Tag Archives: NRPA

Camping Made Easy

OAK Member Guest Blog by Eric Bach and Irene Lam from Hipcamp

Camping should be simple. If I want to get outside with my family next weekend and camp by the ocean, I should be able to. However, after spending hours of searching online to answer these questions, we realized it really isn’t so easy.

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This was the inspiration for Hipcamp. We wanted to be able to answer basic questions such as, “where can I go camping next weekend with my dog and take a shower?” Or, “Where can I go camping with my family in a redwood forest where we can go fishing nearby?” Right now there are no places to find this information with real-time availability. With this in mind, Hipcamp has embarked on a journey to catalog all of the parks (starting in the gorgeous California, where we are based), and provide users with one simple, easy-to-use interface where they can find park overviews, detailed descriptions of available activities for families and kids, insider tips, park history, and real time availability for camping; it really is camping made easy.

By making this process more accessible and compiling the fragmented data into a “one-stop shop,” we save users time. Instead of sitting in front of the screen with 50 different tabs open trying to book a campsite for Yosemite, users can visit Hipcamp, see what campsites and activities are available, get a feel for the park through the written content and photography, and reserve their spot, all under ten minutes. This is beneficial for families who want to take their kids camping, but might not have the time to plan a trip or have never camped before.

We’re also a great resource for discovering new family vacation spots. Instead of heading to the same place every year, you can be inspired to try new, awesome parks that you otherwise might never hear about. We want families to have fun exploring together, to find all the necessary accommodations and exciting adventures they dream about.

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We think it is important for people, especially children, to get outside to connect with nature and their loved ones. In this digital age it is becoming harder and harder to unplug from it all. At Hipcamp, we use technology to get people away from technology, something that is becoming increasingly important. It may be difficult to turn off your phone and ignore your email for a few days, but it’s necessary to recharge your own batteries every now and then. Unplugging also sets a positive example for kids– they need to realize that their worlds do not have to revolve around technology either. Kids should feel as excited about the outdoors as they do about getting a new high score on 2048!

By reaching out to local organizations and nonprofits, we are spreading the word about the necessity of reconnecting with nature. We recently signed on as supporters of OAK member National Wildlife Federation‘s “Be Out There” campaign to get more kids outdoors. We are also celebrating July as Park and Recreation month with another OAK member, the National Recreation and Park Association, by volunteering in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

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We imagine a world where children, youth and families can have a positive connection with nature and that’s why we joined OAK. We believe in the power of being unplugged in the outdoors, and we understand the necessity of conserving natural land. It’s our mission to ensure that the next generation is healthier and happier.

5 Ways to Celebrate Kids to Parks Day

U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Ranking Member Rob Portman (R-Ohio), U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joined together to introduce a resolution to urge America’s youth to live active lifestyles and to enjoy and protect our nation’s special places to mark the fourth annual Kids to Parks Day. In support of Kids to Parks Day, here is an excellent blog by OAK member NRPA outlining different ways to get involved!

OAK member guest blog by Jessica Culverhouse, National Recreation and Park Association 

originally published in Open Space

If you’re a regular Open Space reader, you may have seen my first blog for NRPA, 5 Ideas for Exploring Nature with Kids this Winter. Mercifully, that long, white winter is behind us, and it’s time to shed the extra layers of clothing and head back to the park to enjoy spring: the season of renewal and rebirth. There is so much to do in the park during the springtime – from baseball games to busy afternoons at the playground. Spring is also great time to get into the park to enjoy the wonders of the natural world as plants and wildlife reemerge from their winter rest.

If you need another reason to head to the park, Kids to Parks Day is May 17. Coordinated by the National Park Trust, Kids to Parks Day is an annual nationwide celebration to bring kids to their parks for active outdoor play. My family and I are planning a picnic and games in one of our favorite local parks on May 17. How will you join in? Here are 5 ways to celebrate Kids to Parks Day – or any spring day in the park!

More and more parks are realizing the value of offering community garden plots—public areas where individuals or groups of family and friends can grow vegetables or flowers. There are many benefits to offering community gardens, including supporting children’s connections to the natural world, healthy eating, and intergenerational connections. NRPA has produced a helpful Community Gardening Handbook, with information specifically for park and recreation agencies to help plan and implement community gardens. Visit KidsGardening.org for information and tips, and read about Grand Traverse Children’s Garden in Traverse City, Mich.’s Hull Park for a great example of a park that has embraced gardening with kids.

Run—don’t walk—to your local park for Kids to Parks Day May 17!
Run—don’t walk—to your local park for Kids to Parks Day May 17!

Water play
What child doesn’t love to splash in a puddle? Spring showers make for plenty of opportunities for puddle-splashing. But before you jump, take a closer look for creatures that take advantage of temporary ponds – called vernal pools – to lay their eggs. You may find tadpoles or tiny juvenile salamanders swimming in the water. The Vernal Pool Association has information on vernal pools and the animals that call them home. Exploring a vernal pool is a fun way to introduce young kids to animal lifecycles and ecology.

Nature scavenger hunt
A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to get to know your park and the wildlife that lives there. Our friends at the National Wildlife Federation put together a few tips on how to organize a scavenger hunt, including print-outs for younger and older children. Use your smartphone camera to document your finds.

Spring is a great time for nature photography, and with digital and smartphone cameras in nearly every parent’s pocket, even the youngest park visitors can enjoy snapping pictures of fuzzy caterpillars and colorful spring wildflowers. Check out these simple tips for nature photography with kids for a few strategies to help kids learn to express themselves and appreciate nature through photography.

Camping is a great way for families and friends to spend time together outdoors, and camping with kids doesn’t have to be intimidating. Your local park is a great place to start: it’s close to home, you already know the lay of the land, and chances are you know where to find emergency provisions if your plans for a gourmet campfire dinner go awry. Check out REI’s tips for camping with kids for the basics, and stay tuned for my June Open Space post with more tips on camping with young children.

Jessica Culverhouse is Senior Manager of Fundraising at the National Recreation and Park Association. She is a former teacher and environmental educator, mom and volunteer Master Naturalist.