Support one-of-a-kind nature community in Southern California!

Click Photo: Earthroots’s 39-acre property, Big Oak Canyon was purchased mid-2013 thanks to the generosity of our community. ?We look forward to tending this land for generations to come. Photo: Silverado Creek at Big Oak Canyon

Mission:
Earthroots is a non-profit 501(c)3 education organization dedicated to cultivating a sense of care and connection between people and the natural world.

Earthroots inspires life-long dedication to environmental stewardship & community through deep nature connection mentoring.

In our creative learning environments, Earthroots participants gain a better understanding of how all of life is connected. They experience how our actions influence the world around us. With this understanding, we hope that individuals then make choices in their daily lives to improve the health of the earth, themselves and each other.

Programs:
We offer classes, workshops & lectures year-round for toddlers, homeschoolers, teens, adults, private and public schools, scout groups and summer camps. Outdoor classrooms include local organic farms, gardens, wilderness parks, green kitchens, beaches, and creeks. These programs are an exploration of our natural world and extend into our connection with all things. Orange County programs meet at new locations each week, ranging from San Clemente to Huntington Beach and east into the Santa Ana Mountains. Each year, we also travel out of our region for family camping trips & adventures.

We build trust and confidence through adventurous challenges and by enjoying the peaceful abundance of the natural world. Some of our favorite seasonal projects include starting, growing and eating from our garden; harvesting acorns, practicing survival skills; weaving with natural fibers; identifying marine tidepool creatures; identifying and eating edible plants in our local wilderness areas; following and identifying animal tracks; understanding bird language; building with natural materials, creating a journal documenting our discoveries; and finding places to be quiet in nature.

We adapt our classes to the interests of our students and allow the spontaneity of the day to guide us. Small groups allow for deeper and more powerful experiences in nature. For the children’s classes, parents are welcome to participate or to drop off. In most situations, younger siblings may accompany parents during class.

Earthroots is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. We welcome your referrals on grants that support getting more kids outdoors, smiling and muddy from head to toe!

Earthroots
P.O. Box 504
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678

admin@earthrootsfieldschool.org
(949) 709-5777


Earthroots PSA Commercial Sponsored by Cox Communications:

We are so excited to share our PSA with our community. Look for it on Cox networks within the South Orange County footprint (i.e. Food Network, MSNBS, VH1, ESPN, Bravo, CNN, MTV, Oxygen, etc.)



…. Earthroots is making a big difference in our lives. Brian is responding so well to the experiential learning. He loves being outdoors and enjoys all the hands on activities. I have watched him bring home rocks from Earthroots and sort them by color, add, subtract and divide them. It is amazing. Just one day a week at Earthroots has allowed him to “connect the dots” on all his other learning experiences. Keep up the good work.

-Todd S, January 2009

Jon Young for Earthroots from Rev. Sandy Moore on Vimeo.

Gifts from the Forest

Gratitude to those who planted and cared for this tree many years ago.

These delicious mini persimmons are one of our favorite snacks this time of year at Big Oak Canyon. If you like wild greens, those are popping up as well. But this persimmon steals the show.


Photo: Ron Plomell

The tree grows in the forest between pines, majestic oak trees and a wood rats nest. Poison oak, English ivy and Matilija poppy are close by. Birds of prey nest on a neighboring tree: excrement and leftover scraps of bone and fur drop to the forest floor daily. I imagine the boost of nutrients it’s roots receive from that wood rats nest. In this forest, nutrients cycle continually and will for as long as there is Big Oak Canyon.

When the persimmon fruit is orange, it is bitter and hard to eat. As it ripens and turns brown and then purple, the flavor sweetens and the fruit begins to shrivel. I’ve been managing Big Oak Canyon for 7 years and I have not seen anyone water it, even once.

Intercropping cultivated foods in the woods is looked down by conservationists who want to conserve as much native habitat as possible, and popular by those wanting to live off the land and keep forests from being cleared for mono-crop agriculture.

Making our backyards work more like a forest gives us all who live in town a way to benefit from the concepts of food forests. You don’t need to put a rats nest in your back yard and crane in an 80-year-old oak tree… but you can use these 5 simple strategies to create a more holistic way for nutrients to cycle in your yard.

1. Plant species of various heights and various fruiting seasons.

2. Create earthen sponges to receive more water by covering the ground with leaves and mulch. If you do nothing else, this simple act will give the currently established trees more water by holding more moisture in the ground and extending access to moist soil until later in the dry season.

3. Feed the soil by composting your excess food scraps and manures. Without nourishment, soils and plants wither away. Compost replenishes the soil. It can be as complex or simple as you make it.

4. Use the energies moving through your space more intentionally. Wind, sun and human presence have an impact. Situate activity zones, plants and walkways in a way that allows for the most benefit from the various energy sources.

4. Plant species that provide native wildlife with food and shelter.

5. Share gratitude and give back to the earth whatever you can.

Stay tuned to the first newsletter in 2019 when we announce upcoming programs on tending the forest with Shane Brown at Big Oak Canyon.

Wild Edibles – Recipes & More

Acorn Pancakes

Acorns can be found beneath southern California Oak trees in the mid to late fall. Acorns have been the staple food source for early Californians for thousands of years, and therefore, an important food to know how to prepare. Generally, November/December is the perfect time to gather acorns in Southern California. Remember to harvest in appropriately designated areas and only what you need. Leave the rest for the animals who depend on acorns as their food source. Most state & county parks have a no gathering policy.

Our local Acorns contain tannic acid that must be leached before eating. (Tannic acid causes stomach aches.) One traditional way of leaching out the tannins was to set the cracked and pealed acorns in a basket and leave them in the creek for 3 days. We do it a little different now. Directions for LEACHING acorns: Crack and open the acorns and remove the nuts. Grind the nuts (by hand or in the blender) to a fine meal. Place the finely ground nuts in the center of a towel sitting in a strainer or in a nut milk bag. Place under the faucet and rinse with a slow, steady stream of water, stopping occasionally to squeeze the towel or bag and observe the color of outflow. It will start out milky tan and become more clear. When clear, taste a few small grains. If the bitterness is no longer there, the tannic acids are leached, and it is ready to cook with.
Leaching with this method may take 30 minutes or more depending on the type of acorns.
*There are many leaching techniques, and recipes for using acorns. To satiate your curiosity, check out
http://siouxme.com/acorn.html
http://www.edibleplants.com/month/wepmonth.htm

Acorn Pancakes
1 cup mashed acorns or acorn flour
2 cups of your favorite flour (almond, corn, amaranth, garbanzo bean, etc.)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (vegan option: tsp flax meal or chia seeds + 1 tbsp water)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 cup water or milk

1. Mix dry ingredients first.
2. Add wet ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Note: the secret to blending pancake batter well is to mix all the wet ingredients together before adding to the bowl of dry ingredients.
3. Adjust consistency by adding a little more water/milk or a little more flour if it’s too thick or thin. Pancake batter should be thin enough to pour, but not runny.
4. Cook on oiled grill.
5. Top with Maple Syrup or prickly pear jam

Ecological Literacy Training

Jodi Levine-Wright spent years exploring the state of California as a teacher with Naturalists at Large before returning to her hometown of Orange County to begin new adventures as the founder of Earthroots Field School. Jodi was steeped in a community of young environmental educators brimming with energy to share what they knew.

This past spring, Earthroots instructors spent 3 days with Naturalists at Large educators right here in OC. Thirty five Naturalists from all over the state experienced the beauty of Big Oak while being immersed in ecological literacy training hosted by Earthroots.

“It feels like a completion of the circle to be able to host current Naturalists at Large educators at Big Oak Canyon and share what we are passionate about at Earthroots”, says Jodi of the training.

