1, 2, 3: Ready or not, here I hike!
Seattle families and children take to Seward Park in NWF's first Hike & Seek.
Monday, October 18, 2010 - 16:33
AWESOME AVES: Children learning about birds of prey at the Seattle Hike & Seek. (Photo: Calvin Allan)
It was a crisp October day and Seward Park was swarming with Seattle families taking part in the National Wildlife Federation's (NWF) first Hike & Seek.
Hike & Seek is a NWF fundraiser event and a way to promote the outdoors and children being active at an early age. Seattle was one of three locations picked for the first Hike & Seek, the others being Chicago and Washington, D.C., who held their events Oct. 2.
The event was geared toward young children and was a combination of a hike and scavenger hunt. The children, along with their families, walked around the perimeter of Seward Park, a total of 2.4 miles — far longer than Chicago's or Washington, D.C.'s. They stopped at five Stop & Study stations along the way, with each station having a different theme for children to learn about: guess the bird call, identify wildlife tracks, leaf rubbings, water exploration and seed identification. Each station intended for Hike & Seek to stimulate all five senses and get children exploring nature around them.
Children and their families were arranged into small groups that were sent off one-by-one in 15-minute intervals. This was done not only to accommodate everyone on the trails comfortably, but also to give families time to enjoy the hike and make impromptu stops to just enjoy the natural sceneries of the park.
Afterward, each child received a "Junior Naturalist" badge to celebrate his or her accomplishment along with many goodies from the many sponsors of the event. Sponsors included: REI, Aveda, Kolcraft and Jeep.
Volunteering at the event was not only fun, but educational, as well. I got to help out with the birds of prey exhibit which included a Harris hawk named Sweetie, a European eagle owl named Hedwig and a Gyrfalcon named Slam. Later a pair of red-tailed hawks joined them in the camaraderie.
I may be a recent college graduate, but the Hike & Seek event recalled memories in my youth when I got excited to go into the outdoors. Watching the leaves changing colors in the Columbia Gorge is one of the best memories a child could have. Remember: the outdoors aren't just for the kids, but for the kids at heart, as well!
Officials said that those who had registered and showed up for the Seattle event far outdid the numbers at Chicago and Washington, D.C. Though this was unofficial and official numbers probably won't be out until later ... either way, be proud, Seattle!
Want to get the kids out for a hike? Want to go on a hike yourself? Want to learn more about the outdoors in general? Check out these great resources: