OutGrown Blog

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How my Military Family Found our "Village" Through Hike it Baby
When I met my husband, he was about three years into his career as a U.S. Navy submariner. I grew up with both parents serving in the military for over 20 years each, so I knew the life of a military spouse wasn’t for the faint of heart. Between the constant moving, the distance from family and the constant deployments, being a military family was stressful even before we became parents. By the time I became pregnant with our first baby, we knew we were nearing a change in duty station. It turned out my husband’s transfer date was right at the end of my pregnancy. With this in mind, we made the hard decision for me to move from Southern Georgia to Upstate New York ahead of time. This would allow me to find a new doctor and settle in before the baby came. At 31 weeks pregnant, I said goodbye to the wonderful friends I had made in Georgia and headed north with my mom and a loaded SUV. By the time we made it to New York, I had terrible back pain. Assuming it was just from the time on the road in a car and pregnant belly, I didn’t think much of it. However, my little dude had other ideas about his supposed “due date.” He decided to make his appearance at just under 32 weeks at a small hospital in Upstate New York while we were visiting family. Fast forward five months, my mom was back home in Colorado, my husband was working long hours on a rotating shift schedule and I was alone with a baby as a first-time mom. I had a really hard time with this new role of mother. I was also terrified to take my baby out into the world for long. When I finally got the courage to get out, I found it difficult to connect with other moms. I felt as though they were either judging me based on my parenting style or leaving me out of a clique that had already formed between tight-knit groups that had known each other awhile. I felt like an outsider. Finding Hike it Baby That was when I came across a parenting group mentioned in one of the local Facebook pages I had joined: Hike it Baby. I was intrigued. Having spent a good chunk of my previous years in Colorado, I had always loved hiking and being out in nature. But how did one do that with a tiny baby? I joined the local branch’s Facebook group and followed along with the hike photos, hiking tips and conversations between the other members. My little guy was about 8 months old before I got up the courage to join a hike. I remember being super nervous. I had no idea what I was doing and had already had poor experiences with other parenting groups. Fortunately, those nerves dissipated almost immediately when I reached the parking lot of my very first Hike it Baby adventure. Members automatically offered a smile, a hello and an offer to help get my little guy in his carrier. I was hooked from that first hike. I never felt judged, regardless of whether my parenting choices, background, views, etc., differed from others'. Two years later, after I had attended and hosted countless hikes, I started a new sister Hike it Baby branch for the more northern members and enjoyed volunteering with an organization I believed in. My little guy was growing up as a Hike it Baby kid, and the outdoors had become both his and my happy place. In addition, we hiked with multiple other branches while on vacation and always felt that community wherever we went. We had found our village. Moving ... Again Soon, we received news that our time in New York was coming to an end. While we were expecting this news, I was sad to leave our Hike it Baby family and the home we had made in New York. After we got orders, I did some research and found an active Hike it Baby branch at our new duty station: Hike it Baby Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. I messaged the ambassadors from this branch and was relieved to feel that familiar welcome that I had become accustomed to from Hike it Baby. Regardless, I was still a bit nervous about having to start all over again in a new place with new people. What if it wasn’t a good fit for us? There was only one way to find out. By the time we reached Washington, I was ready to get out and explore the nearby trails. I started attending hikes and hosting my own. I transferred my Branch Ambassador status to my new branch at the encouragement of the other BAs and took a stronger role in this new branch. Not only did my family find our new village almost immediately, but Hike it Baby members made the transition so much easier for all of us. While my 3-year-old still asked for some of his old friends, he also asked for some new friends he'd met in our new branch. He even enjoyed being my “co-host” on our hikes.. Another Baby on the way! Four months after moving to Washington, I went into pre-term labor with my second child at just under 30 weeks. While they were able to slow down the birth process, I was stuck in a hospital an hour away while my husband was home with our little guy. Although I felt support from the military resources around us, it was our new Hike it Baby family who truly stepped in to help us out. My fellow BAs and other members of our branch didn’t hesitate to take over the hikes I had already scheduled. I got offers left and right to watch my son or help my husband with meals. I have never felt more of an outpouring of love from a community, especially after having only been here a short time! Needless to say, I know that wherever the military sends us, I am confident that we'll have a community we can count on. That’s why I recommend Hike it Baby to all of the military families I encounter. Raising our kids to love the outdoors, no matter where that outdoors may be, and having a supportive, judgement-free environment has helped us cope with the many stressors that come with being a military family. When my husband deploys back out to sea later this year, I know that Hike it Baby will be there when the stress starts to feel unbearable. It takes a village to raise kids in today’s world, and I feel so fortunate that we have found that village in the Hike it Baby organization wherever we end up. Read More: How Hike it Baby Provides Connection for Military Families Join a hike: Find a family, be a community Hike it Baby: More than the trails, it's a community How did you find Hike it Baby and how has it helped your family? Leave your comments below!  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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Wander with Wox
