The goal: thirty miles in thirty days or thirty minutes outside three times a week. Twice a year, the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge encourages families to make outdoor time a priority.
But, did you know that the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge is one of Hike it Baby’s largest fundraisers? As a growing non-profit, Hike it Baby relies on donation-based participation to fund programs that include getting new families on trail with scholarships, maintaining website tools, creating programs that reach families both online and offline, and helping Hike it Baby pursue long-term strategic goals.
Where Did “30” Come From?
In October of 2014, Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges received a text from her friend Beth. Beth’s Hike it Baby branch hike had been canceled and she was feeling bummed because she was looking forward to the motivation of having others on the trail with her. Beth texted Shanti, “Hey, I am on the Wildwood trail hiking alone. I would love to hike this whole trail. It’s 30 miles. Want to do it with me next month throughout the whole month?” Always up for a challenge, Shanti said, “YEAH!!!!”
They talked it out and set-up the “rules.” The idea wasn’t that they had to do it together, but that they were both doing it in the same month. That would inspire them to get out even if they couldn’t hike together.
Thus, Hike it Baby 30 was born.
A Lasting Impact for Hike it Baby
At the same time that Shanti and Beth decided to challenge themselves, Hike it Baby was a new organization, staggering under its sudden growth (about 30 cities total). Funds were scarce and with each new branch, Hike it Baby needed more money to maintain the infrastructure and keep the lights on.
Beth and Shanti discussed making the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge a fundraiser. They posed it as a Challenge to the community to see if anyone would sign up. Within a few weeks, 200 families donated $10 each and committed to the Challenge. The $2,000 raised kept Hike it Baby going for a few more months and the Challenge was a rousing success.
“What I found with the Challenge was how exciting and inspiring it was to see families in Alaska in November get out with headlamps in the dark and families in Texas hiking in shorts, while we slogged along in rain [in Oregon],” says Shanti. “And I loved seeing how people propped each other up on down days. If a family even got one mile in the month, everyone cheered for them. I looked at it like this: Every mile we each got was one more mile we wouldn’t have done if the Challenge wasn’t there.”
Make the Challenge Fit Your Life
Although the Challenge has established goals, each family makes the Challenge their own. Some go for a total number of minutes or miles in the month, some opt for no zero-days, and still, others may tackle a specific list of trails. Whatever your season of life, you can make the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge work for you while encouraging more outdoor time for your family.
Remember, the Challenge isn’t a contest. The goal is to challenge yourself and your family to spend more time outside, not to compete for the most miles or minutes. Those that have participated multiple times hit their goals some Challenge months and fall short during others. Regardless of how they measure up against their goals, most families find they get outside more often and that is a win.
“At the end of the day, the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge isn’t about the miles; it’s about finding a way to create a healthy habit and receiving motivation from people around you.”
Shanti Hodges, Hike it Baby Founder
Donate and Join the Challenge
The Hike it Baby 30 Challenge is open to all; you don’t have to be a current Hike it Baby member to join. For families with children who have aged out, the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge is a great way to stay involved and donate to an organization you love. On the flip side, new Hike it Baby members receive one free entry into the Challenge, making it the perfect way to kick-off your new membership!
There are multiple participation levels, with a minimum donation of $10 to join the Challenge. All Challenge participants receive a unique Hike it Baby 30 Challenge sticker, entry into prize drawings from Challenge sponsors, access to a dedicated Facebook group, and exclusive discounts. Registration is open through September 15, 2019, and miles and minutes earned anytime in September count.
This story includes excerpts from Why Join the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge, written by Shanti Hodges, and posted on September 1, 2017. Read the full story here.
Photos by Michelle Craig.