Wednesday, October 2, 2013

National Wildlife Federation's "Hike & Seek"

Andrew had his first of three MCSA certification tests on Saturday (he passed!). I told him that the kids and I would keep busy so he could spend the morning studying without interruption. I stumbled across an advertisement for a kids' event called "Hike & Seek." It's an event hosted by the National Wildlife Federation in a number of different cities around the country. While ours in Denver was last weekend, there are others in October and November in different parts of the country. The website said it's an event designed for kids ages 3-10. Each city has a hike that's between 1 and 2 miles long (ours was 2 miles). There are stations set up along the hiking path for kids to learn about trees and various animals. It sounded fun! I wasn't sure if I could do the hike by myself, so I asked my parents if I could sign them up, too. I'm so glad I did because it took all three of us to juggle the two kids!

On Saturday morning, we set out for Carson Nature Center in Littleton, near the Mineral lightrail station off of Santa Fe. I'd never been to this nature center before. It's really stunning, although it is very close to the highway. The event wasn't too busy when we arrived. We quickly found a parking spot, helped ourselves to some coffee Starbucks had donated, and spoke with a man who got Oliver set up with a notebook and backpack. There was someone dressed as a raccoon for the event, and Oliver was not happy about that. 

Oliver had been looking forward to the hike, but, once we started out, he just had meltdown after meltdown. We ended up putting him in the stroller for the hike and carrying Jo.

At the first station, we learned about trees. Oliver was grumpy at first but then enjoyed picking a leaf for Jo and one for himself. They made leaf imprints, and he got a sticker for his notebook. He was still too grumpy to walk, but things were improving!

At the second station, Oliver learned about amphibians. He told my mom he got to color a picture of a frog because he couldn't say, "salamander." He did get a frog sticker, though.

The third station was about birds, and Oliver started to get really into the stations. He wanted to go to each one to get a sticker. Once he was interested, his mood drastically improved. He agreed to walk so Jo could ride in the stroller. That made it a lot easier!

Joanna was very easy-going throughout the event. She loved looking at all the trees and playing with the rocks and dirt. At one point, a woman from the National Wildlife Federation came up with a camera and asked to take Jo's picture as she played in the rocks. I wonder if we'll see her on their website or on their Facebook page!

Here's my dad by the Platte River, wearing Oliver's Ranger Rick backpack.

Oliver walked almost all the way from station 3 to station 4, which was probably about a third of a mile. Then, he needed a break, and Jo got to hike with Grandma Judy.

When we got close to the next station, Oliver wanted to hike again. I was so happy that he started to get into it!

At the mammal station, Oliver learned about smell. He was a little mad that the person running the station wouldn't let him have the mammal sticker for his notebook until he smelled all four of the scented boxes they had set out around the immediate area, but then he got really into it! He ran around with grandma and smelled them all.

Here's Jo running up a hill on the way to the last station!

When we finished, Oliver was getting cranky again. He didn't want to see the animals on display, but Jo was eager to look at the bald eagle and owl with me.

The Hike & Seek event was a lot of fun for us, but I thought the hike was a little too long for little ones. Almost all of the other kids we saw at the event were a little older--school aged. I think those kids got more out of the stations, too, but Oliver still enjoyed going and getting his stickers. It was really nice to get Oliver outside and exploring, so it was a definite win. I would do this again as long as I had help juggling the kiddos like I did this time! It was perfect for family groups.

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