With a year of Tyke Hikes under my belt, I have been able to share my love of hiking and teaching with many children. However, there are so many more out there. :)
As a member of my school's Green & Healthy Committee, an idea of organizing a school hike came into my head. Originally, the concept of a family-friendly morning hike was the goal. However, after gauging community interest, it was soon known that one hike would not do. Instead, we needed a day of hiking.
So, after sending out information sheets, save the dates, and assigning hike times based on family preferences, over 400 people had signed up for the inaugural Woodside Walk in the Woods at Lapham Peak State Park.
I scouted out hiking options, some short, some long. Some stroller-friendly, some more rugged. I bought snacks and ordered signs. I reserved a building and contacted many different people to help volunteer. Looking back, it was a great deal of work, but when it is something you love to do, it hardly feels like work at all.
The day of the hike, Mother Nature was a trickster. The threat of rain was in the forecast and the morning clouds were threatening, but nothing ever really developed. Unfortunately, her threats and the local soccer schedules impacted the turnout. When it was all said and done, nearly 250 students and family members took part in the 4 hikes scattered throughout this spectacular Saturday.
Highlights abounded throughout the day, but rather than give every one, I'd rather share a few of my favorite moments.
Though a locked door caused some initial confusion and chaos, all was well once we hit the trail. Each hike had new personalities, varying levels of interest and ranges of hiking experience. However all hikes had one important element: fun.
We saw wildlife from deer, turkeys, frogs, hawks, and butterflies.
We heard many terribly awful jokes (which I love). My favorite? Why is there a fence around the butter fly garden?
To keep the butterflies in.
We saw the newest member of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail; Alliance: Month. He is a wonderfully adorable mammoth mascot I know I will be able to experience firsthand sooner than later.
We learned many things about nature, from finding glacial features like erratics to discussing then importance of "nurse stumps" and tree graveyards.
Most importantly, we saw child after child get some exercise, experience some of the beauty of the outdoors, and leave with a smile on their face and a new adventure in their memory.
To me, any day hiking is a good day. Especially when you can share the trail with the future.