Bones and Birth Control

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Yet another benefit of hiking: observing cool nature stuff and relating it to important life stuff. My kids and I recently encountered a bunch of bones in the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Suisun City, which led to interesting discussion threads about how the bones got there, the food chain, the circle of life, birth control methods (my kids ask such probing questions!), and death. Instead of having to figure out how to have those difficult but crucial parent-child conversations, nature did the work for me, bringing up important topics organically. And because we talked as we hiked, there were no awkward moments of insecure eye contact, and the periods of silence just melted into the activity. High five for hiking as a parenting tool!

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Stroller Hikes Grove

We had a wonderful Annual Family Camping Trip during the first week of August at the Bravo Ranch in Soquel. 29 families came out for camping in the meadow or woods, creek play, visiting the chickens, catching lizards, crawdads, and lamprey, a little farm labor, and play, play, play! My son, 9, did his first camping in a kids-only tent, my daughter, 5, made a lot of new friends, and I got a nice pre-school year teaching fix, showing kids and parents alike how to weave Scandanavian Heart Baskets, make pinhole lanterns, and create little LED-conductive tape cards (Thanks for the supplies, Elise!). Rebecca had kids making very tasty edible crafts – tents and campfires, and Max J. recruited plenty of eaters of the crayfish being caught in Soquel Creek. My son delighted in helping Farmer Fred with ranch maintenance before the masses arrived, then everything went without a hitch, except the tractor, which used its hitch to hold the hay wagon when Augusto took kids out on hay rides (pun intended!).

SceloporusEvery year, there are improvements to the ranch, thanks to the loving Bravos who work hard to make it a fun, comfortable place for families to visit. This year, there was a person gate next to the automobile gate, aptly called Liza’s Gate to recognize where the great idea originated. The tree house ladder was improved, and a sandbox boat kept kids occupied for hours at the base of the tree house. Brush had been cleared near the camp kitchen so the craft area now fit beneath a grove of Redwoods. And campers could utilize the new pool house’s bathroom for showers and restroom breaks. If this isn’t glamping, I don’t know what is!

On Saturday, Farmer Fred invited all of the kids to plant a grove of trees. He had olive trees and redwoods. Kids helped dig holes, fill them partially with compost, plant, and water. On Sunday, the kids piled into the pickup truck for the short, bumpy, and delightful ride to the new grove, helping to “plant” a sign to commemorate the occasion. It is named “Stroller Hikes Grove.”

MaxNMaxI look forward to seeing it grow. I have become one of those adults who now seems blindsided by how quickly time passes; no longer do the days drag on and on amidst the stresses of early parenthood. Stroller Hikes Secretary Melissa and I had a good chuckle during the camping trip, about how we’ve left behind those frequent stresses of how our kids sleep, eat, or poop. Our children are much older now, all attending public school and making piles of decisions for themselves. We can now turn our attention to fostering other life – be it students in my classroom, abundant plants in Melissa’s garden, or a grove of trees at Bravo Ranch for Fred.

Be sure to join our mailing list to get reminders about our events, including the annual camping trip. We will announce that and accept reservations for it during Winter of 2016. This year we filled up within four days! Also, if you are interesting in volunteering for Stroller Hikes, hike leaders are appreciated, and we have a Board Member position available. Contact for more information.

– Debbie Frazier (former President and current Board Member, Stroller Hikes)
Thanks to Melanie for the photo of the grove and Melissa for the photo of the Sceloporus lizard and the boys at the creek.

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Strength in Numbers

August Big Group

Summertime has inspired many people to join our Monday morning hikes. We’ve had some big groups lately. More lively conversations, more imaginative play as we hike, more fun for everyone. Great to see you all outside!

July Big Group

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Hiking without Kids

IMG_1378IMG_2195 Obviously, as a long-time Stroller Hikes leader, I do a lot of hiking with children. I believe there are myriad important benefits to moving around outside with my kids. But I also embrace hiking without children. Last month my husband and I left our children with family members and went backpacking for four days in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We covered 50 miles, ascending and descending thousands of feet in elevation every day. As we hiked, we analyzed song lyrics, reminisced about before we were married, discussed our parenting strategies, practiced our orienteering with a compass and map, exclaimed over the majestic views, but mostly moved through nature in silence. Stepping away from electronics and social calendars and work responsibilities and modern conveniences and into some of the most glorious landscapes on earth is renewing, enriching, sobering, and fun. So while I heartily endorse the message of Stroller Hikes’ logo to “get outside with baby” I also encourage parents to occasionally get outside without baby, too.

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Tech Detox

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My kids, like so many these days, are technology addicts. I have woken late on a weekend, thinking my kids are sleeping in as well, when in fact they are engrossed in watching videos or playing video games. Granted, when I was their age, I too relished time in front of a screen, soaking up Saturday morning cartoons and neon plastic materialism.

Mobile technology is wonderful – we regularly query our favorite search engines to find trivia amidst conversations, find suggestions for that next family movie, or seek advice from strangers that can walk you through everything from making earrings, to constructing Lego wonders, to changing the exhaust on your race car. Going on a long trip? Never fear – with mobile, you can take your work with you or occupy your time with a movie or a game. Planning rendezvous are simpler too – with the ease of a text, you can coordinate whom, what, where, and when, whereas in my generation, much of that had to be decided before leaving home and a landline phone.

Driving to our four-day camping trip this weekend, my son yelled at my daughter for letting the iPad’s charge reduce to 2%, then not charging it. Even after being plugged in for 20 minutes while in traffic, the charge was still under 10%. He was distraught. I asked him why. Pondering this, he agreed that his complaint was wasted, and we slid the iPad away. He didn’t need it where we were going. He didn’t even want it, where we were going.

Being outdoors is magical. As with mobile, there is little need to plan whom, what, where, and when. The outdoors is so rich and diverse, my kids rarely lack input and insight, to be at a loss for something to do. Within a minute of arriving at camp, they were distracted by the sights, smells, sounds, and other people there. We filled four days and three nights with creek play, digging in the dirt, studying bugs, lizards, crayfish, slugs, and birds, playing classic games such as horseshoes, catch, and tag, hanging out around the campfire, and sharing time with friends.

When I got home, I wondered how long it would be before my kids would ask where the iPad was. It took 3 hours. And it’s still in the car, battery still low. Once an addict, still an addict… but I was pleased to see that some things – beautiful, natural, precious things – can still trump all the technical wonders of Silicon Valley, for days on end.

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– Debbie (founder of StrollerHikes), Max (8), and Holly (4)

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