The training included hands on instruction on Bird Language, Habitat Restoration, Native Plants as Food & Medicine, Composting, Organic Farming and Natural Building and was funded in part by a grant from the Nature Connection Mentoring Foundation.

The next Ecological Literacy Trainings will be Spring 2018. Teachers, parents and administrators, please inquire for future dates info@earthrootsfieldschool.org

Photo: Naturalist At Large educator tending Wild Hyacinth at Big Oak Canyon during the Habitat Restoration program.

Bring the Future Into Balance

End of year blog by Jodi Levine-Wright

Every one of us understands that our personal health is directly connected to the health of our planet, the health of our ecosystems and the health of our organizations and communities. Feel yourselves be a part of something that’s transformative.

~John D. Spengler

This OC Register article was written by a participant in a recent Bird Language course held at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots’ 39-acre property. Since the article came out last month, I’ve heard from people who are shocked that you can get this kind of deep nature connection experience in Orange County…programs like this area far cry from the mainstream reputation of our OC.

Forest Kindergarten-Thurs-Web-19I smile inward thinking about that because we have been doing this work for 10 years unnoticed by many, yet those who we have mentored are forever transformed. Earthroots is not big and flashy, we are slow and steady. We are deeply connected to a path of building authentic relationships to the earth and the natural systems that support healthy individuals and communities.

It is because of you, and others in the Earthroots community that we exist here at all. The transformational life experiences for our scholarship recipients, the 39 acres of wilderness now protected through the purchase of Big Oak Canyon are still intact and more school children attend nature connection field trips because of you. Thank you for your years of support.

It is this time of year that we ask that you continue to give what you can to support the slow and steady ripples that Earthroots creates in Orange County. We are working to #BringTheFutureIntoBalance.

IMG_4807What are the benefits to Earthroots participants? Read a blog by Kristin, who comes to class every week with her two kids, to hear what she has to say. As the founder of Earthroots, having worked with hundreds of students over the years, I see a whole generation transforming. It’s a big claim to say that I see people taking responsibility for their actions with regard to caring for themselves, the earth and each other, and I see it year after year. People are inspired to make the world a better place once they understand how “what they do” affects the world around them. Earthroots mentors start at the foundation and help participants build relationships of connection that naturally shift how we each live in the world.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.“- Margaret Mead

Please visit our new donate page and contribute today.

IMG_4958In this short video, you can see what we do and hear the kind of impact Earthroots has on today’s participants and future generations. We aim to raise $85,000 to complete the purchase of Big Oak Canyon, continue offering scholarships and expand our programs to give more students in OC life-changing experiences in nature.

You can help facilitate a beautiful change here by supporting Earthroots. Please contribute to our end of year fundraising campaign: www.earthrootsfieldschool.org
Thank you!

Pine Needle Tea Party!

We recently we had our first, of hopefully many, tea parties in Forest Kindergarten class. It was the idea of one of our Instructors, Stacey Anderson, who this summer attended a Forest School training where she was inspired to bring back what she learned. Another teacher at the training hosts tea parties throughout the year, culminating in a graduation celebration where the class dresses up and goes out to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. Imagine that, a room full of 3-6 year olds out to eat. Thankfully they have practiced their manners at Forest Kindergarten.

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Tea parties are an opportunity for children to cultivate calmness and respectful manners while gathered around a table.  It can form a bridge between Forest Kindergarten class and activities we do in everyday life.  At our first tea party we had the children practice sitting with their bottoms on the picnic benches, backs straight, elbows off the table, and hands folded in their laps – requests that are not easy for a group of excited 3-6 year olds!  In Monday’s class, Stacey, modeled being a good host, while I modeled being a pleasant guest.  We practiced our ‘please’s, ‘thank you’s, and asked to be ‘excused’ when done.  We also made our first attempts at being calm and quiet around the table.  In our Tuesday class, Director, Jodi Levine-Wright, gave instructions in her most proper British accent, mimicking her dear Aunt Rose. When Jodi was a child, her Aunt Rose was aghast when she and her brothers strayed from their manners at the table.  We continued on for the rest of the party speaking in accents, which added an unexpected element of fun!

