OutGrown Blog

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Create an Outdoor Legacy for Your Children
“We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” ― David Brower Summer is here. With that, the chance to make goals and opt to improve yourself and your family in some way.  Let’s collectively come together and choose to create an outdoor legacy for our children. That’s right. Let’s pass on some variation of going outside and enjoying nature. Let’s be the river and slowly carve out an appreciation and love of the great outdoors for our children. What is an Outdoor Legacy? Simply put, an outdoor legacy is an impression you instill in your children about the outdoors. It is the long lasting impact your actions surrounding the outdoors have on your children. It is how your children will approach the outdoors when they reach adulthood. Leaving this outdoor legacy behind doesn’t happen overnight. It is something you will continue to foster and develop throughout your child’s life. Even after your children are adults and long gone from your home, you can still actively engage your children in outdoor adventures that feed into the outdoor legacy you want to leave behind. Why Create an Outdoor Legacy? According to a 2004 study, 90% of adults participating in outdoor activities were first introduced to them between the ages of 5 and 18. In other words, exposing your children to the great outdoors during their childhood will likely result in their continued enjoyment of nature as adults. That's why at OutGrown we offer support and resources for families with babies to get outside. Knowing the earlier the exposure to nature, the higher the probability a child will connect with the outdoors and the benefits of time outside. And when only a mere 18% of adults and children spend time outside once a week and a solid 54% of individuals who currently do not participate in outdoor recreation are content to remain indoors, it is important to consider the impact we, as parents, have on our children in regards to getting outside. How to Create an Outdoor Legacy for Your Children Don’t worry, creating this outdoor legacy is not difficult and not nearly as daunting as it may seem. It is absolutely something you can ease into and still leave a beautiful and lasting outdoor legacy with your children. Here are some simple ways you can begin. Set an outdoor expectation for your family Invite your entire family to help you create an expectation for getting outside each week. Start off with an attainable goal that you can all hold yourselves accountable to and then once you consistently meet that goal, reevaluate it. And if you are like me, and set lofty goals, it is absolutely okay to lower your expectations of yourself and your family. Adjust the expectation to meet your family’s abilities. Getting outside is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Don’t lose sight of that. Create outdoor focused traditions Outdoor traditions are another way that you can get your family outside and create lasting memories together. Here are just a few ideas, but there are so many traditions out there to choose from. Join Hike it Baby on New Year's Day for a First Day Hike Go for a hike in your holiday jammies and join the Holiday Jammies Hike Challenge (hosted by me on Instagram - @familyinwanderland Dress up in costumes and go for a hike, maybe add it in as part of your Halloween traditions. Give back to nature! Create a tradition of picking up trash once a month in a local park  Add an outdoor adventure into an already existing family gathering. Maybe start a tradition of going camping, fishing, or for a hike every year for your birthday. Walking or running a 5K as a family. If you don’t already, consider creating the tradition of an annual camping trip. You can absolutely rent a cabin or an RV, no need to sleep on the ground if that isn’t your cup of tea. But, the idea is to foster a love of the outdoors and camping absolutely allows you to soak in a ton of nature. Maybe your parents have an outdoor themed tradition you can renew. Something you remember doing as a child, but no longer do regularly? Bring it back and put your family’s own spin on it. Need more inspiration, try this post on outdoor holiday traditions. Take indoor activities outdoors Another way to spend more time outside and help pass on a love for the outdoors and create positive nature-related memories is to take your indoor activities outside. These are just a couple of examples, but just about anything can be done outdoors. Family read aloud in the backyard. Serve a meal outside picnic-style. Do homework on a blanket or outdoor table. Take indoor toys (legos, dress-up clothes, dinosaurs, etc.) outside for playtime. Make it fun and keep trying! Don’t forget to make it fun! Mix it up and do different activities outside. Host tea parties or themed hikes for some additional fun. And remember to keep trying. Often when we set goals for ourselves and our families, we tend to feel bad when those goals are not achieved. And if you are like me, when we feel bad, we start to get frustrated when our loved ones are not as into an adventure or activity as we want them to be. Don’t worry. If your last outdoor adventure was an epic failure (I’ve been there so many times), you can always try again another day. Repeatedly taking your children outside and continuing to share how to protect nature with them shows them it is important. They probably won’t remember the time they screamed at the top of their lungs for an entire quarter-mile on a busy trail or when they complained about all the roots on the trail. But, they will remember the general feeling that being outside gave them. They will remember the memories you create together and the amazing adventures and things they see. So be like a river and create the path for outdoor enjoyment for your children to follow. Create memories and develop skills. Create an outdoor legacy for your children. Some additional reading on this topic: 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Out of the House When Life Gets Busy 10 Tips to Raise the Next Generation of Adventurers in a High-Tech World How One Family Makes Getting Outdoors a Priority Learning in Nature: Programs that Promote Love for Nature 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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Easy, Fun Ways to Have a Playful Picnic
Created in partnership with   One of the things I love most about summer is the picnics. There’s something special about relaxing at a park on a warm afternoon after exploring the sights and trails nearby. It’s easily one of my favorite family outings! Over the years I’ve learned that adding fun and easy touches to a picnic can add excitement to your adventure. It also tends to have the side benefit of motivating my kiddos to keep moving down the trail to make it to the post-hike goodies.  As you work towards your 10 Park Challenge this month, consider these easy, fun ideas to increase the playfulness of your family picnic. Charcuterie Board, Picnic Style If your family is like mine and prefers to graze on a variety of goodies during outings, the kid-friendly charcuterie box is a great option! You can re-use those old veggie or fruit trays from your last barbeque or even use a clean tackle box and fill it with all your family’s favorites. For us, we prefer fruits (like blueberries and grapes), veggies (especially peppers and carrots), lunch meat, cheese, crackers, nuts, etc. My kids love to help choose which foods fit and fill the tray before we head to the park. Freeze it If you’re heading out for a fun adventure on a hot day, take along some frozen treats to enjoy such as frozen grapes, frozen yogurt tubes, frozen fruit pouches, etc. Even if they thaw out before you dig in, they are sure to provide a cold, refreshing treat on a toasty summer day. Animal Themed Foods One of my favorite snacks as a kid was “ants on a log”. It was simply peanut butter on a celery stick with raisins on top. I thought it was the coolest thing, and my parents were sneaking in veggies without me fighting it. I now make this snack for my own boys, and my older son will pre-make a batch and stick them in a container for our trips to the trail or the park. We top them with raisins, blueberries, and even chocolate chips for a sweet treat. Another fun animal-themed snack is butterfly baggies. Simply fill a snack bag with one or two snacks, cinch the middle with a pipe cleaner, and add a googly-eyed clothespin to finish them off. Simple and fun for kiddos to enjoy and play with during a picnic. Cookie Cutters – Not Just for Cookies You know those cookie cutters you tend to store for 11 months out of the year and pull out just for holidays? You now have an excuse to dig them out of storage and use them to make fun sandwich shapes. Our favorites are the star and evergreen tree on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We also use the mini-cookie cutters on fruits and veggies such as cucumber slices and watermelon. They make for a fun surprise and encourage kiddos to eat more fruits and veggies (who can resist a heart-shaped slice of cucumber?). Food Art Encourage your kids to “play with their food” to create fun pictures. Whether it’s cut-up fruits and vegetables, crackers, cheese sticks, etc., you may be surprised at what their creative minds come up with! Simply use a napkin or plate as a canvas, provide some examples if needed, and watch them smile and laugh. The best part? Clean-up is easy and nutritious. Skewer it I remember one barbeque we attended where they provided some fun fruit and veggie skewers as an appetizer. My picky older son thought they were the coolest thing and ended up eating more fruits and veggies in one sitting than he ever had before (some of which he refused to eat when offered at home). I asked him what he loved about them, and he replied “Mom, they’re on a stick!” as if it was the most obvious answer. Ever since then, I will often bring fruit and veggie skewers on outings. I usually cut the sticks in half, pile on a pattern of fruits and veggies such as strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, and grapes, and put them in a bag to enjoy at the park. Chase the Rainbow My family loves “Rainbow Picnics”. We head to the fridge (or grocery store) and pick out foods from every color of the rainbow to take along with us. Once we settle down with our picnic, we create a rainbow with our food before chowing down on our colorful goodies. Here are some options we enjoy for each color: Red – Strawberries, red peppers, grape tomatoes, watermelon, salami Orange – Carrots, orange slices, orange peppers, cheese Yellow – Yellow peppers, pineapple, banana Green – Green grapes, Kiwi, Sugar snap peas, cucumber Blue – Blueberries Purple – Purple grapes, cherries, purple peppers Don’t Forget the Drinks One of my favorite things as a kid was adding fresh fruit to homemade lemonade. We would make the lemonade the night before and bring it to the park along with an assortment of fresh fruit (such as strawberries, limes, and watermelon). You could also make some decaf sun tea or even just a special bottled drink from the grocery store. Looking for an adult beverage without the side effects? I love to bring along some non-alcoholic brews to enjoy during a picnic, especially following a hike. My favorites are the Upside Dawn and Free Wave brews from Athletic Brewing Company. They’re refreshing without compromising my mental state. As a bonus, this company donates 2% of sales to protecting and restoring local trails like the ones we frequently visit. Pick Your Own Fruit One of my favorite things about our time in Washington State was blackberry season. We would go for a hike and snack on the blackberries growing all along the sides of the trails. Now that we are in Virginia, we have enjoyed mulberries and the occasional wild strawberry. Just be sure you know EXACTLY what the fruit is before noshing on them to prevent consuming inedible varieties. Common fruit varieties that ripen in the summer include blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Have the Kiddos Choose My oldest tends to be a picky eater. When we pack a picnic, I let him choose which fruit, veggie, and sandwich he brings, and we pick a special “picnic treat” at the grocery store. For older kiddos, you can have them make and/or pack the picnic cuisine themselves (with some guidelines if needed). This can add to the excitement since they get to surprise you with what they chose for the family.   We want to see what goodies you bring along on your next picnic! That’s why Hike it Baby has partnered with Athletic Brewing for a #showusyoursnacks social media challenge this month. When you are out visiting parks and enjoying your outdoor time this month, be sure to snap a photo or reel of how you and your family likes to enjoy snacks on the go! Be sure to tag @hikeitbaby @athleticbrewing #10parkchallenge #showusyoursnacks and 3 friends you think will participate in the challenge, and you will be entered to win a stocked cooler backpack from Athletic Brewing Company! (Be sure to make your settings public so we can see your posts and reels!). What playful ideas will you come up with?  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 one family finds big adventure in nature's details
When 5-year-old Ansel was born, he came two months early and was just over 3 lbs. We were nervous because he was so small, but we were also eager to get out of the house. We waited until he was about 4 months old to head outside. For our first outing, we went to Yosemite National Park and got him his first mile hike in. We played it pretty easy that first time and hiked to Mirror Lake and back. We had such a great time that we decided we wanted to continue visiting the park throughout the seasons. We had never gone out there in November and it was such a different environment with all of the fall colors, so we made a commitment to visit once in the spring, summer and fall. We also wanted to do a Father’s Day backpacking trip every year, so in June when Ansel was 10 months old, we did our first backpacking and camping trip with him. We knew what we needed for ourselves but we had to figure out what we needed for him. He was only crawling so we knew he wouldn’t wander away. We were just more worried about sleeping at night and if that would work out with a baby. But it went well! We didn’t have any surprises and he really loved it and loved crawling around on the rocks and exploring everything. Since becoming parents, we’ve had to scale back some of our adventures. Even now we haven’t gotten back up to the mileage we would get on a backpacking trip; and if Ansel is walking, we go pretty slow. We do smaller adventures, but they're still big in terms of fun and they still scratch that itch to get out and explore. Part of what I like about backpacking is going off trail and finding some hidden spot I can still do that is 2-3 miles. It’s more work to find a place with a special spot when you aren’t going as far but it can still be done. Ansel pays a lot of attention to the local area that I would have otherwise walked by. The best part about exploring nature with a child is watching the joys of continual discovery that he has. You can see that in other places but in the outdoors, it happens so much more. To Ansel, every stick is exciting. This one is a sword and that one is a motorcycle. They are all sticks, but they are still so exciting. And he can sit by a stream and throw rocks in it for an hour. Outside time is one of the things that we have focused on with Ansel since he was young and helping him feel comfortable in the outdoors … the outdoors is a big piece of what we love. And now with little brother Tycho joining the family, I know things will be more complicated and difficult than before, but that's not going to stop us.  