A Year With Hike it Baby (Kingston, ON)

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A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Back in February of 2016, Hike it Baby Kingston, ON was born. Since then, a community has grown, a community of families working together to raise a generation to love the outdoors. I am so proud to say that I was the driving force behind the birth of this community, but we would not be 1000 strong on Facebook without each and every engaged member along the way. A community is defined as a group of people, not just one person. I could not have done this alone and to everyone who has had a hand in it along the way, I say thank you!

On February 26th of this year, we celebrated our first birthday as a community and what a heartwarming and truly rewarding experience that was. We gathered together at our local conservation area’s outdoor centre for cake, warm drinks, crafts and of course, a bird feeding hike. It had been about two weeks since I had walked the trails at the conservation area and there had been a melt and refreeze. We were not prepared for the amount of ice, but in true community spirit, there was a lot of handholding, guiding, lifting of small children, support of every kind along the trail. I really and truly enjoyed taking a day to reflect on and celebrate all that Hike it Baby Kingston is and can be.

A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Every day my heart is filled by the supportive conversations that happen both on the trail and on Facebook. Every day I am inspired by how each Hike it Baby family finds their own way to get outside and enjoy each other’s company and nature’s bounty. Every day I am so grateful because I finally feel like I belong here, like this is my home, and I have found my tribe.

What is Hike it Baby?

In short, Hike it Baby is life-changing. As for the long version, Hike it Baby is a community-driven online platform and a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting families to one another and getting them outside with a focus on children from birth to school age. The purpose of Hike it Baby is to provide support to get families in nature as soon as they feel ready and to raise a generation to love the outdoors. This community is housed online but the magic happens on trails, at parks, on beaches, in the woods, always surrounded by fresh air and good company.

Hike it Baby is unlike other parenting groups and unlike other hiking groups. It combines everything there is to love about both, and stands by some very important values:

  • Leave No Hiker Behind
  • Develop Community
  • No Judgement
  • Respect Nature
  • Inspiring Self-care

And now for a little history… Hike it Baby started in July of 2013, when Founder Shanti Hodges invited a few other new families to join her for a hike. In the first few months these were casual hikes among friends. As the number of families participating grew, it became apparent that the desire to get outside was much more than Shanti expected. Through the help of an ever-increasing group of hosts and volunteers, Hike it Baby grew from a small group of parents to a large community of families.*

*This information and more is available about the “About Us” page of the Hike it Baby website.

What I owe to Hike it Baby

Anyone who knows me well knows that Hike it Baby has quickly become a huge part of my life. Hike it Baby is more than just a community that I am part of, it is part of who I am, it has become a way that I identify myself. I am Hike it Baby. And I owe so much to this community, both locally and internationally. For the first time in the 4 years that I have lived here, I finally feel like Kingston is my home. I feel this wicked sense of community that I haven’t felt since I left my parents’ house and my hometown. I absolutely love being out and about and bumping into families that I know. Maybe this is something that you take for granted, living in the same place you’ve always lived, but it is such an incredible feeling when you haven’t felt it before. I also have friends outside of work now. As an adult, it can be challenging to make friends, especially in a new city. I have some great friends that I’ve met through work, but we don’t have nearly as much in common as the new friends I’ve made through Hike it Baby. The welcome circle that takes place at the beginning of every single Hike it Baby event breaks the ice quickly and everyone learns the names, ages and neighbourhoods of those joining in on the fun.

Beyond the sense of community and companionship that Hike it Baby has offered me, I also owe the amount of time I spend outside and the adventures I’ve taken my son on to this motivating and inspiring group of families. I used to avoid hiking in the rain and now it excites me! I didn’t always prioritize time outside but we seem to lift each other up and push each other out the door. There’s a small part of me that is just a little bit competitive too, so if someone else has done it, I have to do it too – hike a more challenging trail, camp a little further from home, spend more time outside in a week. I have a small army of parents constantly reminding me that we are all happier outside, constantly reminding me that we’re in this together. And last but not least, I now have an enormous network of like-minded parents at my fingertips, ready to share advice, resources, gear and location recommendations, and more. I live and breathe Hike it Baby on the daily, even when I’m not hosting or attending an event. And I love it!

What others have to say about Hike it Baby Kingston, ON…

In case you don’t believe me when I say that Hike it Baby is an incredible community, here’s what a few other parents from my local branch have to say.

A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Rebecca and G (10 months)

Q: How has your time outdoors changed since joining Hike it Baby?

A: My time outdoors has most definitely increased since joining Hike it Baby. It has been my encouragement and my reason to get myself and my child outside more.

Q: How else has Hike it Baby impacted your life?

A: Hike it Baby has been my “thing” while on maternity leave. Sure, I go to the library and other local programs from time to time and I take my baby swimming at the local public pool, but HiB has been my main reason to get out of my pajamas and out of the house. In the last six months, Hike it Baby has impacted my life on so many levels – and I know it will continue to do so for many years to come. It has made me feel more connected to my community. I have met so many amazing parents and lifelong friends; people that I feel supported by and comfortable enough around to ramble or vent to about whatever curveballs parenthood is throwing at me. I also feel so much more connected to nature. I grew up in the country, but my connection with nature had decreased over the years. I am so grateful that HiB has rekindled my love for the outdoors and I will be sure to pass that love down to my children. I know that HiB has benefited my mental and emotional health, not only by encouraging me to reap the benefits of getting outside often, but also by giving me the opportunity to connect with other like-minded parents. I am so very grateful that I saw that poster at Go Green Baby. I have no idea what my maternity leave would have been like without Hike it Baby – but I know that it would have definitely felt like something was missing. That is why Hike it Baby has been my “thing”.