12 2 webChildren are included in the preparation of the tea.

How we made Pine Needle Tea:
1. Instructors harvested fresh pine needles to bring to class (harvest where you have permission, away from polluted areas and avoid potentially harmful species*).
2. Early in our day we had the children help remove the brown papery sheaths on the bottoms of the needle clusters, and pinch the needles in halves. Getting kids involved in as many steps as possible brings more depth to the experience.12112245_10153251610262075_3122652767215588818_n (1)
3. Children took turns adding their pine needles to a big jar of water, which we left in the sun. We discussed what the sun was doing to the pine needles, the benefits of drinking pine needle tea, and that it is a local, wild food that has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. Later that day during our exploration time, we kept an eye out for pine trees and were excited to notice so many!
6. When it was time to serve the tea, we added a touch of honey and poured the strained tea into each cup… so long as each child was showing good manners : )

The children did beautifully and the pine needle tea was a hit.  We are excited to learn about and use other local, wild plants that grow in our area including rose hips, horehound, and nettle as the seasons progress.  As the weather gets cooler we may also make pine needle tea again, but this time mixed with a little hot cocoa!  As the children learn to display excellent manners and calmness at the tea parties, our hope is to allow them to eventually take turns being the host!  We had a fun time together at our first intentional gathering around the table.  We look forward to seeing how the children grow as we continue to have more tea parties throughout the year.  You can find out more about pine needle tea here* including which species of pine needles are safe to use and what the health benefits are. Enjoy!

Nikki Hieb
Forest Kindergarten Instructor
Earthroots Field School

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Thank you Karen Graham and Claudia Boden for sewing our table cloths, and Michelle Watts for donating the cups, bowls and spoons that we use every week. Our classes are held by many loving hands.

Cooking with Acorns

Coast Live Oak AcornsMy favorite trails are littered with acorns from the recent big winds. This incredibly nutritious food has been feeding native people of our region for thousands of years, and is used today by a wide spectrum of cultures.  After reading this blog, I hope that you will feel inspired to cook up a recipe with this local wild edible, take a walk in your local parks and spend time taking in the beauty of nature… and perhaps join me to gather acorns at Big Oak Canyon.

Leaching out the Tannic Acid
An adult friend told me that she remembers hearing as a child that acorns were edible, so she cracked one open, popped it in her mouth and to this day remembers the awfully bitter taste before spitting it out. Our local Coast Live Oak acorns contain high levels of tannic acid that need to be washed out before consuming or they can make you feel sick.

One of my mentors, Jon Young tells a story of how he learned from his elders to leach the tannic acid out of acorns. First, crack the hard shells with a stone, save the inner acorn meat, and toss the hard shells. Put the acorn meat into a basket woven tight enough that the acorns would not fall through the holes, and loose enough that the water could flow through easily. He then set the basket in the creek where the current flowed strong enough that it would wash the acorns, and gentle enough that once secured with stones, the basket would not be swept away. The basket of acorns was left in the creek overnight. The acorn pieces were checked in the morning, and if still tasted bitter, were set in the creek to be washed again. They were finished leaching when the nuts did not taste bitter.

Ground acornsIn our classes, we use the same concept, but with a modern twist. Students remove the hard shells by first cracking them with a stone and separating out the inner acorn meat. They take out any acorn weevils (which are edible!), dark or moldy inner acorn meat and toss that aside, leaving only the lighter fresh smelling acorn meat for consumption. The acorns are then ground with a mortar and pestle until only small pieces remain. Keep in mind, the smaller the pieces, the faster the leaching process. Grinding acorns this way takes a lot of effort, and is great for group activities.