We've already got our fall Yosemite trip lined up, but I bet this kiddo is going to get his first mile in before that. What epic adventures has your family experienced? Let us know in the comments below! Photos courtesy of Ryan Idryo. Read more: How one family makes getting outdoors a priority Nature babies: why having young kids in nature is so important for their health Often in the OutGrown community, the question is asked what “adventurous” means when you are a parent. And the answer is different for all of us. For some, it’s climbing a mountain with a frame carrier fully loaded or doing a huge backpacking overnighter with a new little. For others, it’s ditching the stroller for the first time and trying a dirt trail, or just letting the kids spend leisure time climbing rocks and jumping in puddles. There are so many levels of “adventure” when you have little kids, and we wanted to share stories of families who have redefined adventure on their terms. We hope it inspires you to get out and have adventures YOUR way 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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Celebrating the changing seasons: the summer solstice
What is the summer solstice Summer is here! That means long days, short nights and rising temperatures to enjoy. For those of us with kids, it means early sunrises, late sunsets and a lot of “but the sun is out!” arguments for waking us up early or staying up late. The summer solstice marks the first day of summer and falls on June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere this year. It has been celebrated for centuries and is associated with everything from the start of the new year in ancient Greece to the feminine “yin” force in ancient China. Monuments such as Stonehenge and The Great Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre are thought to have been constructed in alignment with the sun’s position on the summer solstice. So what is so special about this date and time that makes it the solstice? Let’s look at the science behind it. On the summer solstice (also called midsummer in some cultures), one of the earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt (23.44 degrees) toward the sun. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this occurs on June 21 and marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year. In fact, countries and territories north of the Arctic Circle (such as Alaska) witness what is called the “midnight sun” and the sun is visible for a full 24 hours. While we consider this day the start of summer in the United States, other cultures consider it closer to the middle of summer. Regardless of which way you look at it, this is a day worth celebrating! Here are some activities, crafts and book recommendations to help your family celebrate the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Activities  Sunrise or sunset hike — Take the family on an early-morning hike to greet the sun on the longest day of the year. Don’t want to wake up that early? Try a sunset hike instead, and stay to watch the starlit sky come to life on the shortest night of the year. Welcome the sun with yoga — Lead your family through a few rounds of sun salutations to give thanks for the blessings the sun brings us. You can follow it up with a few poses depicting some of those blessings, such as tree pose and flower pose. Discover more family-friendly yoga poses in this article. Spend time with the flora — Without the sun, plants couldn’t exist, which in turn means that animals couldn’t exist. What better way to show your gratitude for the sunlight than by spending time in the garden or visiting a farm to give thanks for the bounty that is made possible by the sun. Create a summer nature table — Putting together an area where kids can place items that remind them of summer is a wonderful way to kick off the season! The area can be as small as a plate with a few items or as large as a table with numerous summer projects displayed. From seashells collected at the beach and postcards from a vacation, to summer crafts and potted flowers, any items that remind your family of the endless fun of summer will work! Get S’More Out of Summer — Kick off summer the right way by picking up a copy of L.L.Bean’s “Guide to Getting S’More Out of Summer.” This guide not only helps you plan out your family summer adventures, but also provides checklists of fun activities for the whole family, fill-in-the blank prompts so you won’t forget a thing and fun stickers to add to the motivation of enjoying summer. And you can win cool prizes for participating. Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #SmoreOutofSummer and #LLBeanContest2019 (must include both hashtags). Click here for more information on the contest. Craft ideas Make a flower crown — Celebrate the season with a bright and sunny flower crown. If dandelions are plentiful in your yard this time of year, here is an easy tutorial for a dandelion crown using no extra materials. Then you can harvest the dandelion greens to make a yummy salad! Looking to save the flowers and leave no trace, or you don’t have dandelions in your yard? Here is a tutorial that uses fake flowers to create a gorgeous summer crown. Create a sundial — Teach the kiddos how ancient humans determined the time of day by using the shadow cast by the position of the sun. This easy craft can make a great addition to your garden or outdoor play area. Construct a sun suncatcher — Capture the beauty of sunlight with a sun-shaped suncatcher! This craft is sure to brighten your day even when the weather turns gloomy. More sun crafts — Celebrate the longest period of sunlight with a sun-themed craft. Here are a plethora of easy options to try with your kids. Summer books to read As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” These beautifully illustrated books help children of all ages understand what happens as spring turns to summer — starting with the longest day of the year. BIRTH– 3 YEARS Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Ye — Follow a spunky little girl as she finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool on a hot summer day. From catching butterflies to searching for frogs, the author focuses on appreciating the small but special details that define the summer season. Summer Is Here by Heidi Pross Gray — Read along as the author covers some of the best highlights of summer, from picking blueberries to diving into water on a hot day. Amazing watercolor illustrations and rhythmic, whimsical text lead the reader on a summer adventure in this book. I See Summer by Charles Ghigna — Pea pods, cucumbers and strawberries provide plenty of opportunities for counting in the garden! This brilliantly illustrated, summer-themed book gives readers an opportunity to search and learn with hidden numbers on every page. 4 YEARS AND UP The Longest Day – Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer — This book takes readers on a journey through the history and science behind the summer solstice, with a focus on summer celebrations from various cultures around the world. The author also uses kid-friendly language to describe the science behind summer phenomena, such as the growth of a butterfly and the longer day length. And then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner — Lyrical text is used to describe the sights, smells, sounds and favorite outdoor activities of summer. The book is accompanied by cheerful illustrations depicting the joys of summer and is enough to get anyone excited for the warmest season of the year! Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun by Deb Vanasse — See summer through the eyes of an Alaskan girl as she enjoys the “midnight sun” of her region. With beautiful illustrations, follow along as she dances, watches wildlife and stays up late with the sun that doesn’t set. How does your family celebrate the summer solstice?  Let us know in the comments below! Read more: Celebrating the changing seasons: the spring equinox 10 Ways to enjoy the last days of summer Swinging into summer: 7 tips for having a positive impact on nature Photos by Stephanie Jacobson, Whitney J. Fox Photogrpahy (courtesy of L.L.Bean.) and Arika Bauer. This post is sponsored by L.L.Bean.
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Is Your City Involved in the 10 Minute Walk Initiative?
Have you heard about the 10 Minute Walk Initiative?! No? Well, if you think that increasing access to parks and green spaces can lead to better overall physical and mental health, especially during a health crisis, or that your overall quality of life would improve with close access to green space, then you’re already on board with this new program. Photo by Monique Vargas 10 Minute Walk Initiative The 10 Minute Walk Initiative aims to “...ensure that everyone in your city has safe, easy access to a quality park within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050.” That’s not just their mission for already more green-friendly places in the nation like California or Colorado, that’s their promise for the WHOLE COUNTRY. Check out their website to see if your mayor and your city are taking part and if you don’t see their name, do what I did and sign up to stay on top of how to get involved. Maybe you can even convince your mayor to take part. If you’re reading this you are already part of the growing Hike it Baby community and you know that a cornerstone of their mission is to Leave No Family Behind. If you’re changing a diaper, feeding your kid, having a meltdown (you or your kid!), if you can’t do the whole hike or if it’s your first hike we won’t leave you behind! This extends to race, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, and language. This is of course still our mission but we have realized that many families are being left behind by default because they do not have access. This is unacceptable. We need to do better and that’s why Hike it Baby wholeheartedly supports the 10 Minute Walk Initiative. To ensure no family is left behind, we have to make sure that all families have easy access to safe parks and green spaces. OutGrown works to be the most effective hub of tools, information, and community inspiring all families with babies and young children to get outside and connect with nature. Learn more about OutGrown's mission and how you can get involved. 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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Exploring National Parks with Kids
There are over 60 protected areas that make up the national parks. The national parks are a great way to expose young hikers to nature in so many different forms. From mountains to wildlife and everything in between, there's so much to explore. Tips for Exploring the National Parks with Kids America's national parks have something to offer visitors of all ages. To make the most out of your trip to the park, whether it's for an hour or a few days, plan ahead with these tips! Explore the park's website or purchase a guidebook about the national parks. With so much area to cover in each park, you will only be able to see what time allows. Plan ahead for your must-sees, whether that's taking in a sunset at Grand Canyon National Park or hiking to a waterfall at Rocky Mountain National Park, planning ahead will leave you with a feeling of accomplishment at what you did and saw instead of disappointment about what you missed. Plan for souvenirs. Leave no trace and leave everything as you found it. Instead, visit the park's gift shop and collect souvenirs from each park you visit. Patches for backpacks or pins for bulletin boards will help keep your memories alive as well as leave the park complete for all visitors to enjoy. Stop at the Visitor Center. Make sure to stop at the visitor center before you begin your exploration. Park rangers can provide you with maps and lists of daily activities to help plan your journey. They will know what trails and areas are best for young kids to enjoy. Research OutGrown online resources before you go.  The OutGrown website is a great resource for gathering information on head to the blog to read up on all our national park resources, and the Family Trail Guide offers kid-friendly hiking trails across the U.S. and in national parks. National Parks Fun Facts Indiana Dunes National Park received its recognition as a national park just a few years ago. It was previously designated a national lakeshore. The smallest national park is Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri. California has the most national parks out of any state with 9. There are 29 states with at least one or more national parks. Accessing the National Parks All Year To take full advantage of the national parks, here are some ways to make visiting easy and affordable. Senior Pass: Seniors can purchase a lifetime pass for the national parks for $80. This pass allows free entrance for seniors and passengers in their vehicles. Seniors wishing to purchase an annual pass may do so for $20. More information can be found here. America the Beautiful Pass: This annual pass is available for $80, and it allows you to enter all the national parks for a one-year time period. Access Pass: This pass is available for free for U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. U.S. Military: Current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard are eligible for free annual passes. Reserve and National Guard members are also eligible. Free parks passes for 4th graders: As part of the Every Kid Outdoors initiative, 4th graders are eligible to get a pass that allows them free entrance in the national parks. All 4th graders (and their families) are able to access the parks for a year from September to August of the child's 4th grade year. The Every Kid in a Park initiative selected 4th graders to receive the free passes because research has shown that kids ages 9 to 11 are beginning to learn about the world around them, and they are open to new ideas and likely to connect to nature and history. Information for educators and parents is also available. The year my daughter was in 4th grade, we got the 4th Grade Pass because we had plans to visit several parks that year (Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks). Unfortunately, it also happened to be the year I got laid off work. While it was unfortunate, it turned out to be the best summer of memories for our family - especially for my daughter and myself as we set off for a cross-country drive out West to visit family. We took advantage of the 4th Grade Pass and added on Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks to our road trip. The Pass is such a great opportunity for families to travel and save some money while building memories. –Vong Hamilton   Photos by Arika Bauer and Vong Hamilton. 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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Raising Trail Heroes: Teaching our Children Trail Stewardship
