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Growing Up Outdoors: How the ‘Hike it Baby’ movement built the ‘OutGrown’ community

Raising children to love the outdoors shouldn’t require a movement, but for many families, spending time outside is not easy or accessible—leaving generations lacking the skills, familiarity and knowledge needed to respect nature and its impact on everyone.

There are new moms with infants who aren’t sure how to keep their little ones warm when the temperatures begin to dip. Or parents of toddlers who don’t have the resources to travel to green spaces or parks. Many families simply don’t have another minute to squeeze into their days for playing outside after school, work, extracurriculars and household routines are finished.

Community can make all the difference in overcoming these relatable challenges–and that’s how “Hike it Baby” was born and eventually grew into “OutGrown(Opens in a new window)"

Raising a generation to love the outdoors

It all started with a group of moms, led by Shanti Hodges, who wanted to meet up with others outside of the traditional “mommy and me” groups. One hike in Portland, Oregon led to more—and then the idea spread with the help of an online calendar and social media.

Hike it Baby grew quickly and was soon hosting free, inclusive, family-friendly hiking events around the world. The community offered opportunities for anyone with young children to make connections and contribute their time, skills and energy as volunteer ambassadors, hosts and behind-the-scenes staff.

Parents found purpose outside of their day-to-day lives; toddlers gained confidence as they found their footing on new terrain; life-long friendships were made and important connections formed–all through the community of caregivers committed to raising a generation to love the outdoors.

"We found a place we belonged and realized how much we all thrived outside,” says one Hike it Baby parent. “It was the village every parent needs in their life and everyone was invited, even the kids that couldn't sit still or acted a little different."

Image via Michelle Craig

Growing pains

With such a large community of support, Hike it Baby became a nonprofit organization and continued to focus on creating an impact for families everywhere. However, the name could be confusing, as it conveyed the image of a hiking group for those with babies.

But it was so much more than a hiking group—and we realized Hike it Baby had outgrown its name.

We wanted to connect families with children from infant to school-aged to resources and opportunities aimed at overcoming the barriers to spending quality time outdoors. We strived to engage with local partners, sponsors and volunteers in an effort to provide gear and education in underserved areas. We aimed to inspire others to find the motivation and confidence to get outside as a family.

Programs were developed to reach these goals and we became “OutGrown.” Currently, three programs are managed under the OutGrown umbrella: Hike it Baby, Turn the Blues Green, and Bring it Outside.

Image via Michelle Craig

OutGrown Program Spotlight: Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby(Opens in a new window) offers community-led events with a very flexible format for getting outside, lowering several key barriers that allow new parents to build confidence in getting their babies and young children outside. Families find community and support to help them continue to build a habit that improves their wellness, deepens their connection to the care of our planet, and raises a new generation to love the outdoors.

OutGrown Program Spotlight: Bring it Outside

Bring it Outside(Opens in a new window) addresses key challenges for families in getting outdoors together, such as:

● language barriers

● transportation issues

● limited family time

● inexperience

● safety

● historical exclusion

● social insecurity

● past negative experiences

OutGrown Program Spotlight: Turn the Blues Green

Turn the Blues Green(Opens in a new window) focuses on maternal wellbeing and post-natal mental health, supporting new mamas to experience the benefits of time spent in nature for both them and their babies.

Inspire | Engage | Connect

OutGrown volunteers are key when it comes to inspiring, engaging and connecting with families near and far. They host events such as hikes, park-and-plays, urban strolls and nature crafts. Many post their adventures online and on social media and offer tips and tricks they’ve learned to make getting out the door with little ones a bit easier. Others help behind the scenes with administrative and promotional work.

Our website was recently redesigned to offer more virtual options for connection through regional groups and online resources all in one place. Facebook(Opens in a new window) and Instagram(Opens in a new window) allow us to showcase resources and virtual events to help keep everyone motivated to get outside all year long. Locally, you can find a neighborhood group on Facebook and through our website’s member portal.

I was a Hike it Baby; Now I’m an OutGrown Kid!

Long-term members have watched children who were once “Hike it Babies” grow into school-aged, “OutGrown” kids.

"Hike it Baby gave both my son Mason and me the roots to become a strong hiking family. Hiking is now one of the most central parts of our day-to-day life and a way for us to connect and get grounded after a long week." - Shanti, Founder of Hike it Baby

Now, our OutGrown Kids go outside in different ways, for different reasons and for different amounts of time—but the prevailing theme from caregivers who share their stories is that this is a generation who was raised to love the outdoors.

Interested in helping raise future generations to love the outdoors with us at OutGrown? We love to hear from potential sponsors, partners and anyone looking to volunteer time on our board, behind the scenes or on the trails!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest happenings and fun resources we offer all year.

Get In Touch

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