depression, the baby blues, and the increased stress, anxiety, and fear that all parents struggle with as they navigate this new transition. We believe that inviting families to play outside together is a powerful way to build community and foster a life-long love of nature. We believe that every child deserves to grow up outside, to be OutGrown. We hope you will join us and help us continue to bring it outside! ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITOR’S 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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5 Tips for Trail Cleanup Safety
Winters can be hard on trails. Many will need both cleanup and maintenance come springtime. You can contact your local or state park system to see if they have anything planned, or you can plan your own trail cleanup hike with your Hike it Baby branch! Hike it Baby offers lots of information on organizing a trail cleanup, and safety is a consideration when participating in a trail cleanup. Some of these things may seem like common sense, but it’s always nice to double check your preparedness whenever you try something new (or for the first time in a while). 5 Tips for Trail Cleanup Safety 1. Bring proper cleanup supplies Certain supplies will come in handy during a trail cleanup. This would include gloves, trash grabbers and bags. It’s a good idea to have the littles carry the trash bag instead of picking up trash. They may not know what they should and shouldn’t touch. 2. Work in pairs or groups Sticking together and staying in communication with the organizer are very important. Make sure you have a charged cell phone or walkie-talkie with you. A compass could also come in handy if you're off the beaten path. Make sure someone knows exactly what area your group will be working in. Check in often with the organizer and stay close to your partner or group. Or, if you're hosting the hike, help the group stay together and communicate the meet up locations and times. 3. Bring your normal safety supplies All normal hiking injuries can occur on a trail cleanup. In fact, after winter, the trail will likely be in worse shape than usual, so be prepared. Make sure you pack your typical first aid kit, plus plenty of water and snacks. 4. Give the kiddos simple tasks The concept of trail cleanup is super important to share with our kids beginning at a young age as it teaches them to be stewards for our trails and parks. It’s even better to reinforce as they get older. That being said, not every trail cleanup is organized with young children in mind. If attending a hike organized by another group or parks department, speak to the cleanup organizer before deciding whether or not you will bring young children. Make sure there will be tasks suitable for their age and ability. With supervision and proper gloves and grabbers, tiny people are great at holding trash bags, spying trash, and they love to use trash grabbers! Older kids can also be great to pair with younger kids. If hosting your own hike, make sure you communicate what supplies to bring and provide safety tips during Welcome Circle. 5. Use caution Don't ever touch anything sharp or lift anything too heavy. While you will typically feel totally awesome after participating in a trail cleanup, you might not if you cut yourself and get an infection. After winter, there could be trees or large branches across the trail. Don’t try to be the hero and lift something too heavy on your own. Even professional bodybuilders use a spotter to lift. Bring a notepad with you and document anything you can’t handle. Then give this list to the trail cleanup organizer so that the proper crew can address it. (Or, if you're hosting, contact the parks department with the information.) For toddlers and little kids, have them spot the trash ("I spy!") instead of picking it up. This will ensure they aren't picking up anything dangerous or unsanitary. What are your safety tips for trail cleanup? Have a question about safety while participating in a trail cleanup? Leave a comment or a question below! Read More: 11 Tips for Safety on Trail 3 Trail Safety Tips You Must Know Photos by Vong Hamilton. Hike it Baby hikes are hosted by volunteers who have no professional training and are not experts to guide families on hikes. They are people who want to raise a generation to love the outdoors and they accomplish this by facilitating outings for all to join. Our tips are gathered from collective experience. As with any physical activity, please be sure to check with your healthcare provider and other experts when hiking with your children. ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. 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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Explore the National Parks Through Books
While National Park Week is celebrated in April, why not celebrate our National Parks all year long with books! Try reading one of these books and get inspired to take a future trip! All Aboard! National Parks by Kevin & Haily Meyers This wildlife primer is a great way to introduce the youngest of children to the national parks! Children begin their journey by boarding a train and travel the country by visiting some of the most amazing parks. They'll meet an animal common to each park as they pass through by train. Bright colors, whimsical illustrations and landforms of the parks will capture the attention of the youngest of readers. A collection of animal prints is also featured in the book. Mule Train Mail by Craig Brown Meet Anthony. He may look like a cowboy, but Anthony is actually a postman. Working with his team of mules, Anthony makes the mile-long trek down the South Rim of the Grand Canyon delivering mail, groceries, water and more to the people of Supai, a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Anthony and the mules endure steep trails and even rain to make sure the villagers get their mail and other necessary supplies. Detailed, colorful illustrations show readers what the Grand Canyon looks like from all angles, not just from the top. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the Havasupai Head Start program, which helps children in Supai develop early reading skills. Your Guide to the National Parks by Michael Joseph Oswald With so many national parks to explore, it may be helpful to sit down with a book and explore all of your options before planning your trip. Your Guide to the National Parks contains more than 450 photographs and plenty of kid-friendly activities. If you're looking to visit more than one park, Oswald includes 11 suggestions for multi-park road trips that include sites of interest as you venture from one park to the next. Lodging information and hiking trails are also included, making this book a perfect companion as you hit the road to explore America's treasures. For more information, including maps of the parks, visit www.stoneroadpress.com. National Parks Guide U.S.A. by National Geographic Kids Are your summer travel plans taking you to a national park this year? If so, grab a copy of National Parks Guide U.S.A., the kids’ companion to National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the U.S. In this guide, you’ll be able to read about the different regions of the country and the national parks that find their homes in each region. Within each region, there is a guide for the specific national parks where readers will find pictures, history and websites. The individual sections also provide ranger tips, where to find the best views, checklists for what to do and maps showing some of the sites you don’t want to miss! Readers will also be able to discover what plant and animal life to expect in each of the parks. This guidebook would be especially helpful in getting older children excited for a trip to a national park, and it will have them helping plan trips for the future too! ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITOR’S 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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How to Plan for Camping in Summer with Kids
With the hot weather approaching, camping in summer can be a challenge when you're trying to keep cool while also trying to enjoy everything the hot temps have to offer. Of course, how you’re camping is a big factor in how you can prepare for this. Some families primarily use campers, while others use a tent in campgrounds they can easily drive to. These folks aren’t limited on space or weight. However, many families also hike into their campsites and need to be conscious of how much they’re carrying with them because the heat can add some frustrating layers to the camping experience. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this, but we hope these tips will help you plan ahead and enjoy camping in summer with your family – regardless of those higher temperatures.     Cleanliness is relative Remember, the first rule of camping in summer is that cleanliness is relative. While it’s worthwhile to pack some lightweight PJs or an extra set of clean wicking clothes to sleep in, your kids may be dirtier than normal after a long day of play. If they’re used to a bath or shower before bed, it may be harder to follow your normal routine. However, try to integrate something small from your nightly routine to offer a bit of distraction, such as reading. If cleanliness at bedtime is important to you, remember that kids, clothes and sheets wash well. And if you’re car camping, your campsite may have showers that you can take advantage of. But if it doesn’t, or you don’t feel like making the trek there, just don’t stress about it. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes can go a long way! Embrace the dirt! You’ll be dirty, kids will be dirty, just get hands clean enough for safe food consumption and roll with it. –Gaila, Ames, Iowa The uninvited guests: ticks and bugs If you’re camping somewhere that ticks are prevalent, make sure you check everyone for ticks during the day and especially at night before bed. Citronella coils and butane-based repellents can also be fantastic insect deterrents that you can use safely at night near your campsite. Mosquito netting may be super beneficial depending on whether or not you’re sleeping with any windows open. For strategies on bug protection, check out this blog on Tips and Tricks for Applying Insect Repellent or read about what the CDC has to say about Tick: Prevention, Removal, and Symptom Checker. How to handle eating while camping in summer Keep it simple! Cooking over open flames in the summer increases your exposure to heat, so reserve your hot meals for dinner when temperatures drop a bit. Sandwiches are great camping options for just about any meal or snack, and the same goes for breakfast foods like cereal bars, oatmeal and ready-made waffles or pancakes. To save time on food preparation, you can prep meals in advance and freeze them. It will help keep the non-freezable items in your cooler cold; plus, it gives you some great ready-to-heat meals. More popular options include bringing a cast iron pot to make meals over the fire and cooking up foil pack “hobo” dinners in the coals. Read this blog for ideas on easy kid-friendly camping recipes. If you have a little who eats in a high chair, check out portable options that fold up small and are easy to assemble. They often can stand on their own or attach to a picnic table to contain your little one! Disclaimer: If you’re camping in bear country, you’ll need to follow a special set of rules for food – from preparation to storage to consumption, and everything in between. Your local ranger stations can be a huge benefit, so make sure you chat with them and get instructions. Sleeping in the heat with little ones If there is one thing we know about sleeping as adults, it’s that it can be hard to come by when our sleeping space is too hot. The same is true for our kids, so you may need to plan ahead for how you’re going to get them to sleep. After all, the sounds are different, and sleeping in a different bed may affect your kids more than you realize. So how do you help your little ones to sleep? "While less clothes may seem better, it