Having Kids Increased My Appreciation of the Outdoors My husband and I have always been passionate about the outdoors and the environment. Our appreciation of the trails and land has become significantly greater since becoming parents. Unfortunately, the amount of excuses that we have for not practicing trail stewardship has also increased. However, we try not to let that stop us. My youngest child and I spend almost every day in the outdoors with our Hike it Baby friends, neighbors or with the rest of our family. We feel it is our responsibility as members of the outdoor community to take care of the trails and the land. It is a family goal that trail and land stewardship be a fundamental part of who we are and we want to pass that on to our kids. Having Kids Means We get Creative About Trail Stewardship In our home state of Washington, there are plenty of organizations that provide opportunities for adults, families with older children and teenagers to work on the trails and learn how to be land stewards. Trail stewardship activities look a little different with a 3-year-old in tow. In order to introduce our kids to the idea of trail stewardship, we do the following: Read books about our local and national park system, as well as ecologists and conservationists Study the trails we are going to hike Focus on Park Rangers (see Hike it Baby's Ranger Interview Series) Talk about trail volunteers (who we call Trail Heroes) Draw pictures incorporating stewardship ideas Be mindful about appreciating the work of others along the trail. Kids can help maintain trails by clearing mud off stepping stones or wood bridges While still focusing on having fun in nature, as our kids have gotten older, we have encouraged them to be active stewards. We are always brainstorming ways to incorporate stewardship into our Hike it Baby branch. I reached out to Krista Dooley, Youth Programs Director for Washington Trails Association, for some insight and advice on activities that are Hike it Baby-friendly, and she had a lot of great suggestions that are truly helpful to the trail. Kid-Friendly Trail Stewardship Ideas Remove debris in between decking of puncheon bridge structures to reduce buildup and prevent slipping. (Kids enjoy using small sticks to push the debris through the spaces between the decking). Clear off trail signs that may have collected moss or debris over the winter/spring seasons for easier navigation. Throw fallen limbs or rocks on the downhill side of the trail to clear the corridor, but be careful to look for switchbacks and hikers on trails below. Bring along an extra bag and gloves to pick up any trash along the trail. It can be turned into a game to collect as many pieces of trash during the hike. (The winner is the clean trail queen/king of the day.) Even the young walkers can help move sticks and other debris off trail. Kids Can Make a Difference on Trail Obviously, land and trail stewardship looks different when babywearing parents or toddlers do it. But it is still valuable and the benefits are abundant. At home, every member of our family is a valuable part of our team and is treated with equal respect. Our children have age-appropriate responsibilities. While, I would be lying if I claimed that they never complained about it, they more often than not enjoy the pride they feel through contributing. They are more cooperative, have abundant self-confidence, are less frustrated and are happier in general. Recent research would suggest that we are not the only ones experiencing these benefits and numerous studies support the idea that children can and should contribute. The same system works on the trail and, in addition to the positive benefits listed above, it has notably increased their ability to appreciate the trails and nature, and it has also deepened their connections to the outdoors. Be a Trail Hero We began to make an effort to mindfully include trail and land stewardship into our lives. A couple months later my 3-year-old and I were out hiking when we came upon a small toppling stone wall along the side of the trail. I thought it was too big of a challenge. My daughter, however, stopped and began to carefully lift the rocks in her tiny hands and rebuild the wall. We worked slowly but soon the wall was finished and we continued on with other wonderful adventures that day. However, as we drove home that night and discussed our day, the thing she focused on was that she had helped fix the wall and was proud to be a “trail hero.”   Lindsey lives in Washington State with her husband, Andrew, and their two children. She has a spirit for adventure, a fierce passion for public lands and a grateful heart. When she isn't hiking or spending time outdoors with her awesome family she enjoys reading, playing the Ukulele, and eating too much chocolate. 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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6 EASY WAYS TO ENJOY A RAINY DAY OUTDOORS WITH KIDS
CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH OUR FRIENDS AT STONZ   Spring is here! For most of us, that means blossoming flowers, warmer weather, and lots of rain. While the rain is excellent for all those spring flowers, sometimes it is easy to feel like you are stuck inside. But fear not! The rain absolutely does not mean you and your children need to remain indoors. In fact, rainy weather is another way to enjoy nature with your children. It really all comes down to comfort, right? Getting wet and cold doesn’t usually feel comfortable, but that all changes when you are wearing the right clothes! Yup, playing in the rain is actually a blast when you don’t have to worry about feeling cold and soaking wet. The saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes,” exists for a reason and we’re excited to share Stonz boots and rain suits to help you dress your family for rain play success! Stonz is all about helping parents raise children to be adventurous, go-getters, explorers, and more, and offers so many wonderful types of boots and rain suits (and other outdoor gear) to help do just that! Their gear is earth-friendly and comes with a year warranty, plus their footwear is pediatric seal certified. Stonz has everything you need to enjoy a rainy day with your kids! They have solid-colored Rain Boots and adorable patterned Rain Boots. Their rain boots are made of 100% Natural Rubber, and are super easy to put on and take off, which means you can promote independence for your kiddos, which makes getting outside that much easier! Plus, they have high-quality 100% waterproof rain suits and a boot that can also act as a dual rain boot and winter boot. They are offering the Hike it Baby Community a discount of 10% off your purchase with code HIB10 so be sure to check out those new spring rain boots today!                                                      