When I’m leaching acorns at home, I fill a blender half way with water, put the de-shelled acorns in the water and blend on high until the pieces are broken up. Some may call this cheating, but hey, it gets my family and I eating acorns! I then leach and strain as described below.

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To wash out the tannic acid, we use a kitchen strainer with a cloth laid on top of it to hold the acorn pieces. We then rinse them under flowing tap water while stirring the acorn meal with our hands to make sure all pieces get washed. Another method is to put the acorn meal inside a nut milk bag instead of using the strainer/cloth. The nut milk bag works best for younger kids so that they don’t spill out any hard earned acorn pieces while rinsing. Try both, see what works best for you!

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You will notice that the first wash leaves the water looking milky. This is good! Repeat washing until the water comes out clear and the nut pieces do not taste bitter. This step could take up to 30 minutes or more of constant rinsing, stirring and squeezing. Don’t give up!

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Once leached, the sky is the limit on how you use these delicious nuts. Jacque Nuñez, a local Acjachemen educator teaches about Wi-wish. Wi-wish is a traditional dish of ground acorns, similar to porridge. I look forward to one day cooking it the old way, in a tightly woven basket filled with water and boiled with fire-heated stones.

Here’s what our classes are cooking:
Earthroots Acorn Pancakes
1 cup acorn meal or acorn flour
1 cup of your favorite flour (corn, amaranth, wheat, garbanzo bean, rice etc)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (vegan option: ½ tsp flax meal + 2 tbsp water)
¼ cup coconut oil or ghee
½ cup honey
2 cups water or any milk

1. Mix dry ingredients first.
2. Add wet ingredients and mix together thoroughly  (Note: the secret to keeping pancake batter from getting lumpy is to be sure to add all the wet ingredients first, mix thoroughly, then add dry ingredients)
3.  Adjust consistency by adding a little more water/milk or a little more flour if it’s too thick or thin.  Pancake batter should be thin enough to pour, but not runny.
4.  Cook on oiled grill.
5.  Top with Maple Syrup or prickly pear jam

Benefits of Acorns
1. They store well – you can keep them all year long. Adding acorns to your diet makes “eating local” more successful since you will have a good storage of nuts to supplement the seasonal ebb and flow of your garden harvest.
2. Acorns are full of vitamins and minerals.
3. They are a great source of protein and complex carbohydrates.
4. They are 100% local.

Harvesting Acorns
– As with all wild harvested plants, make sure you are harvesting out of harms way from pollution, run off and places where pesticides or other toxins are used.
– Select acorns with intact shells, no holes and no mold. Holes are distinct signs that an acorn weevil has taken residency. If you find acorns with holes, crack one open and see what’s inside.
– Remember to harvest in appropriately designated areas (OC Parks and CA State parks while great places to explore nature are off limits to gathering of any kind) and only take what you need. Leave the rest for the animals who depend on acorns as their food source.

Get to know acorn this season by joining us at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39 acre property in Silverado Canyon where we teach ethical wild harvesting along with sustainable living and nature connection skills. Kids young and old will be harvesting acorns along with many other activities November 7, 2015. We hope you will join us.

Happy Harvesting!
Jodi Levine-Wright

Beck Family Backcountry Adventure

Written by Sarah Beck, mom, guest blogger & long time Earthroots participant.

When my husband suggested a backpacking trip with our two and four year old kids this summer I was hesitant. I love camping and being outside with my family; but car camping is an endeavor to say the least. The amount of work, gear, and planning it takes to simply get out the door can be incredibly overwhelming. And now my husband was proposing that we pack both kids and all of our gear up a mountain for an overnighter? I honestly wondered if it was possible.

