Parks around the country are developing programs for families who want to enjoy the outdoors with young children.
“The message is, bring the right equipment and we’ll do the rest,” said Meri-Margaret Deoudes, vice president for the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There campaign, which is designed to promote outdoor play.
Many parks offer events as a “gateway” for parents to see how easily they can enjoy the outdoors with children, she said from her office in Merrifield, Va.
For instance, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Metroparks park district offers a “Stroller Science” series that often combines a stroll and a kid-friendly nature lesson.
At the Hudson Highlands Land Trust in Garrison, N.Y., event organizers began offering hikes geared to families with strollers or backpack carriers about six years ago, said MJ Martin, director of outreach development. More and more “intrepid families” are taking advantage of it, she said.
“It’s a great movement that we’ve seen grow over the last couple of years,” she said. “Families are not letting the age of their children hold them back. We added family-friendly hikes that include parents and caregivers with toddlers and babies.”
Karen Kapoor of Cold Springs, N.Y., and her husband, Dinesh, routinely take their 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter out into the woods. “We’ve been hiking since my daughter was a teeny-tiny baby,” she said.
“I like to get out for myself. It’s easier to take them along than find a babysitter.”
The kids have developed an interest in hiking. Seven-year-old Raunag dislikes it when his mom hikes without him.
“I like watching the animals,” he said. “We see birds and bugs and caterpillars on leaves.”
By: Melissa Kossler Dutton
A good stroller to take off the pavement needs heavy-duty tires and cushioning from the bumps. Here are two of the best, according to Consumer Search
BOB Revolution SE (single of double)
Owners love the BOB Revolution SE’s huge canopy, which has a peek-a-boo window. Most find the storage basket roomy and easily accessible, and they also like the pockets inside the seat and on the seat back. One common complaint is the lack of a parent tray or cupholder, which is sold separately.
Jeep Liberty Limited
While the quality isn’t on par with pricier competitors, the stroller’s versatility and included accessories make it a good value. But note: Reviewers are vocal about the stroller’s weight and fold — they hate both. The Liberty Limited tips the scales at 30 pounds, and some parents say the stroller doesn’t fit in their trunks.