And once your family is ready to enjoy the wet weather, here are 6 easy ways to enjoy a rainy day outdoors with kids. 1. JUMP IN PUDDLES This is as easy as it sounds! Put on your rain boots and rain suits and work together to create the biggest splash; try to run and jump over big puddles, run through puddles, and let your children just enjoy the puddles to their heart’s content. 2. SAVE THE WORMS When it rains our worm friends try to escape the water by climbing onto drier surfaces that are usually unsafe for them, such as sidewalks, driveways, and bike paths. Saving the worms is so easy and kids absolutely love it. All you do is teach your children to gently pick up the worms and move them to a safer spot. If your children are too young to pick them up gently, they can be your worm scout and find them and you can move them. 3. SING AND DANCE This is a perfect way to enjoy a rainy day, especially if your little humans love to sing and dance. Just throw on your rainy-day clothes and enjoy being silly with your kids. Make up your own rain dance or song about rain, mud, or puddles. If you have a covered outdoor space to protect your electronic devices, you can blast some tunes to dance or sing along to. Having fun is the most important part. 4. GO FOR A RAINY DAY WALK This walk can be as simple as meandering your neighborhood or it can be more adventurous by walking a favorite trail (paved or gravel may be best). Wherever you walk, look out for all the ways the area is different in the rain. One fun activity is to find a sewer drain and watch the way the water rushes around debris and into the drain. 5. PLAY IN THE MUD Another great thing about rain suits and rain boots is that they are super easy to clean off and are perfect for mud play. So find a muddy spot and make mud pies, build mud castles, and enjoy the mud with your kids. 6. GO FOR A BIKE RIDE IN THE RAIN Another really fun way to enjoy the rain is to ride bikes in it. Kids love riding their bikes through puddles and watching the water spray up. And rain suits and boots will keep your little ones dry as they zoom around enjoying their bikes in a new type of weather. Author: Katie Fox Katie Fox is an outdoor enthusiast who spent three years traveling the US with her family in an RV full-time and finally put down roots in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Katie is a mom of two, an elementary school educator, and spends her free time hiking and exploring as much as possible. She also tries to squeeze in time to bake, visit all the local coffee shops, and read (way too much). She co-founded the HiB Butte County California branch and currently volunteers as a blog contributor for HiB National and is an Executive Team Member for Run Wild My Child. Follow Katie’s outdoor and parenting adventures on Instagram @hiking.motherhood   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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Lucy's Story
THIS BLOG IS PART OF OUR ELEVATING VOICES SERIES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH  L.L.Bean Meet Lucy Crespo, the Northeast Urban Community Engagement Specialist at the National Wildlife Refuge Association. We had the pleasure of meeting Lucy when she was the Director of Youth Initiatives at Groundwork Elizabeth. At the time, she was hosting the first Mother’s Day event at Phil Rizzuto’s Park in 2022, along with US Fish and Wildlife and our Bring it Outside Program. This celebration was focused on making the day special for moms that receive support from Josephine’s Place Women Empowerment Center. When we heard Lucy’s story that day, we knew we wanted to share it with our community. Growing Up Outside Lucy’s family immigrated from Argentina to the United States when she was almost three years old in search of  “The American Dream.” They arrived to a new world full of lights, cars and skyscrapers that seemed to cover the land (New York) leaving their small town Rio Ceballos behind. It took a couple of years for this family to adopt America as their new home, but eventually, Elizabeth, New Jersey became that place. Over time, they missed Argentina’s mountains, grass, rivers and creeks that crossed their town so they ventured for that place that reminded them of their home.     Lucy’s family ventured outside of their neighborhood in search of a place that could fill this void in their lives. They started visiting every park they could find; Kellogg’s Park, Phil Rizzuto Park, and many others. This young woman grew up surrounded by nature because her parents wanted her to have the same opportunities they had enjoying the beauty of this world. Lucy’s parents organized camping trips for their daughters to continue the tradition of spending time with nature; through that, Lucy began to fall in love with nature as it connected her to her Argentinian roots. In 2014, Lucy joined Groundwork Elizabeth and went on a trip to Yellowstone National Park, which proved to be life-changing for her. She grew her knowledge in train maintenance, habitat restoration, and leadership skills. For years Lucy traveled to many National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges around the country leading groups of youth in the battle to preserve our nation’s open spaces. Lucy led efforts at Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Lenape National Wildlife Refuge Complex just to name a few. Then using years of knowledge to preserve public lands back in New Jersey and educate communities as mentioned in the video.     Lucy and her partner Douglas, now have a two-year-old son named Enzo. They work together to provide Enzo with a better life, surrounded by nature. Her ultimate goal as a mom is to create a better environment for her son which consists of keeping the air, soil, and water clean for him and the future generations. Lucy shares, “I hope Enzo will carry out the culture of outdoorism. I have taught him since the moment he was born to love, appreciate, and respect nature.” Lucy now works with the National Wildlife Refuge Association using her experiences to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in NJ, NY, and PA with their Urban Partnerships within surrounding communities.   Lucy & Maria’s Advice for Parents Lucy says to “appreciate every moment you have with your children. Bring them outdoors! Make those memories – that’s what they will remember the most. Maria Lincuiz (Lucy’s mom), agrees, saying “take your kids out! Take your kids to the park. If you are worried about money, just go for a walk!” Lucy’s mom is so proud of the way Lucy is raising her son, and how much she exposes Enzo to nature.   We are so honored to work with Lucy, and her mom, and to witness the development of three generations of outdoors lovers!     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 as Hike it Baby, OutGrown is a growing community of 280,000 families and over 300 volunteers. You can find additional information on all of our programs at WeAreOutGrown.org   EDITOR’S NOTE: We're thrilled that you are reading this article from OutGrown. Our team is dedicated to bringing you valuable content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain. However, creating quality content comes with its costs. It's the result of the dedication and hard work of our writers, editors, and volunteers who truly believe in the mission of connecting families with young children to nature and fostering community.   As a non-profit organization, we rely on the support of our amazing community. If you are in a position to help, we kindly ask for your contribution to help us expand our reach and continue providing valuable content for everyone. No matter the amount, every contribution counts and allows us to keep growing and making a difference together.  