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Beck Family geared up for the big hike. Photo by Erin Lutrick 

Layla, our four year old daughter is moving into her second year of the Forest Kindergarten program through Earthroots Field School. We LOVE it. Oddly enough, even though my husband is an outdoor enthusiast, he has questioned my choice to enroll our kids in Forest Kindergarten. “It is too expensive” and “It takes too much time” are some of his basic arguments for why we should maybe not do it. I agree. It does cost money and it is almost a full days commitment. And much like his proposed backpacking trip, Forest Kindergarten requires forethought, gear and planning. The thing is, I wouldn’t provide my kids with 5-6 hours of weekly consecutive outdoor time if it were not for Earthroots. I wouldn’t teach them about our local ecology or how to take the time to really enjoy being out in the wild on a regular basis. If not for Forest Kindergarten, connection to wilderness would be something my kids would see a few times a year versus once a week. There is huge value in this.
So, there we were, my husband hesitant about Earthroots and me hesitant about backpacking. Jodi’s blog post about backpacking came at the perfect time. I was incredibly nervous about packing our kids up a mountain and there it was, 5 Tips to Backpacking with Children.

I read it to my husband after our kids went to sleep one evening.  It created a platform for discussing how best to plan our adventure.

Tip one: Keep the mileage short. We both took this to heart. We determined that I would likely be carrying my 2-year-old son on my back, my husband would carry the majority of our gear and our 4-year-old daughter would hike on her own. We both wondered if she could really do it. We decided that 2 miles should be our maximum hiking distance.

Tip two: Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. This was amazing advice. We live in such a busy world where we are constantly rushing and ushering our children to the next event or errand. Kids like to take their time to observe and wonder about the world and it is so rare that we allow them the opportunity to go at their pace. We agreed that in order for the trip to be a success for our kids that we had to allow them to take the lead.

Snack time on the trail! Photo Jesse Beck

Tip three: Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  My husband and I really struggled with this one. What food should we bring? What would we make for dinner? What kind of snacks would be best? So this tip was incredibly helpful for us as we packed and picked foods for the kids. While we did pack nutrient-dense snacks we also packed a few surprise treats that we don’t normally eat as a fun surprise to keep the kids motivated. This worked great!

Tip five: Positivity is key. This was easy advice to follow. We were away from our regular life, outside in the mountains, and away from the stress of our normal life. We worked really hard to encourage our daughter so that she felt confident about her ability to hike 2 miles up a mountain.

So we packed our things, headed up to the Eastern Sierras, met up with our friends who have a 20 month old and an almost 6 year old and started hiking up the mountain.  I think perhaps a 6th tip would be to: Be prepared for the unexpected.  There are some major fires happening in the Western Sierras right now and air quality was incredibly smoky.  We had to choose a new location further south for our hike to avoid the smoke.

11951944_10205955285655906_4621070751974330540_nSarah’s 4 year old crossing her first creek by herself. Photo Sarah & Jesse Beck

The minute we hit the trail it was evident how much Earthroots has impacted our kids, particularly four year old Layla. My husband noticed and immediately commented on how natural our daughter appeared on the trail. She was tuned in to the plants and talked about them; she looked for scat from animals and informed us. She asked questions about what animals lived in the area. She noted the creek and trail and discussed our destination. The trail was about 2 miles long, rocky, and steep. We heeded Jodi’s advice and stopped a lot. We followed the lead of the children allowing them to determine the pace. Our daughter insisted that she carry her own backpack with her own water and snacks. It took just over four hours to make it to our destination, but the destination was a huge reward. We found a beautiful campsite next to a lake, caught fish for breakfast and dinner, built a fire, used the outdoors as our bathroom, enjoyed “camp food”, and experienced the richness of the wilderness through our children’s eyes. We enjoyed a morning adventure where we explored the lake and the area around it and did more fishing. (The fishing and cooking of the fish was Layla’s favorite part of the adventure). Our hike home was downhill and steep, the kids led the pace and rocked! My husband mentioned many times during the trip that he now saw the value of Earthroots and the lessons that Forest Kindergarten conveys. Our children’s natural understanding and comfort outdoors is directly influenced by Earthroots.

