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Archive for the ‘Kid’s Activities’ Category

by Tom Rankin, Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post

You’ve probably seen TV ads aimed at getting children to exercise. This is a great idea, and what could be better than taking your children hiking? They get fresh air, interaction with nature and can start a lifelong hobby of being outdoors.

Tom Rankin hikes in the Catskills with his wife's grandchildren, Damon and Payton Pietrantoni.

Tom Rankin hikes in the Catskills with his wife’s grandchildren, Damon and Payton Pietrantoni.

I have friends who have taken their children hiking as newborns. Some mothers carry their babies in a sling, while others place them in a specially designed baby carrier, which can double as a backpack.

One important aspect to keep in mind is that children are much more focused on the journey than the destination. Be prepared to not make it all the way to the goal. Parents can tell when their children are tired, instead of just grumbling about moving up the trail, and you should never push children beyond their limits.

Frequent rest breaks and time to explore the sides of the trail will help keep them interested.

Small enticements along the way, such as “there is a special treat waiting at the summit,” might work with some kids, but let them dictate the pace and when to stop. The last thing you want is for the hike to turn into a negative experience.

You can help avoid problems by making sure your child is adequately clothed in layers appropriate to the conditions, and has sturdy, well-fitting boots. You can buy them backpacks, (or they could probably use their school packs), but don’t expect them to carry all their gear, food and water. Explain to them that as they grow older and stronger, they can carry more of their own gear. A small toy could be brought along in the pack.

My wife’s grandson, 6, is a typical, active boy, who hikes with us frequently. But he sometimes takes risks on the trail that we would rather he not do. Let children have fun — and even take a few small risks — but make sure you keep a close eye on them and do not allow them to get into dangerous situations. Explain that the outdoors can be fun, but they could get hurt, or lost. Teach your children to understand trail markers and stay on the trail. Carrying a first-aid kit is a must.

The Catskill 3500 Club leads hikes to each of the 35 peaks over 3,500 feet in the Catskills in every season. We have a requirement that you do at least four winter climbs before you join the club. Our hikes are free, but you must sign up in advance. We will make sure you are ready to go on the hike you sign up for with a few questions about what you have hiked recently and if you have the appropriate gear. This helps keep every hike a safe hike for everyone involved.

Children are welcome on our hikes, but you should discuss your child’s age and ability with the leader before the hike. A parent or guardian must accompany all minors and sign a waiver for them.

Tom Rankin is an avid hiker and vice president of the Catskill 3500 Club. He also helps keep the Balsam Lake Mountain Fire Tower open to visitors. He can be contacted through the Catskill 3500 Club Web page: www.catskill-3500-club.org/about/officers.htm. “Valley Explorer” is a regular feature in My Valley.

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Anyone who does trail maintenance should watch this video. Can you imagine being the maintainers for this BMX trail system?  Endwell Trails – Upstate New York

Here’s more info on the Endwell Trails. http://www.bmxunion.com/blog/blog/through-the-lens-spot-check-endwell-trails/

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by Sue Freeman

Ice skating was an integral part of my childhood. My street backed up to the Erie Canal, so in winter, my brothers and I toted our skates and snow shovels down the rocky embankment, into the lowered Erie Canal. We shoveled away the snow and spent many wonderful hours playing hockey and pretending to be Olympic ice skaters on the often bumpy surface. For a smoother glide, we piled into the car and went to the outdoor rink at Potter Memorial Park in Fairport.

Years later at Holiday Harbour in Canandaigua, I shoveled a large area of the boat canals and invited a gang of friends over for a rousing game of broom hockey, followed by hot chocolate in my parent’s house. These were examples of ice skating in its raw, natural form – with lots of shoveling involved, and a high tolerance for bumpy ice. A potential skating rink exists anywhere you have shallow water such as a pond or canal that freezes solidly. For instance, people like to skate on Long Pond in Greece.

If you prefer less physical prep work and smoother ice, you probably want to opt for an indoor ice rink. You’ll have to pay a fee but ice rinks often offer skate rentals and a warmer environment or a warming hut. Ice rinks in the Rochester area offer open public skating as well as hockey leagues, and skating lessons. They even provide options for birthday parties and special events. Visit the web site for specifics on each venue.
– Manhattan Square Park and Ice Rink, downtown Rochester was renovated & expanded in 2008, www.cityofrochester.gov/article.aspx?id=8589935137
-The Sports Center at MCC in Henrietta, www.tscmcc.com/page/show/223069-public-skating
-Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena at RIT in Henrietta, www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/ciar/facilities_icearena.php
-Lakeshore Hockey Arena on Ling Road in Rochester, www.lakeshorehockeyarena.com
-Scottsville Ice Arena in Scottsville, www.scottsvilleicearena.com
-Genesee Valley Sports Complex Ice Skating Rink in Rochester, www.cityofrochester.gov/GVPSC
-Village Sports Ice Skating Rink on Baird Road in Fairport, www.villagesports.net
-Webster Ice Arena in Webster, www.websterarena.org
-Thomas Creek Ice Arena on Lyndon Road in Fairport, www.tcice.com
-Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport, www.brockport.edu/recservices/ice_arena/index.html
-Greater Canandaigua Civic Center in Canandaigua, www.gccc.org

For good free fun, outdoor rinks can be found at Churchville Park, Ellison Park, Highland Park, Fairport Junction Ice Arena next to the Box Factory in Fairport, and Veteran’s Memorial Park in Henrietta. There may be others in your neighborhood. In addition to being free, these rinks come pre-shoveled and are watered regularly to provide a smooth surface. Of course, you’re unlikely to have the rink to yourself as you would on a do-it-yourself pond.