Over the last two years, we’ve had the pleasure of rolling out our Wander Walks programming to over 45 locations across North America.   Our Wander Walks initiative focuses on engaging young families in activity based signage that supports early childhood development and nature based play. For example, a family might be walking through a local greenspace and they see a Wander Walks sign which encourages them to explore a little further, spend a little more time outside, and ultimately it helps them have a positive and memorable experience together. Each sign is guided by Wox the Wander Walk fox and shares movement based activities, stories about native species and indigenous people, and opportunities to practice mindfulness, as well as fun nature facts that Wox tells us throughout the Wander Walk. Signs are bilingual (English and Spanish) and include adaptations for those with altered abilities.    Thanks to partners like Merrell, L.L.Bean, Sunday Afternoons, Turtle Fur, Joules and Burley, we were able to install signs in a variety of locations as both semi-permanent signage in partnership with local parks and recreation departments, and as event kits sent to our Branch Ambassadors, and community partners so they can pack them up and move them from place to place to help get their branches active on the trail. Each kit is made up of 10 signs, which are selected from our library of individual signs, offering the opportunity to pick the best signs for their location.     We’ve really enjoyed seeing where our community has been able to Wander with Wox! Here's some of what people love about our Wander Walk signs.     Hikers can interact with the signs as a group participating on a hike together, or on their own. We partnered with the Point au Roche State Park Nature Center and put the signs along one of their short trails (about a quarter mile). We had several group Wander Walks, but those staying away from others due to Covid concerns especially enjoyed that they could do the Wander Walk on their own at any time.  - Valerie Gregory, Hike it Baby Adirondack Coast NY Branch Ambassador     The signs can be used in a small area, and doesn’t have to be a hiking trail! They help kids engage with nature where ever that nature may be: Wander Walks were a great way to get our students out of the classroom and outside. Our program doesn’t have great access to the outdoors, however we were able to facilitate an educational opportunity for our students right on school grounds with the help of the Wander Walks program. - Sam Giffin, Program Director for 21st Century Grant in Marysville, WA     Wander Walks create a unique, interactive opportunity to go from simply moving along a trail to actually sensing what is happening around you This Wander Walk was interactive for our family, and helped point out things that you might not have noticed.  For example, it made us more aware of bug life.  We also went on the Ice Age Trail, and we actually looked around at what was around us rather than just walked after noticing some of what the signs pointed out.  It was a great outing with my grandkids. - Sue H, Eagle,  WI   To learn more about Wander Walks, reach out to us where you can get a set of your own, or partner with us to develop our next custom Wander Walk sign! 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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4 Fall Crafts You Can Make Using Leaves
Whether it's listening to the leaves crunching under our shoes on a hike, jumping into leaf piles, or smelling the fresh crisp air as we admire the beautiful hues of the harvest season, the sensory experience fall invokes within us all is sure to make a lasting impression on our family as we head outdoors. We can take those memories a step further by creating leaf crafts that we can admire each season. We’ve thought of four simple low prep and low cost crafts to spend time doing with your kiddos this season. Head out to your own backyard to explore and gather different leaves to make these fun leaf crafts! Looking to make these crafts a little more Leave No Trace friendly? Pick up some fake leaves at your local craft shop! Your kiddos can pick their favorite colors and their finished products will last for years to come! Door wreath Materials: Paper plate, glue, leaves, optional: ribbon to hang wreath Instructions: Cut the center out of the paper plate and glue leaves all around the front of the wreath. Use similar colored leaves or mix them up for an even more colorful wreath. Butterfly Materials: Cardstock, green felt, googly eyes, glue, leaves Instructions: Glue two same-sized leaves on a sheet of cardstock, stems facing inward. Cut a long oval out of green felt and glue over the stems. Glue on googly eyes and watch your butterfly come to life! Turkey Materials: Cardstock or construction paper, felt or construction paper in dark brown, light brown, and red, googly eyes, leaves, glue Instructions: Spread glue on cardstock and have child place leaves in a fan shape on the glue. Cut a peanut shape using the dark brown for the body and glue it down over the leaves. Glue on the googly eyes, cut out the waddle with red, and beak and feet and glue down. Canvas tree art Materials: Canvas or cardstock, craft paints in red, brown, orange, and yellow; paint brush/ear swab/folded pipe cleaner (anything that can be used for paint dabbing);  leaves (optional); glue stick (optional) Instructions: Spread the brown paint on your childs hand, and then stamp it on the cardstock or canvas and then paint on a trunk for the tree. Using the red, orange, and yellow paints dab in leaves around fingers and background. Cut or rip the leaves into smaller pieces, then using a glue stick, select an area near the trunk of the painted tree to apply glue and spread the cut of pieces of leaves at the bottom to create the look of fallen leaves. What are your favorite fall crafts? Leave a comment below!   Read more: Easy DIY Nature-Inspired Costume Ideas 4 Easy Winter Crafts for Kids Wox Presents: Winter Frozen Crafts! Photos by 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    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 Nature Near You