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Hike it Baby Book Club: Grateful for Nature
As we focus on this season of gratitude, the Hike it Baby Book Club has compiled some awesome book selections that help remind us why we are grateful for nature!   The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor A young girl discovers that her impoverished family is rich in things that matter in life, especially being outdoors and experiencing nature.         When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan When Grandma gives you a lemon tree, definitely don’t make a face! Care for the tree, and you might be surprised at how new things, and new ideas, bloom.         All the World by  Liz Garton Scanlon All the world is here. It is there. It is everywhere. All the world is right where you are. Now. Following a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning until night, this book affirms the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to the warmth of family connections, to the widest sunset sky.       Giving Thanks by Jonathan London A father passes on to his son the gift of seeing the beauty around him — and giving thanks. Thank you, Mother Earth. Thank you, Father Sky. Thank you for this day. How can a young boy ever show his gratitude for all the beauty he sees? He will learn from his father, who thanks the earth and the sky, the frogs and the crickets, the hawk and the deer — even the trees that wave their arms in the breeze.         Apple Cake: A Gratitude By Dawn Casey In this simple rhyming story, a child says thank you for the gifts nature provides, from hazelnuts in the hedge to apples from the tree, eggs from the hens to milk from the cow. Eventually, the family has enough ingredients to make something special…a delicious apple cake!         When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant This classic story highlights the simple pleasures of country living, both indoors and out.           Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You by Karin Ireland Learn about different animals in various habitats, while exploring nature with children in Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You. This inspirational book for kids will also allow children to develop a deeper appreciation for the life lessons one can learn by observing nature outdoors.           The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein "Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. This moving parable for all ages offers a touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.       Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers Here is Oliver Jeffers' user's guide to life on Earth. He created it especially for his son, yet with a universality that embraces all children and their parents. Be it a complex view of our planet's terrain (bumpy, sharp, wet), a deep look at our place in space (it’s big), or a guide to all of humanity (don’t be fooled, we are all people), Oliver's signature wit and humor combine with a value system of kindness and tolerance to create a must-have book for parents.       Snowflake Bentley by  Jacqueline Briggs Martin From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful.      Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet by April Pulley Sayre  Thank You, Earth introduces concepts of science, nature, and language arts through stunning photographs and a poetic text structured as a simple thank-you note.  Touching on subjects from life cycles to weather, colors, shapes, and patterns, this is an ideal resource for science and language art curriculums and a terrific book for bedtime sharing.      Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp  Giving Thanks is a special children's version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations.                  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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10 Fun Outdoor Family Holiday Traditions
The holidays are fast approaching, and with them comes family traditions. Between baking cookies, decorating the house and classic holiday movies to watch, we tend to spend a lot of time indoors. Itching to get outside and connect with your family in nature? Here's a list of ten fun outdoor holiday traditions to enjoy the beauty that nature brings to the holiday season. 1. Turkey Trot Many cities across the United States hold a race or fun run around Thanksgiving. These fun events usually include something for the whole family, with options for runners, walkers and even kid races! Costumes are encouraged (who doesn’t want to dress their kids up as turkeys?!), and prizes are often given throughout the event for finishers and best costumes. Some families have also created their own “turkey trot” traditions closer to home or on a favorite trail. We love doing a "turkey trot" (an organized run or just our family trotting around the neighborhood) the morning of Thanksgiving. – Christina from the Snohomish, WA, Branch 2. Outdoor Family Game Time Growing up, my mother would always kick the kids (and my father if he was trying to “taste-test” the pies) outside while the turkey or ham was cooking on Thanksgiving and other holidays. We played soccer or touch football, or we'd have snowball fights if there was snow on the ground (I grew up in Colorado, so the weather was always unpredictable!). As I grew older, I always looked forward to these family “mini-tournaments,” and it’s one of the things I look forward to the most when we go home for the holidays. 3. #OptOutside for Black Friday The #OptOutside movement was started by REI in 2015 as a way to move away from the crazy commercialism that occurs on the busiest shopping day of the year, and move toward finding the immense value of spending time outdoors. REI (along with a growing number of businesses) shut their doors on Black Friday and encourage their employees and customers to enjoy the outdoors as opposed to spending their day inside, waiting in lines or rushing from store to store. This mindset has grown into a tradition that many families have adopted, including many of our Hike it Baby families. The last couple years, we chose to #optoutside for #greenfriday (Black Friday). We love this tradition so much and it's a great way to burn off all those mashed potatoes and pie! – Vanessa from the San Diego Branch Opting Outside on Black Friday in Upstate New York 4. Outdoor Holiday Festivities Holiday festivals and outdoor events seem to happen in abundance in the months of November and December. Many downtown areas hold “Festival of Lights” parades in which the holiday lights are illuminated for the first time during a big celebration. Many zoos have light shows as well, from the “Wildlights” festival at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA to the “Zoolights” Illumination at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. Checking your local newspaper or social media outlets can keep you up-to-date on all the outdoor holiday festivities happening in your area. Our local botanical garden does a million bulb walk every year that's always a hit. Once December rolls around, the lights are drive-through only, but we love to get out in November when you can still walk them! – Melissa from the Hampton Roads, VA, Branch 5. Themed Hike Themed hikes are fun to do with your local Hike it Baby Branch or with your own family!  