There’s nothing like sleeping with your kids in a tent under the stars. Everyone smells like a mix of campfire, marshmallows and dirt and it’s where a kid can just be a kid. Today I’m honored to welcome Shanti Hodges to NW Healthy Mama, in a sponsored post talking about an AWESOME event happening on Whidbey Island in August. Sit down for a moment and enjoy! What she’s planning is something no one should miss! -Angela
Remember those days when you used to go camping or to a music festival before kids? Or maybe you’ve tried to brave it since and not had such a great experience? Camping itself can be an adventure with a toddler or preschooler, fun, but maybe not as relaxing as it used to be. Sure it’s great to get out into nature and feel all that fresh air, but admit it, you always wish you had 6 extra sets of hands to help entertain the kids? Or that your festival friends understood the plight of having to abide by naptimes and that you’d hope to return by the next band. This was my challenge too. I think my little guy even felt the same way. There have been many times he wants more than just spending time with his parents and tried to wander off looking for adventure.
One thing I learned when I started Hike it Baby in 2013, was that there are probably other people feeling the same way. Those that wanted to walk or hike or camp, but they just needed that extra boost of having someone to go with, someone with kids who understood where they were in their lives right now. So, in summer of 2016 I put the word out to the Portland-area Hike it Baby branches and said who wants to go camping with me this summer? We’ll get a band to come and play, plan some hikes, maybe some yoga. And you know what? It exploded! So many people wanted to join in that we actually had to get organized about it. We even called some family-focused sponsors to help foot some of the bill of the planned activities. Thus, Family Forest Fest was born.Family Forest Fest has been so much more than I ever imagined, and I wanted to share the love to more communities. I wanted to take it nationwide this year, but I got a little more realistic and we’re just doing three locations this year and hope to expand to so much more in 2018.
The number one goal of the Family Forest Festival to help make it easy for families to have the camping and festival experience combined. While many festivals have camping, and maybe even a kid-band or two, they are far from kid-focused. You go hoping to enjoy the music and food and people and camp and have a great time, but wow, wasn’t it just so much easier before kids? Also, at most festivals there is rarely much focus on younger children and especially for younger children who need less stimuli. The Family Forest Fest is all about getting children into nature and having both children and parents have a comfortable, fun-filled weekend together.
With kid-focused bands like Red Yarn Productions, Aaron Nigel Smith, Little Miss Ann Band, and guided hikes where children learn about bugs, slugs, and other fun woodland creatures. The schedule is full of workshops for parents to learn communication tools and talking to toddlers, and to learn the LNT (Leave No Trace) principles. The nature play zone is sure to be a festival favorite, and family-friendly yoga classes are offered throughout the weekend. There is a cool gear try-out zone, because parents never have the chance to check out in stores to the full effect (tents to hammocks to strollers to stoves). Ooh and my little guy’s favorite — S’mores over the campfire!
There will be moonlight glowstick hikes, a teddy bear hunt, creative zones for face painting and art projects, inspirational and educational movies at night and much more to keep you and your little one busy. Basically imagine a weekend where kids can run free and parents can relax.
We’ve tried to make packing as easy as we could for you with our Camping Checklist and we recommend you search out some toddler or age-appropriate camping advice online. Plus, I definitely recommend a backyard test-run with the tent before you come and leave and don’t forget the snacks! Nature seems to make kids even more hungry than usual!
We hope we’ve made it easy for you to get outside and camping with your family at least one time this summer. Come join us on Whidbey Island, August 18-20!
About Shanti Hodges
I began the Family Forest Festival in the fall of 2016, and found it to be wildly successful. In 2013, I founded Hike it Baby, a non-profit dedicated to getting families outside with their newborn to school-aged kids. What started as a few moms getting outdoors with their new babies in July 2013 has become an international phenomenon with over 300 Hike it Baby branches and over 40,000 members getting our newsletter every month. It uncovered a huge need for new parents to connect with other like minded adults, battle “new parent” issues like postpartum depression, how to keep a toddler engaged and simply getting outside with others in a supportive environment.
I live in Portland, Oregon with my outdoor-loving husband, Mark, and adventuresome 4-year-old son, Mason. I spend my time promoting the love and need of the great outdoors in every way possible.