Nature is all around you!  Taking a few steps out your front door and down the street, or out the back door to explore your yard will show you that there are a variety of plants, insects, fungi, animals and other wildlife all around you.  Let’s get started exploring the nature near you! Make a Plan Decide where to look - do you want to explore trees, in the grass, bushes or even cracks in the sidewalk?  You’ll find different types of creatures in all of these spots. Looking for more ideas? Think outside of the obvious nature spots.  You can even find dead plants teeming with life.  For example, check out this activity sheet from Oregon Metro and Sneak a Peek at a Snag!  Gather Some Adventure Tools Have your kiddos grab their favorite tools to help them investigate further! Have them grab binoculars, a magnifying glass, a nature journal and pencils, a camera or anything else that helps them explore their environment.  Since you might be holding the phone and using the SEEK app, make sure your helpers have the tools to get excited about identifying native species so they can learn more about the nature around them.  Photo by Ali Chandra   Download the SEEK app Visit SEEK by iNaturalist to download the SEEK App on Google Play or the Apple Store.   Head out the door with your kiddos to go on an identification exploration!  Get down on the ground and see what insects, plants, birds or fungi you might encounter.  Snap photos in the SEEK app to identify what you’ve found. Photo by Kim Ives   Once you head back inside, let’s learn more about what you found outdoors!   There are so many ways to learn more about the nature near you. I don’t know about you, but my kids constantly have questions beyond “what’s that bird” or “what kind of bug is that?”.  They usually want to know what the bird eats, or what kind of predators live off of bugs. Between library books and internet searches, we can find the answers!  To satisfy your little explorers, here are some suggestions on how to take your adventure one step further:   1- Native v Invasive Plant Species What are native plants? The term “native” plant refers to plants that are indigenous to a particular geographic region. Native plants, animals and other wildlife exist naturally in an area, and were not introduced there by humans. They've been in your region longer than you have!     Why are they important? According to the National Wildlife Federation, native plants help the environment the most when planted in places that match their growing requirements. They thrive in the soils, moisture and weather of your region. That means less supplemental watering, which can be wasteful, and pest problems that require toxic chemicals. Native plants also assist in managing rainwater runoff and maintain healthy soil as their root systems are deep and keep soil from being compacted. Native plants also provide the best food, shelter and diversity that wildlife needs to thrive over the long term. Invasive Species are those that have been introduced to an area by humans. They can be very damaging to local ecosystems as they may cause the extinction of native species of plants and animals by using up resources needed by those native plants. They can alter habitats, and if they don’t have any predators in this environment, they may grow unchecked and change the whole ecosystem. Take a look at the plants you identified in your SEEK app, and search on one of these plant finder websites like the The National Wildlife Federation's Native Plant Finder or The National Audubon Society's Native Plant Database.   2- Learn More About Bugs, Worms, Butterflies and Creepy Crawlies There seem to be two camps of kiddos - those who LOVE bugs, and those who are terrified of them! Both groups can benefit from learning more about insects.  Those who love bugs and want to learn more will be excited to see more pictures and learn about how they grow and where they live.  The kiddos that aren’t the biggest bug fans might enjoy learning more about why certain bugs are important, and how they can help the nature around them.  Once you identify some interesting insects, look them up at a place like Insect Identification. Photos by Ashley Scheider   3- Discovering Birds If you happen to find a lot of birds on your adventures, be sure to check out The National Audubon Society's Bird Guide to learn more about the birds you’ve identified. You can find out where they live, what they eat, how they grow, the impact of climate change on them, and even hear their songs and calls.  Maybe you’ll be able to identify some of those calls that you hear all of the time but weren’t sure who was making them!   The best part about checking out the nature around you is that it will constantly change with seasons and weather! What did you find on your adventure today? 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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Getting Out the Door to Explore the Nature Near You
Created in partnership with our friends at    Spending time outside is so important for the mental and physical health of both adults and their kiddos. However, getting everyone ready and out the door can be a daunting task, even if it’s just for a quick walk around the block! We get a lot of questions such as “What should I bring?” and “What if my baby gets hungry or has a blowout?”.  