makes for a lot of uncomfortable sweat,” says Katie of the Butte County, California, Hike it Baby branch. Think of thin, breathable fabrics for everyone. Wicking athletic shirts can be fantastic for night use as well as during the day for camping in summer. Fans can be great too. Even if you’re not in a camper with electrical hookups, small battery-operated handheld fans can create a nice, needed breeze day or night. Melissa of the Sydney, Australia, branch also suggests placing a wet cloth in front of the fan to create DIY air conditioning. Summer temps can be especially challenging for those midday naps, so you’ll definitely want to take advantage of any opportunity to cool down. If you prefer to sleep separately from your little one, portable cribs can be great! And if you’re car camping and have room, bring them! They can be used for naptime during the day and bedtime at night. Pro tip: portable cribs are worth bringing even if you don’t use them for sleeping. Pop a mosquito netting over the top and you have a great bug-free zone for littles. Or, if you need shade, add a crib sheet to the top to create a shaded play area!   Consider the camp site If your area offers it, choose a site near a body of water. They can be a great opportunity to rinse off dirt and mud and cool down, whether during the day or before bedtime to help little bodies relax and rest. However, keep in mind that you may want to prevent your little ones from having easy of access to it. This is particularly true if you have stealthy little ones who can open tents and go for excursions while their exhausted parents sleep. We all know how fast our little adventurers can move, so you may want to select a site that’s a short walk from a lake or river instead of having waterfront access. If it’s the main source of water where you’re camping, check out this post on treating water for consumption. Taking care of business One of the biggest challenges we face as parents is potty training. More specifically, potty training in new and different situations and locations. So potty training while camping in summer offers some unique challenges for little people who are still learning where they can – and can’t – go, especially at night when the closest potty may be a trek away. So, while teaching them how to go in the woods is an important lesson, it’s not always practical. Lyndsey of the Monadnock Region, NH, branch recommends using an “OXO Travel Potty on top of a bucket lined with a heavy duty trash bag with kitty litter” for a great campsite potty. And she adds that this setup can work well for parents who may not want to leave their little ones alone in the camp while they go potty. Keeping kids occupied during downtimes Camping is all about the experience, and toys aren’t 100% necessary. After all, we’re enjoying time together outdoors as we support our kids in their explorations. With that said, there are some great campsite-friendly toys that can keep little hands busy while you’re setting up or tearing down camp, preparing food or putting a sibling down to sleep. Because, as we all know, nap time is an important strategy for preventing meltdowns at camp or on the trail. A handful of toys can be helpful in terms of sheer containment while also adding to the sense of discovery. Think about bringing simple toys that align with the camping experience. Magnifying glasses for seeing worms, spiders, snails or other small creatures can be a lot of fun. And in the case of thunderstorms and you have to head inside the tent, books and cards can be a great backup plan! Bring dirt toys: buckets and shovels that they can play with around the campsite. –Juliana, Fairbanks, AK How to get organized for camping in summer So now you’ve got all these great suggestions and hacks, but how do you get them all organized? After all, organization is your best bet for making the most of your time at the campsite, including setting up tents and other sleeping arrangements quickly so you can spend more time playing. In a perfect world, you can have an extra set of camping gear that you pack in totes. If you can set aside sheets, blankets, cookware, lanterns, etc., in storage containers in the garage, an extra closet or the basement or crawlspace, it makes it much easier and quicker to pack your vehicle. Similarly, this makes it easy to prepare for bedtime, so you’re not hunting for that fan or set of lightweight PJs while your family is getting ready to hit the sack. I keep our inclement weather gear in [plastic stacking drawers] at all times. I have another drawer for small incidentals like matches, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. There’s a drawer devoted to diapering, which I try to keep fully stocked with diapers and wipes for each kid. I pack our clothes into another drawer and it helps keep us a bit more organized and space efficient than using backpacks for everyone. –Nicole, Mountain Home, ID Remember the most important part of camping The number one most important part of camping in summer with your family is to have fun. Sleeping in the heat may be hard to come by some nights, whether from the excitement or the actual temperatures, but pack your coffee and enjoy the giggles and new experiences. It's all about the experience. Don't stress. –Carrie, Boulder, CO The reality we’ve all learned along the way is that it’s best to have a plan, and then to be flexible. After all, there will be some contingency that crops up that you don’t plan for. It will all work out; you’re creating memories with your family that everyone will cherish. Does your family also camp and have a few tips and tricks for camping in summer? Please share in the comments below; we'd love to hear about more hacks.   Read more: The ultimate guide to camping with kids Pros and cons: car camping vs tent camping What to look for in a kid-friendly camping site Photos by Deanna Curry ABOUT OUTGROWN OutGrown is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information on all of our programs can be found at WeAreOutGrown.org  EDITOR’S 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.