Sunday, January 22, 2017

Homeschooling Hikers

This past summer I decided to create a group for homeschoolers who enjoy hiking as much as we do.  This group is called, the "Austin Area Homeschoolin' Hikers".  Austin Area Homeschoolin' Hikers is a group dedicated to giving our homeschoolers regular exploration time outdoors with friends. Research continues to show how rich learning outdoors through play is for young kiddos! I schedule at least one big group hike per month and the hike is packed full of learning opportunities. Not only that, but the kids just get to freely be kids, wild and free kids.  That is the best kind of kid to be, right?

I love watching the kids play and explore together on these hikes.  The dynamics of these group hikes is completely different than our family hikes.  On our family hikes, we stop more to discuss different things we find, but our pace is a little faster.  On these group hikes, the kids stop for detours much more frequently--especially if there is water.  If water is nearby, we know there will be many stops to play in the water.  The kids come up with projects to do together.  These projects include building dwelling structures (such as teepees), building dams or even bridges.  They work together and it is amazing to witness how much they can accomplish in such little time.  The kids effortlessly divide up the work and work so well together.  It is a delight to watch. Many adults could learn something by watching these children.  :-)

 On Friday, we hiked the Great Hills Trail in Austin.  This is a fun little trail that is actually located within a neighborhood.  You would never know it though by the looks of it once you are on the trail.   The last time we hiked it as a family, we enjoyed finding several geocaches hidden along the trail.  But this time, the kids most enjoyed playing in the creek.  So much so, that they actually spent about 3 hours in the creek, having a blast, just being kids.  I believe most parents have to work at fighting the tendency to be concerned about their kids getting dirty or wet.  As a parent who isn't yet experienced with letting their kids just be kids, you worry about such things.  What will we do if they get drenched from head to toe?  What if they get those expensive shoes dirty?   I have learned that clothes dry, the mud can be washed off, and clothing and shoes can be easily thrown into the washing machine.  The memories these kids make without having to worry about getting wet or muddy clothes is well worth them having to travel back home with no clothing on.  :-)  If I worried about these things, then my kids would miss out on so many fun experiences.

Y'all, I had just as much fun as the kids on this hike.  I really am immensely thankful that God led me to homeschooling.  Today in church I told a couple about our fun hike on Friday.  They were asking me about homeschooling, as they are expecting their first child.  As I recapped the week, I realized how excited I sounded about the fun we had last week.  The husband said, "wow, I want to have that job!"  That's when I remembered that this really is a job and my employee satisfaction level is extremely high!  No matter what role God calls you to (whether that be homeschooling, a professional business career, a career in the ministry or whatever it may be) when you are in His will, it just feels right and is so amazing!  Here are some photos of some of the fun we had with friends on our most recent hike.   

On this hike there were about 20 kids.  here are just a few that I could fit into a photo while we waited on the rest of our group to catch up.

Luke and Abbey brought their cameras and found some fun things to take pictures of.  Luke loved this angle from atop a huge boulder.

Abbey was proud of her ability to climb onto the big boulder.

She also was proud of her ability to climb this steep area.  Her climbing abilities are improving.

We crossed the creek many times.

I love the homeschooling moms that are part of our group.  Abbey is particularly fond of this mom, Ms. Trish.

As I mentioned before, these kids love water.

This tree bridge was my favorite!  The kids loved it too.

They crossed it, they went over it, they went under it....

You can tell these kids are just having a blast.  Who cares that their clothes are wet!

love this tree!

Look at the joy in his expression as he crosses!

It was fun to balance on the tree bridge!

The kids devised a plan to build a dam to try to stop the creek water from flowing.

They took a little break from building the dam.

Then it was back to work.  Teamwork at its finest. 

Every rock was placed just so.


Abbey even jumped in and helped.  At first, I was concerned about her getting really wet.  I was only concerned because I was worried she would complain about being wet.  I didn't care if she was wet, but I don't like whining and complaining.  She didn't complain once!  I was so proud of her!!!

I love her!!!  She was the only girl out of the 20 or so kids and she hung right with those boys!

more perfect placement.

Look at all this hard work! these kids did this all by themselves!

Our friend, Jack, found a really cool twisted stick!

Our friend, Colton did some nature journaling.

Once the kids finished their dam, they moved onto try to climb this huge, steep rock wall.   It was gorgeous and there was even fresh spring water peacefully dripping from the top. 

we took one more scenic loop to a little waterfall before we ended our long hike.

And the kids did a little more climbing.

Abbey loves her camera.  I believe she may be a future photographer.  here she is taking a picture of me, taking a picture of her, taking a picture of me...
I love our homeschooling hikers!

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