We’ve been there, and we’re here to assure you that it’s likely easier than you think. Check out the following lists of what to bring for nearby adventures (broken up by the age of your little one(s)) along with tips to get you out the door, enjoying nature as a family. What to Bring Regardless of the destination, the question of what you should bring likely rings in your head anytime you head out the door. When you’re heading out for a nearby adventure, consider including the items on these lists in your adventure bag depending on the age of your little one(s): General – include these items regardless of the age of your children Something to Carry Your Gear – you don’t need to get fancy here, anything that is big enough to carry your essentials will work! I prefer either my cross-body bag for short adventures or my small hiking pack for longer treks. You can also use a diaper bag or fanny pack. A Stroller or Child Carrier for Little Ones – This one speaks for itself. I will often bring a carrier for my 3.5-year-old just in case he decides it’s more fun to sit in the middle of the road while the rest of us are ready to continue. It’s easy to strap it on my back and tighten it when not in use. Water – Even short excursions can build up a sweat. Bring enough water for yourself and any little ones who are old enough to drink it (6 months and up), but may be too young to carry their own. Snacks – For myself, I prefer a small bag of almonds or a snack bar if I’m sticking close to home. For your kiddos, see below for some great options broken down by age. Sun Protection for Everyone – Even on cloudy days, the radiation from the sun can damage any exposed skin. Stick a hat on everyone and bring along some sunglasses for those that will keep them on. Also, consider sunscreen for kiddos who are old enough to use it (6 months and older). A Small First Aid Kit – You likely won’t need a large kit for a nearby adventure. You can buy a small pre-made kit or pack your own into a small, labeled bag or container (for example, an old Altoids mints container works great) A Wet Bag (or plastic bag) – This is handy if your kiddo has a blowout or needs a diaper change while you are out. It can double as a trash bag for any snack wrappers or trash you find along the way. Babies- Newborn to around 1.5 years old A Diaper or Two and a Small Pack of Wipes – You never know when your youngest adventurer will have a diaper worthy of an immediate change, so having a few diapers on hand is always a good plan. Also, wipes are great for cleaning up all sorts of unexpected messes (such as spit-up or muddy hands). An Extra Onesie or Outfit in Case of a Blowout – Baby outfits roll up nicely to stash in the bottom of your bag for those times when an outfit change can’t wait. A Pacifier and/or Small Toy – These generally attach easily to your carrier or stroller and can provide entertainment and comfort for your little one. Both of my boys preferred a pacifier on a chain that doubled as a teether along with a small stuffed toy that made noise. A Bottle if Needed - If your little one uses a bottle and you plan to be out for an extended period, pack a serving of formula or breastmilk. A Snack for Older Babies – For babies old enough for solids, bring along a snack such as a fruit and veggie pouch (we like these pouches from Beech-Nut) or melties snacks to enjoy on your adventure. Toddlers – Around 1.5 years old to around age 4 Water Bottle or Sippy Cup – My kiddos prefer to have their own water on hand during nearby treks. This makes it easy to promote hydration since they have their preferred bottle (and it cuts back on post-snack backwash in your water bottle!). A Diaper/Pull-up and a Small Pack of Wipes – As with babies, it’s always smart to be prepared in case your toddler fills their diaper while you’re out and about. Also, wipes are lifesavers when wrangling a messy toddler who discovered a mud puddle or messy snack. Snacks! – My toddler would live off of snacks alone if I let him. We bring along some easy-to-handle finger foods that won’t make too much of a mess. Our current favorite are these mini Waffles with Hidden Veggies in Pumpkin, Apple, and Cinnamon from Beech-Nut since they are tasty while also sneaking in some veggies. A Change of Clothes – Whether it’s a blowout or a massive mud puddle, toddlers tend to be magnets to all things messy. Rolling up a spare top and bottom in your bag ensures you won’t have to carry a messy child back home or cut your adventure short. Adventure Items – Bringing some binoculars or a magnifying glass can increase the wonder and decrease the whining. Just be sure it’s small and you don’t mind carrying it for them if they get tired. Older kiddos – Ages 4 and up Water Bottle – At this age, your kiddo is more likely to be able to carry their own water. We prefer kid-sized stainless steel bottles that fit well into smaller hands and can be clipped to a backpack. Snacks! – Again, snacks are essential for a successful family adventure. Older kiddos can generally eat whatever you eat, so throw a pack of nuts or a snack bar (these oaty bars are delicious!) in the bag, and your set! Their own Backpack – While not a necessity, my kiddos enjoy having their own backpack for even nearby adventures. We call them “adventure packs” in our house and they are always stocked with a snack, a nature journal and writing utensils, observation tools, etc. They just add their water bottle right before we leave and they’re set! A Nature Journal (with colored pencils or crayons) – While they don’t always bring their journals, if we are going to be out for more than a quick walk around the neighborhood they like the have the option to sketch their surroundings. Check out this article for more information on nature journaling with kids. Observation Tools – Along with a nature journal, consider bringing a few small tools that kids can observe nature with. This can include a small magnifier, some binoculars, or a handheld microscope. 5 Tips for Getting Out the Door Quickly Build it into your Schedule or Routine – With our busy schedules, it can be hard to fit in even nearby adventures. Consider adding it into your week as a family “appointment” for nature therapy. Make it a habit to take an after-school stroll to the playground to discuss their day, or a post-dinner walk around the neighborhood to enjoy some fresh air. Have your Bag Packed and Ready by the Door – We prefer to have a specific “adventure pack” for nearby adventures so that it’s always ready to go (we found a great second-hand hiking backpack at a consignment store). Once you have the necessities in your bag (such as extra clothes and snacks), it only takes a few minutes to add the water and any extras you may want. As soon as you get back, replenish as needed and you’re set for the next adventure! Have a Designated Spot for Outdoor Gear – You don’t want to have to go searching for sunhats, sweaters, rainboots, play clothes, etc. Having a specific spot for outdoor gear (such as a hall closet or coat rack) makes it easy to grab what you need based on the weather and head out the door. Pick Out Your Route Ahead of Time – Whether it’s a neighborhood walk or a nearby trail, pick an appropriate route ahead of time. A simple glance at your phone’s map app or a study of an easy trail on Hike it Baby's Family Trail Guide or AllTrails can take away the stress of figuring out where to go. Looking to Sneak in a Workout? Consider letting older kiddos use their scooters or bikes while younger kiddos ride in a stroller or carrier. This allows you to move faster and cover more ground. Just be sure you set some ground rules ahead of time and choose an area that is safe with low traffic. Do you have any tips for getting your family out the door to explore nearby nature? Let us know in the comments below! 