It’s Been Quite a Year
Thanks 2020, it’s been real. Australian bushfires, a long-overdue cry for social justice and reform, Megan and Harry leaving the Royal family, a US Presidential election, and let’s not forget a global pandemic and all of the extra baggage that brought with it. The silver lining is that when we go through tough things it often brings clarity and helps us to focus on what’s really important.
At Hike it Baby, the tumultuous year brought changes both big and small. Some were reactive and some came from the knowledge we gained by looking at our organization through a different lens. Our actions intend to better serve our communities, our environment, and the many people we haven’t reached yet but hope to. Despite the hurdles, we made a lot of progress this year and we’re pretty dang proud of how far this non-profit has come.
A New Hike it Baby Mission Statement
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our communities were confronted with the need to stay close to home, local park and trail closures, and trails and outdoor areas that were too crowded for comfort or safety. The lack of access helped us realize how much we need time outside and what it feels like to lack open and safe outdoor space. And the unfortunate reality sunk in that many people never have access to outdoor space or feel welcome and safe in outdoor spaces.
We amended our mission statement to focus on two matters that have become abundantly clear as we navigated this year:
- That all families with babies and children have safe, equitable, and welcome access to outdoor space
- That spending time outside in any form makes you “outdoorsy”.
We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature.
Free Hike it Baby Membership
In revising our membership and recognizing that there should be no barriers to the outdoors, we made the big decision to remove paid membership. Anyone, anywhere can join Hike it Baby for free.
Like membership, we want our programming and resources to reach as many people as possible. We opened Hike it Baby 30, our bi-annual fundraiser challenge event in April of 2020 to anyone, free of charge, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly realized that instead of trying to tackle major goals or milestones, the goal should be to simply get outside. In our mission to remove barriers to getting outside, no-cost events, with a suggested donation for those who are able, make it accessible for everyone to benefit from event resources, community and increased outdoor time.
Change to Virtual Events & Added Resources
Due to the pandemic, we closed in-person, group hikes. To compensate for the inability to gather, local Branches organized virtual hike events in their Branch Facebook groups to encourage families to continue to get outside safely. Participants shared their experiences with photos and comments. We also created a national community Facebook group, open to everyone, where parents and caregivers can ask questions, learn from one another, and share their adventures.
Additionally, we built a library of downloadable activity sheets and articles that encourage and motivate families to get outside in a way that works for them.
Goals moving forward in 2021
We will continue our work to change the narrative on what it means to go outside and who is welcome there. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. We hope to accomplish a number of milestones in 2021, including:
♥️ Engage over 500,000 families so our message to normalize nature connects more families with the outdoors.
♥️ Continue to grow our local communities with free membership.
♥️ Provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training opportunities for staff and volunteers (over 400 people) and continue to develop and share diverse content with our community that reinforces our belief that all families have the right to connect with nature.
♥️ Support our communities with resources that help families get outside, including workbooks, articles, virtual speaking events, and inspiring stories.
♥️ Introduce an interactive, in-person guided walk program with the help of our partners and our local community leaders – more information to come soon!
You can help achieve these goals by making a one-time donation or set-up a monthly recurring donation.
The Best is Yet to Come
Despite the challenges of 2020, the Hike it Baby community continues to grow and we are grateful for the ongoing support of our mission. We’ve served over 275,000 community members and fostered over 16,000 hikes (read more in our 2019 Annual Report). Our communities rallied and made the best of this year, together.
While we don’t believe like the lifting of a magic spell in a cartoon movie that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st all will be right again in the world. But we remain hopeful about the future. Small progress adds up to big results, always.
If we consider the added time we’ve spent outside, the more time we’ve spent at homes and with our family, the ways we found to connect despite the distance, and our ability to adapt, perhaps you can find a silver lining in this year, too.