Many ice rinks rent skates but, for a pair of your own, visit the Fairport or Canandaigua locations of RVE Bike & Skate (www.rvebike.com/skates.html), Rochester’s premier ice skate retailer. They’ll help you find the perfect pair for a winter full of skating fun.

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By Dianna Morris

The Christmas season is another wonderful opportunity to go for a hike, especially for families looking for something fun to do either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or for folks looking to wear off some of those scrumptious baked goodies we all indulge in during this season!

Many years ago, I took my toddler daughter out for nighttime walks through the snowy fields where we lived. I bundled her up well and packed her, tucked in with woolen blankets, into an old carriage bed tied atop a Flexible Flyer sled and over the fields we went. The moon and starlight made all the snow glisten like myriad diamonds. The night time silence was soothing after busy holiday season activities. If you get the right night, the moon light on the snow can make it appear almost like day light outside.

As the kids grew older, night time walks became a treasured activity. Thoughts got shared that might not have been spoken in all the busyness of our days. Memories were stored up as we saw things the sleeping world was missing. A cup of hot chocolate when we arrived back home warmed us up and made a perfect ending to the evening. Bundle up well and go for a night time hike and you will find a new activity to treasure during this season.

source: UticaOD.com

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The New Year Brings Winter Events and Family-Friendly Fun in the Adirondack Region

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New Coalition Aims for a More Bike-Friendly Flatbush

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BY  DEBORAH WAY, NorthJersey.com, link to original post

Hiking is a wonderful way to reconnect with your family. Not only are you getting exercise and fresh air, you’re also getting away from the distractions of TV and computers. It’s satisfying to watch your children’s eyes refocus on the wide world around them.

But if the prospect of convincing your kids to walk anywhere, let alone in the wilderness, seems daunting, don’t worry: Our ideas will make the experience fun and stress-free. Just remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Relax and enjoy the slower pace that hiking with kids can bring.

Take A Hike – Rochester (NEW) 3rd edition

You’ll want to choose a hike that’s challenging, but not too challenging: somewhere in between a trek to Machu Picchu and a trip to the mailbox. For tips on picking the right track, we asked Helen Olsson, author of “The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping With Kids.”
* For a rough idea of how long a trail to try, figure that a child can walk about a half mile for each year of age. So a 6-year-old should be able to handle a 3-mile trek. (Of course, you should take into account your child’s disposition and energy level.)
* Loop trails are more interesting than out-and-back trips, which have you retracing your steps on the way home.
* For a group goal, set a destination to reach, such as an old cabin or a pond with a beaver lodge.
* Consider the change in elevation (meaning, how steep the trail is). Two miles on a flat trail is easier to hike than a trail with a vertical gain of 500 feet. That said, many kids find uphill routes, with their opportunities to scramble up boulders, more engaging than flat trails.

Pack it up
* Bring or wear these essentials for a safe and happy hike, says Karthika R. Gupta, owner of the family adventure travel agency Memorable Jaunts.
* Sturdy, supportive walking/hiking shoes.
* Track pants/waterproof pants or shorts. If there’s any chance of rain, skip the jeans — denim is very uncomfortable when it gets wet.
* Light, rainproof jacket. Dress in layers; weather in the mountains and in forests tends to be much cooler than at lower elevations.
* Daypack. (An everyday backpack is fine.)
* Snacks, such as trail mix, granola bars and nuts. Individual portions are easier to dole out to hungry hikers.
* Notebooks and pens so that kids can doodle what they see.
* Water. A general rule of thumb is one 8-ounce bottle per person, but more is always better.
* Small flashlight, especially if you’re hiking near dusk.
* Compass. It’s a great educational tool and a good backup to cellphones and a GPS device.
* Small first-aid kit containing bandages and antibiotic ointment (such as bacitracin) for any cuts or scrapes along the way.
* Bug spray and sunblock.

Take A Hike – Finger Lakes

Prepare for fun
If you have the space, add these unessential items to your pack for on-the-trail activities.

* Magnifying glass for getting a closer look at interesting bugs, mosses and rocks.
* Spray bottle. Fill it with water and use it to mist spider webs, making them easier to examine. Spray rocks to see if they become more colorful. Turn the sprayer on yourselves if you’re in need of cooling off.