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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30 Easy, Free Ways to get your Family Outside this Month
Numerous studies have shown that a little bit of what we like to call “nature therapy” can go a long way to restore our sense of balance and well-being. Whether you’re facing times of great uncertainty and stress or you’re just looking to get some fresh air, nature can help. However, it can be hard to find the motivation to step outside with the intention to enjoy nature when we have so much on our plates inside. This is especially true as we transition out of the carefree summer mindset and into the busy back to school schedule. We are here to remind you that an outdoor adventure doesn't have to include a well-planned outing far from home. It's as easy as shooing the family out the door and into nature. Not sure what to do with the kids once you get them outside? We’re here to help! We have compiled this list of 30 easy, free outdoor activities you can do with your family this month. And the best part is, you likely won’t even need to leave your neighborhood to do any of them! As an extra bonus, we have partnered with our friends at L.L. Bean to create this gorgeous Back to Nature School Workbook, which is full of fun ideas to bring the learning outside in a fun, effective way. Photo Credit Monique Vargas Easy, Free Outdoor Activities to Get you Started Take a walk around your neighborhood. You can create a fun neighborhood scavenger hunt for the kiddos to complete, or check out our Back to Nature School workbook for fun ideas on how to include outdoor learning on your walk. Go for a bike ride around your neighborhood. Practice family-friendly nature yoga in nature.  “Paint” with mud or water. See what masterpieces your kiddos can create! Identify local plants using a free app on your smart device (such as iNaturalist or PlantNet) and talk about the life cycles of plants. Ignite the senses by going on a sensory walk or backyard sensory exploration. Read a nature book outside. Build a fort. You can use anything available such as sticks, tree branches, a hammock, blankets, etc. Check out these fun printables to help your kids track the weather or the phases of the moon throughout the month. Birdwatch using binoculars. Don’t have binoculars? Here is an easy DIY craft to make your own with two supplies you are likely to have in your house right now: Duct tape and toilet paper rolls! Eat a meal outside. Check out this article for some fun bug-themed snacks to include. Ants on a log anyone? Go on a rainbow search. Search for items outside in every color of the rainbow, from a purple flower to a red tricycle. Keep track of your finds on the Rainbow Walk page of our Back to Nature School Workbook! Pitch a tent in your yard and camp or play in it. Stargaze and identify constellations. Check out this article for printable star charts showing the most prominent constellations by season. Bring crafting time outside! Whether you break out the watercolors, haul out the construction paper and glue, or just grab some paper and crayons on your way out the door, nature can be an incredible inspiration for creating art! Head out after dark and go on a glow stick or flashlight neighborhood walk. Go on a backyard scavenger hunt. You can make up a quick list of things for your kiddos to find such as a yellow flower, an ant, something rough, etc. Check out this article for more inspiration. Have an outdoor dance party. Play music on your phone or a speaker and dance away! Create an obstacle course using anything around you. Have kids balance on a log, crawl under a chair, hop over a rock, walk along a chalk path, the sky’s the limit! Play classic kid games such as freeze tag, hopscotch, Simon Says, red light, green light, or “Mother May I”. Make a nature journal and have your kids find a sit-spot outside to write or doodle whatever comes to mind. Play outdoor hide and seek with toys. You can hide dinosaurs, stuffed animals, etc. and have your kiddos find them around your yard. Pull out the sidewalk chalk to create masterpieces or write encouraging words for your family and others passing by to enjoy. Be a nature photographer. Let your kiddo point out what interests them and help take a photo with your phone. Or let older kids borrow a camera and see what they come up with. Search for images in the clouds. Want to take it a step further? Here is an article that explains the differences between the different types of clouds. Go on a backyard bug hunt. Grab a magnifying glass and search for spiderwebs, camouflaged critters, pollinators, etc. Play with sticks and see how many things that stick can turn into. Check out this adorable book for some “Not a Stick” inspiration. Bring out the water table or create your own with buckets or plastic bins. Grab some small containers such as old butter or yogurt containers and watch their imaginations go to work. Go on an alphabet, number, or shape hunt. Look for letters or shapes in the outdoors such as a rectangle brick or the letter V-shaped by tree branches. Challenge older kiddos to find the letters of their name or see if your toddler can find 3 different shapes in the backyard.  Bring along the Back to Nature School Workbook for more ideas and handy sheets to keep track of their findings. Do shadow drawings of favorite toys such as dinosaurs or animals. Check out this article for more shadow drawing inspiration. Photo Credit Ali Chandra Enjoying the outdoors is as easy as stepping out your front (or back) door! Don't forget to print out a copy of our Back to Nature School Workbook to make your outdoor adventures even more fun while sneaking in some learning along the way!   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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Family Festival at Nadaka Nature Park