Q: When recommending Hike it Baby to other parents, what do you tell them?

A: I tell parents that the people are lovely, the hikes are beautiful, and that it’s super easy to just join in. I think sometimes people feel nervous about joining an established group that they have no experience with, so I try to be as welcoming as possible to encourage them to join us.


A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Katie and M (12 months)

Q: How has your time outdoors changed since joining Hike it Baby?

A: Since joining HiB, I feel more confident hiking in less than favourable weather. I have noticed that I always feel better after going on a hike, so I force myself to bundle up and get outside. I never regret it. Before HiB, I would find more excuses not go out due to poor weather. But now I actually enjoy hiking in all seasons!

Q: How else has Hike it Baby impacted your life?

A: I moved here four years ago and have made more friends this year with Hike it Baby than in the last four years combined. I enjoy meeting other parents in this environment as it’s not stressful, and we are doing an activity (adventuring outdoors!). Hike it Baby has given me some structure and purpose to my days on maternity leave, which I really craved. Hike it baby has opened up a whole new community of parents from all walks of life who enjoy hiking and exploring the outdoors. It’s a free*, low-stress environment where I can chat with other parents and get some fresh air.

Q: When recommending Hike it Baby to other parents, what do you tell them?

A: Hike it Baby is how I’ve made friends in a new city, discovered and explored new trails, and become more confident in my abilities as a new mom. I have learned so much about babies and parenting from the people I’ve met through Hike it Baby, and I’ve learned a lot about myself as well.

*Hike it Baby is currently free to international members, however there is a $10/year membership for those residing in the USA.


A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Karlee and C (15 months)

Q: How has your time outdoors changed since joining Hike it Baby?

A: I try and get out as much as I can, meeting other moms makes it much more enjoyable 🙂

Q: How else has Hike it Baby impacted your life?

A: Hike it Baby has impacted my life socially, physically and emotionally. Socially: meeting other parents and getting any advice if needed. Physically: I had weight to come off and hips that were in pain and it was nice to have relaxing exercise to help. Mentally: fresh air is good for the soul!

Q: When recommending Hike it Baby to other parents, what do you tell them?

A: It’s a great group. Fun to go out and have a walk with other parents, I really recommend it 🙂


A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Alison and E (16 months)

Q: How has your time outdoors changed since joining Hike it Baby?

A: Hiking with new friends and members is great.

Q: How else has Hike it Baby impacted your life?

A: Hike it baby is a great way to meet new people and introduce your child to nature and fresh air. Socially, it is a great network for new parents.

Q: When recommending Hike it Baby to other parents, what do you tell them?

A: It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s simple


A Year With Hike it Baby - mamanonthetrail.com

Laurel and A (10 months)

Q: How has your time outdoors changed since joining Hike it Baby?

A: It’s much more social! I’m used to doing things on my own, and being new to motherhood, new to the city, and naturally more introverted made it hard for me to connect with people. Hike it Baby gave me the opportunity to meet other parents in a setting I’m really comfortable in, doing an activity I enjoy.

Q: How else has Hike it Baby impacted your life?

A: It has helped me to get outside and be active, even when I didn’t really feel like it; I feel so much better physically and emotionally afterwards. Socially, a game-changer for me as a new parent. I’m so thrilled to meet other parents who value time outside as much as I do.

Q: When recommending Hike it Baby to other parents, what do you tell them?

A: It’s awesome. It might seem daunting to get outside with a baby or kid, but you’ve got a friendly group of understanding parents who are happy to adjust your kid’s toque when you back-carry, distract your crying baby, stop for a feeding, lift the front of your stroller over a high curb, and share their experience with you. Anyone can host so you can find a time that works for you (and hosting is easy). And there are so many trails and paths in our area to explore, you’ll definitely be able to find a hike or walk that suits you.


A dedicated member, who also happens to blog, wrote a great article about her experience with Hike it Baby and how it was a real mat leave game-changer for her. Check out lNatasha’s story!

 

Over the past year I have built a community and I have found my tribe. You can live this experience too.

Find your tribe today!

2 thoughts on “A Year With Hike it Baby (Kingston, ON)

  1. Amber Ludwig

    Aw, this sounds so great!! Sometimes I wish I didn’t hate people so much so I could join our local one lol!! I have such bad social anxiety though it’s tough for me!

    Reply
    1. Monica Post author

      I’m sorry to hear that anxiety is something that you endure. The outdoors does work wonders on most mental health issues. I wonder if you couldn’t message the Branch Ambassador of your local branch and join up with a small group that way. There are several hikes in our area that are not well attended, sometimes it’s just me and one other parent, and that might be a place to start. Just a thought!

      Reply

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