11949420_10205955295056141_6984540389028449791_nFresh fish with Jesse & the kids. Photo by Sarah Beck

I think we underestimate the ability of children and as parents often opt out of experiences simply because the idea of doing things out of the ordinary with children can be overwhelming. While I was initially hesitant, our first backpacking experience was an amazing. Through our experience my husband and I both learned lessons and changed perspectives. I opened up to the idea of overnight backpacking as a family and my husband saw first hand the value and impact of the Earthroots experience.

Earthroots is offering a Family Backpacking Training series that begins in September. Check out the program and experience the awesome combination of family backpacking and Earthroots Field School!

Maybe we’ll see you there, we intend to do a lot more backpacking in the future!!

-The Becks

5 Tips to Backpacking with Children

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Earthroots founding director Jodi Levine-Wright with her daughter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

A lot has happened since my last blog update… Earthroots purchased 39-acre Big Oak Canyon, I had a baby, our program offerings have expanded and our staff has grown.

Having now graduated two years of
participants in Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series, it is a proven success.  Yes, we are taking kids of all ages (with their parents) into the wild to experience being fully plugged into nature! The outcomes are incredible.

Just returning home from my first backcountry trip with my family (including my one year old daughter) I can tell you that it was one of the most challenging things we have done together, and also one of the most rewarding. I give a huge thumbs up to everyone who takes their kids backpacking, it is a big undertaking.

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Gone fishing! Photo by Jeannie Lee

So why rough it?
One of the most satisfying elements of spending time in the backcountry is connecting with oneself, family and travel companions without the distraction of cell phones, computers and cars. Where we live, fully unplugging from technology is nearly impossible, yet completely enjoyable! Being fully present with those around us is what life is all about, right? Additional rewards of plugging into the wild include being surrounded by mind blowing landscapes, pristine lakes to swim in, new sights and sounds, fresh air and moments of deep relaxation. Totally worth everything it takes to get there. Read on for an inside scoop to make your next backpacking trip a success.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Backpacking with Children
by Jeannie Lee and Jodi Levine-Wright

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series                 Photo by Shelly Mead

1. Keep the mileage low (2-3 miles per day) and plan on an hour per mile. Hiking at elevation and with weight is much more strenuous than hiking around your local hills. Before hitting the trail, we planned on hiking 5 miles that first day. After a few steps with a weighted pack (the toddler, a bear canister full of food, water, rain gear, diapers!! and miscellaneous gear), it was pretty clear we would be stopping at the alternative site just 2 miles in. Thank goodness for planning ahead with options! We ended up keeping that site as our basecamp for three nights and going on day excursions from there. It was a total departure from our plans, but was exactly what we needed.

2. Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. That’s why we make the effort to get into the woods in the first place! Kids need downtime and playtime. They will also make incredible discoveries with their innate curiosity and keen eyes.

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Taking it all in, Cottonwood Lakes.                        Photo by Jeannie Lee

3. Keep children’s backpack weights low (if you want them to want to do it again). Jeannie’s 7-year old carried 2.5 liters of water, snacks, raincoat, warm hat, down vest, whistle and whatever rocks and sticks he’d collected along the way. Yes, the grown-up gets to carry everything else.

4. Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  Cheese, carrots and shredded cabbage pack well, as do seeds, nuts and dried fruit. But no need to stick to “trail food”, Pita Pizzas were a massive hit! (We will share that recipe soon!)

5. Positivity is key. Expect the unexpected and go with what is. Between weather, elevation, weighted packs, and new challenges, your itinerary may not unfold the way you had originally planned. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way to making the trip enjoyable and encourage interest in future backcountry excursions for the whole family.

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series

Want to know more? Join  Earthroots Family Backpacking Training series starting September 19 – you’ll learn everything else you need to know and taste a backpacking meal every hike! This series meets once a month for 8 months and includes 2 backcountry trips to get you and your family ready for adventures to come.

See you out there!
Jodi Levine-Wright