Hike it Baby ran our second Bring it Outside workshop series this summer in Gresham, Oregon at Nadaka Nature Park. Thanks to the support of a generous grant from the Oregon Conservation & Recreation Fund, Hike it Baby was able to run programming on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with both English and bilingual Spanish & English workshops available.  This four week workshop series was capped off by our Bring it Outside Family Festival at Nadaka Nature Park in July. The Family Festival brought together families from our workshop series, curious families walking or driving by, plus a variety of community partners looking forward to spending an afternoon outdoors with families! Community partner attendees included the Oregon Zoo, Nurturely, and Northwest Family Services. The Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) also attended, and shared that this event was one of the first times they had seen some of these families laughing and playing together. All registered families got Merrell shoe codes for all their kids, Deuter Dirt Bags and a Rumpl Everywhere towel.  We also provided resources in Spanish, English and Arabic, plus had giveaways from HumbleBee, Onya Baby, Retrospec and Burley.  Families could take a Wander Walk together, paint, play with huge bubbles, visit a mini campsite from Teton, learn about infant carrying and try on baby carriers with our friends from Nurturely and enjoy lots of free food and drinks!  There was a Sip in the Shade area for families to eat and enjoy free beverages from Athletic Brewing Company, or just relax on this warm summer day.   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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Bring it Outside Workshop Series at Nadaka Nature Park
Hike it Baby ran our second Bring it Outside workshop series this summer in Gresham, Oregon at Nadaka Nature Park. Thanks to the support of a generous grant from the Oregon Conservation & Recreation Fund, Hike it Baby was able to run programming on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, with both English and bilingual Spanish & English workshops available.  This four week workshop series, each led by a different facilitator, covered a variety of topics to help encourage families to spend time in nature together.   The facilitator led curriculum covered the basics of getting outdoors, sensory play and how to continue the outdoor time habit in the future beyond the workshop series, plus introduced kiddos and their families to Leave No Trace principles and conservation basics. The workshop setting allowed participants to receive community and facilitator support, plus each family was provided with bilingual resources and gear to help make getting outdoors accessible to everyone.   Although the programming was geared towards young children ages 0-5, the whole family was encouraged to attend to enjoy some outdoor fun together, and Hike it Baby was able to serve 15 families through this workshop series. We provided backpacks to all participants, and a variety of supplies so all families could participate in the outdoor activities free of charge, plus snacks and water at all events.   We wrapped up the four workshop series with a Bring it Outside Family Festival in July, where all attendees received more free gear, resources, food, drinks and an afternoon of outdoor fun. We enjoyed spending time with all of these wonderful families over the course of the series and the Family Festival event, and are looking forward to our next workshop series!       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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The 10-Minute Walk Initiative
Created in partnership with  If these last few years of dealing with a global pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that time in nature is more important than ever. When my city was shut down, I took refuge in my neighborhood parks and natural spaces. Like many, I felt safer being outdoors where exposure was minimized, and I could reap the benefits of nature during an extremely stressful time. In fact, more and more doctors are recommending time in nature as part of their patient’s mental health treatment. And the benefits don’t stop at mental health. In addition to an increase in overall happiness, various scientific studies have shown evidence that making outdoor time a priority improves sleep quality, enhances the immune system, and increases heart health. For more information on the many benefits of nature, check out these articles on how nature can play a role in disease prevention  and how nature contributes to your child’s health. With so many benefits, access to greenspaces (land that is partially or completely covered with vegetation) for everyone should be a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, access to nature is not so easy for many in the U.S. For example, as my family works on finding parks for the 10 Park Challenge, I have discovered that we have no parks that are a safe walking distance from our home, forcing us to drive to every park we visit. This surprised me since we live in a fairly "green" area of our state. Read on to uncover the problems we face with greenspace availability and what you can do to help.     