Play as you go
A simple game can rejuvenate hikers and head off boredom at the pass.
* Hold a sensory scavenger hunt that’ll encourage your kids to focus on their surroundings. Instead of giving them a list of items, ask them to find something that’s lumpy, orange, smooth, rough, sticky, cold and so on.
* Play classic car games as you walk, such as 20 questions or “I’m going on a hike.” For the latter, one person says, “I’m going on a hike, and I’m bringing ———————” (filling in the blank with something that begins with the letter A. The next person repeats what the first person said but adds an item that begins with B. The next person adds something that begins with C, and so on.
* Remind kids to stay on marked trails by making it a game. Who can spot the trail blazes — those dots of paint or plastic markers affixed to tree trunks — first?
* Take turns being the leader. The rest of the family has to follow the leader’s movements as closely as possible. If he skips while flapping his arms, you do the same.
* Use clear packing tape to loop a tape “bracelet” around your child’s wrist, sticky side out. She can adhere leaves and other lightweight nature finds to it as she walks. (Note: Some parks have a strict “leave what you find” policy.)
* Bring crayons and paper for making rubbings of tree bark and rocks.

Thousand Islands NY Area Hikes

Explore further
Like us, trail master John McKinney (author of “Hiking With Kids”) hopes you’ll be “unplugged” during your hike. That said, he recommends a few smartphone apps to enhance the experience.

The websites trails.com (and free iOS app) and alltrails.com (free iOS and Android apps) offer the two most comprehensive collections of trail descriptions and maps. Their latest apps offer hiking distance, elevation gain, GPS locations and weather conditions.

Maplets (iOS, $3) allows you to download thousands of maps — not just of parks but also of cities, theme parks, subways and more. Some maps are GPS-tagged so that you can see your current location.

These five apps will help you learn as you explore.
* Find out who shared your trail with MyNature Animal Tracks (iOS and Android, $7).
* Name that blossom with Audubon Wildflowers (iOS and Android, $5).
* Meet the flockers (or at least identify them) with WildLab Bird (iOS, free).
* For hikes on clear nights, find stars and planets with Sky Map (Android, free) or Star Walk (iOS, $3).

Hike Saratoga Springs NY

Keep a log
Back at home, write down the name, date and location of your hike in a special notebook. Ask everyone to add what they liked and didn’t like about the trail. Invite them to include drawings or any other observations. Your Explorer’s Log will serve as both a journal and a handy reference for future adventures.

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Ahh, the joy of accomplishment – you can hear it in his voice as this 5-year-old experiences his first mountain biking trip. It reminds me of watching Rick French (the owner of Pack, Paddle, Ski) and his son Keegan as they experienced the outdoors together – priceless!  Click here to watch the short video.

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Go MOMS! Click here for a wonderful blog about 2 moms, 4 kids and 1 mini-dachshund hiking across the Finger Lakes Trail.

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By: Margaret Ontl, Hudson Star-Observer, link to original post

A Hudson resident has released his latest volume in the popular and highly acclaimed “Hikes with Tykes” book series: “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.”

Culled from the experiences of “Hikes with Tykes” author Rob Bignell and fellow outdoor-minded parents, “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” is the most comprehensive collection of diversions available, with something for every age group and childhood interest.

The new guidebook provides comprehensive descriptions of more than 100 games and activities parents, grandparents, teachers and youth club leaders can engage kids in before, during and after day hikes.

The book is the follow-up to Bignell’s highly successful “Hikes with Tykes: A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids,” which was released last year.

“As soon as that book came out, parents began emailing me tips and suggestions they had about hiking with kids,” Bignell said. “I noticed a lot of those suggestions were for great games and activities. I found a number of those ideas really useful, for as my son grew older I had to come up with new ones for the trail and for the drive over to the trailhead!

“Collecting all of those suggestions and my trials and tribulations with my son’s interest in the trail led to the series’ second book, ‘Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities.’”

That so many parents shared games and activities shouldn’t be surprising, Bignell said. During these difficult economic times, a number of families have turned back to the low-cost, fun activity of hiking. An Outdoor Industry Association report from 2010 says that 40 million Americans hike and a number of them take along their children.

Among the many topics in “Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities” are:
–Activities to get kids excited about a day hike.
–Crafts in which kids make their own hiking gear.
–Recipes for healthy snacks on the trail.
–Games that will help kids better understand and appreciate nature.
–Post-hike activities to keep kids excited about the sport.

A long-time hiker, editor and journalist, Bignell is uniquely qualified to discuss hiking with children. He and his son Kieran have been going on day hikes together for more than five years. Bignell took Kieran on his first hike when he was but four months old, through an old grove of redwood trees that soared 150 feet over their heads. Since then, they’ve peakbagged mountains, rambled along ocean coastlines, searched fossil and gem trails, and explored desert canyons, often all in the same month.

Bignell lives in Hudson, having recently moved there from Southern California.
Both volumes in the “Hikes with Tykes” series are available for purchase online at http://hikeswithtykes.com/home.html.

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