Here are a few ideas we have done in my branch: Jingle Bell Hike – Attach bells to the shoes and wrists of children (and yourself!), and parade up and down the trail, making a joyful sound as you go! Candy Cane Hunt – Have someone hang candy canes on low-lying tree branches for kids to find as they walk along the trail (just make sure you adhere to the principles of “leave no trace” and remove any extra candy canes or trash before you head out!). Hot Chocolate Urban Stroll – Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? Stop by your favorite coffee shop for some hot chocolate/cider (or bring some along in a thermos), and walk around, enjoying the holiday decorations and lights in a downtown area near you. 6. Neighborhood Light Walk What is one thing the holiday season tends to bring out in abundance (besides cheer, of course)? Lights! Taking a walk through your neighborhood or downtown area after sunset to enjoy the colorful and creative light displays is a tradition that many families share. Worried about bringing the kids out in the chilly night air? Dressing in layers and bringing along a favorite warm drink can keep the chill at bay. Hot cocoa/cider, anyone? 7. Stargazing Walk/Hike Have you ever wondered why the sky appears clearer during colder months? Cold air holds less moisture, which is also why the air is much drier in the winter. Air that is dry is much less hazy compared to moist air, making it the optimal time to stargaze! The best days to stargaze are when the moon is new (totally dark), which will fall on November 23 and December 23 this year. You can bring along a star chart and see how many constellations you can spot along the way! 8. Winter Solstice Hike The Winter Solstice marks the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest period of night. It falls on December 21 if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, which also marks the first day of winter. What better way to celebrate the start of a new season than to get outside and experience it firsthand? Check out this article for other fun ways to celebrate the winter solstice along with some craft and book options. 9. Holiday Walk/Hike Did you know that there are extra health benefits to walking before and/or after a big meal? Walking before a big meal can increase your metabolism and decreases the amount of fats and sugars that accumulate in the blood after a hefty meal. It can also decrease appetite, making you feel full faster, resulting in smaller portions of that yummy turkey, stuffing and pie consumed (and more leftover turkey sandwiches!).  Light or moderate walking following a large meal also increases your metabolism, helping you burn off those mashed potato and pie calories more quickly. You may want to hold off on the marathon right after a large meal though; your body is already exerting a lot of energy trying to digest the colossal mass of food you just consumed! Last year we worked off our holiday dinner by doing an evening glow-stick walk/hike. It was super fun! –Melissa from the Capital Region Branch 10. New Year’s Day Hike Many families opt for a hike or other outdoor activity (such as skiing or snowshoeing) on the first day of the year as a way to start the year off right. Growing up, my family would take long walks/hikes on January 1, planning out our “New Year’s Resolutions” and discussing how we plan to make the year a great one. What a wonderful way to kick-start the year! We have celebrated New Year's with a "First Day Hike" for the last couple years. I look forward to it immensely! – Ryan from the Central Florida Branch First Day Hike in the Adirondack Mountains Read More: Creative Ideas for Celebrating the Winter Solstice with Young Children 8 Unique Ways to Take Advantage of the Long Nights of Winter   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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Oregon Outdoor Recreation Summit Family Festival
On October 29, 2022, at the Wildwood Recreation Site in Welches, Oregon, through partnership and strength in community, Hike it Baby was able to host a day outside for families from People of Color Outdoors (POCO) and Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization’s (IRCO’s) Greater Middle Eastern Community (GMEC). We were able to bus in families and provide lunch catered by antfarm, a local organization that supports homeless youth with work, community service, and outdoor experience opportunities. Oregon Zoo’s Youth Ambassadors supported our numerous activities and jumped in wholeheartedly to help families play with giant bubbles, make nature crafts, roast s’mores, identify scat and footprints, and enjoy a nature walk. Adventure Without Limits brought an adaptive trail wheelchair for families to see what kinds of options are available if they know someone with disabilities who would like to get outside. Oregon State Parks offered engaging nature interpretation, sharing about the life cycle of salmon and allowing kids to make their own skulls with whatever survival adaptations they could imagine. Numerous and generous corporate sponsors donated gear we could give away. We shared fun resources in English, Spanish and Arabic, and had a robust gear library available for families to use jackets, rain boots, and baby carriers as needed. Watching families cozy up to warm fires, people helping each other ensure small children stayed with our walking groups, and teens run around in costumes while playing with bubbles, was truly a heartwarming experience.       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.