Greenspace Availability With so many science-backed benefits tied to getting outdoors and exploring nature, it’s disheartening that many people in our country don’t have access to safe local greenspaces. This is especially true for our under-represented and low-income communities that have historically low access to safe local greenspaces. Many in our community don’t have the option to just “jump in the car and drive to the park”. This is something that needs to change. We need to make it a priority for EVERYONE in our country to have safe, local access to natural spaces. Thankfully numerous mayors across the nation are answering the call by signing and implementing the 10-Minute Walk Initiative. What is the 10-minute walk initiative? According to their website, this movement seeks to “create a world in which 100% of people in U.S. cities have safe access to a quality park or green space within a 10-minute walk of home by 2050”. That means they are inspiring leaders across the country, from the smallest city to the largest metropolis, to ensure their citizens live within a 10-minute walk (or roughly half a mile) of a natural space they feel safe visiting. That’s no small feat with more than 100 million people across the U.S. lacking access to a park within a half-mile of their home. However, local green spaces provide some surprising benefits to both local and global communities. Local Greenspaces Can… Provide opportunities for locals to be physically active. Improve the environment as the trees and other foliage help to clean and cool the air. Provide opportunities for environmental education through programs and features within the greenspace. Build community through interaction with neighbors and provide opportunities to work together to improve the surrounding area. Improve the local economy by boosting nearby businesses.   How You Can Get Involved Here at Hike it Baby, our vision is a world where EVERYONE can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. That’s why this movement is near and dear to our hearts, and we hope you will join us in making the 10-Minute Walk Initiative a reality. Here are three ways you can help this cause and aid in the construction of natural greenspaces within all cities across the U.S. Write a Letter to Your Mayor. Click here to find out if your mayor has signed on to the 10-Minute Walk Mission. If they haven’t, write them to encourage their participation. Better yet, spread the word and encourage your friends and neighbors to flood their mailbox (or inbox) with letters asking them to join the cause. Participate in trail clean-ups, programs, or fundraisers to build new greenspaces. This helps improve current parks and programs and helps raise the funds needed to build new, quality green spaces. Need a place to start? Hike it Baby branches across the United States host trail cleanups in mid-July as part of our annual Together We Hike birthday celebration. Check out our events page to see if there is a trail clean-up near you. Support businesses that actively support local trails. There are companies out there who have taken up the call to improve local parks and build new ones. For example, the Two for the Trails program from Athletic Brewing Company aims to protect the outdoor places we love. This company donates 2% of their sales to protecting and restoring local trails. Last year alone, they donated $1 million to trail-based non-profits and IMPACT programs that work to protect outdoor spaces. Over 60 grant winners were able to earn funds to fuel their tireless efforts to improve natural spaces for us to enjoy.   How do you plan to get involved? Let us know in the comments below!     Photos by 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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Summer Adventure Basics
A Visual Guide created in partnership with our friends from  Photo by Deanna Curry Although summer weather often goes hand in hand with swimsuits and shorts as it heats up, it's time to re-think those clothing choices. Our Hike it Baby covers the basics of keeping cool all summer long by layering, planning out your adventures, plus our favorite parent tips to make getting outside this summer no sweat! So step out, embrace the season, and feel better once you do!  Download our Summer Adventure Basics here.   Descarga los conceptos básicos de la aventura de verano aquí.   For more information about summer layering and planning your outdoor adventures, check out this video!   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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I Belong Outside: Dineo’s Story
This blog is part of our Elevating Voices series in partnership with      Meet Dineo Dowd.  Dini is one of Hike it Baby’s Board of Directors members, and a former Branch Ambassador.  She’s an author of multiple children's books and has a 7-year-old daughter.  Her family lives in Madison, Wisconsin, but this wasn’t always the case! Growing Up I grew up in South Africa, but did not have a connection to hiking. Hiking was something tourists did. They carried their stuffed packs and headed out, and I always wondered what ARE they doing? What is even IN those packs? Hiking and camping just were just tourist activities, and I wasn’t involved in them at all until moving to the United States. Moving to the United States When I moved to Utah, my husband and I went hiking very frequently and became very outdoorsy. I was hiking regularly, camping all the time, and had an amazing group of friends to do all of these activities with. It was everything, and an important part of my identity.   My husband and I planned to keep up this outdoorsy lifestyle even after the birth of our daughter, Armani. However, once Armani arrived, I found that hiking with a baby was new and different. Those friends that I hiked with didn’t always want to listen to a baby cry, or wait for diaper changes and feedings. One day, my husband and I attempted a difficult hike with the baby, and I slipped and fell, breaking my camera. This left me frustrated and lacking confidence in hiking with my daughter. An important part of my life was gone and I felt defeated.              Enter Hike it Baby One day, I was chatting with a stranger who mentioned Hike it Baby. This mom mentioned a group called Hike it Baby, where moms and babies would go out for hikes as a group. This sounded amazing, and I looked them up for a hike to attend. I ended up going on my first Hike it Baby hike, which was also the first hike for the Salt Lake City branch. Hike it Baby changed my life. I began hiking five days a week with other parents, building my confidence in hiking with my daughter and spending time outside. Armani has had the opportunity to grow up outside, thanks to our adventures together and my deep desire to raise her with a connection to nature. In spending time in nature, I've learned the most important piece to getting outside with kids is just that – Get outside! Worry about the gear later. People get overwhelmed with all of the things and gear to get outside, but it usually doesn’t matter – just start going outside. Simply open the door and start exploring together. There are so many benefits to taking those steps outside and embracing nature. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I've had the opportunity to embrace nature, meet amazing new people, and travel to awesome places (next up, Mount Kilimanjaro!). Inclusivity in Nature When I first sought out diverse children’s books about hiking, I found that there simply were none on the shelves. I wanted Armani to be able to see herself in nature, and so I wrote a children’s book to make that happen. I'm now a published children’s book author with multiple titles, diverse books and is helping children everywhere see themselves in nature! I may have started with Hike it Baby Salt Lake City, but have since been involved in multiple Hike it Baby branches and my advice is that there are so many resources and ways to be inclusive, there is no excuse not to be inclusive in nature.  Just make it happen!       Watch Dineo's Story Here   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 Super Fun Ways to Keep Cool This Summer
You wake up in the morning and go through your normal routine. It’s going to be a good day- you’re ready to adventure and explore with the kids and enjoy all the beauty that the summer has to offer. Before you get dressed, you decide to check the weather: “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” “Today, there will be sunny weather with a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 72 degrees.” WHAM- suddenly all your hopes and dreams of taking your family on a fun outdoor adventure seem to come to a screeching halt. But, never fear! While hot and sticky weather can put a damper on the plans you had for outdoor exploring with the family, as long as you plan your day appropriately, it will all be ok. One key to a successful outing in the heat is to set your sights on locations where you will have lots of opportunities to cool down. Then there’s no need to shut the door on family adventuring because of the heat (unless it becomes an unsafe level of heat). Other things to consider to help you have a more enjoyable experience are to time your outing during the coolest time of the day, pack lots of water, and wear hats and light clothing. Here are some additional tips on how to keep your kiddos cool while hiking during the summer. Photo Credit: Monique Vargas Incorporating water in your outdoor summer adventures is a great way to keep cool and have fun on those really hot summer days. Here are 10 super fun ways that you and your family can incorporate water fun to help keep cool while adventuring out and about during the summer: 1. Splash and wade hike: Choose a hike or location for your family that includes a clear stream or lake where you can put your feet in a refresh yourselves in cool water along the way (clear running water is the best for wading because it is more likely to be clean and safe). Make sure you have appropriate footwear figured out before the hike to help things run a bit more smoothly once you reach the water. 2. Waterfall hikes: Find a waterfall hike in your area and enjoy the sights, sounds, and perhaps even a little mist here and there to help cool you off. Some waterfall hikes may offer opportunities for wading or swimming as well. 3. Beach exploration: Plan a trip to a local beach and explore the surrounding area on foot with your family to get a little extra exercise and adventuring in. 4. Splash pad fun: Check out your local parks and see if any of them include a splash pad during the summer season.  The kids will love running through the cool spray on a hot day and moms and dads can cool off a bit too by standing nearby and enjoying some of the accompanying mist. *Be aware of fees, as some splash pads do charge for entry. Photo Credit: Anna North 5. Backyard water adventuring: All you need is a hose and something to hold water and you are all set for a fun time in the backyard with the kiddos. If you don’t have a pool or water table, grab an empty tote or bucket. You can have the kids test different items to see if they will float or not. Maybe use some aluminum foil, or use sticks and string to build your own boats. Or, you can even give the kids some kitchen utensils to play with if you don’t have any toys specifically made for the water. Play with water balloons or grab the hose and (on a low-pressure setting) take turns spraying each other. 6. Splash pad at home: Turn on the sprinkler and just let the kids run through and around it (or splash through the puddles, as my youngest prefers to do). To add a little extra fun, you can find creative and fun places to put the hose or sprinkler to change the height of the spray (make sure it is safe and secure) or even use it to make a water slide with one of your outdoor slides (test the bottom to be sure that it doesn’t get too slippery). 7. Neighborhood sprinkler hunt: Take a walk with the family with the intention of seeking out active sprinklers in the area and, perhaps, spending a little time in the spray. This might not work out timing-wise, but if that’s the case you’ll at least have had a lovely family walk around the neighborhood together. 8. Stone skipping: Find a local pond or lake where you can skip stones together. 9. Learning with water: Fill some cups with a little bit of water and add a couple of drops of various colors of food coloring. Let your little one explore how different colors combine with other ones to make new colors. Talk about it with them. 10. Puddle jumping: Just after the rainfall, take the kids out to search for puddles in the area to jump and splash in (rain boots and rain suits are helpful to keep the kids from getting too dirty and wet). Photo Credit: Anna North Let’s all get on our swimming gear and keep to good times rolling despite the heat in order to make summer memories with our kids that will last a lifetime!  Do you have any tips for beating the heat in the final days of summer? Let us know in the comments below!   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.