A lot can happen on Hike it Baby hikes: exploration, new friendships, reaching new milestones, gaining a supportive network. With a little creativity, some branches are expanding Hike it Baby’s reach into new communities and culture. Hike it Baby Sacramento is one such branch that is currently exploring and expanding their Spanish-speaking hikes.
The United States’ Spanish-speaking population is on the rise. At 41 million, the U.S. has more Spanish speakers than Spain and is currently second to Mexico. The Census Bureau estimates that that number will hit 138 million by 2050.
Initially motivated by a personal interest to ensure that her son was fluent in both English and Spanish, Sacramento Branch Lead Heather Osoy, shortly after starting the branch began to hear from other families who also wanted to be immersed in both languages. And so it started!
How did this all get started Heather?
During early Summer 2015, I promoted a Spanish-speaking hike. The interest was high, but the timing was poor. No one showed up, but many bugged me to do another one. Mamas told me they were raising their little ones in bilingual households as well, or wanted to brush up on old Spanish skills in a supportive environment.
In late October of this year, I finally promoted a second Spanish-speaking hike. For the hike submission description, I included a Spanish translation. I used Spanglish visual promotions on the group page, and tagged everyone who expressed interest in the past. The plan was to meet at the trailhead for storytime, then go on a toddler-led hike. Although there was a lot of interest, only a handful of people showed. Adrienne Richey, our other HiB Branch Lead, was in attendance. It was still a great time!
After doing a welcome circle in Spanish, I read “Donde Viven Los Montrous”- the Spanish equivalent of “Where The Wild Things Are.” We then went on a toddler led hike down a trail that was half-mile long. It was an ideal length for little ones in costumes. At the end of the trail was a playground. We hung out there for playtime. Gradually, the conversation moved from Spanish to Spanglish to English. Everyone was bilingual. Once lunch time hit, we looped back to our cars as a group.
When I thought up the hike, I wanted everyone to feel welcome — regardless of one’s Spanish literacy level, age or physical ability. I scheduled it on a Saturday as well, to enable working parents to come. I felt like everyone was comfortable. A couple new mamas came out, and their experiences were positive.
After the hike ended and the photos were posted, membership jumped 0.6 percent in two days with Spanish-Speaking mamas. Parents felt more open to posting in Spanish, and brainstorming Spanish-themed hikes. Even my husband got inspired to lead a hike. By the end of that week, an active HIB mama (Yessica Vergara), with much better Spanish fluency than I, agreed to become our third Branch Lead, and be in charge of Spanish-speaking relations.
Although, Yessica wasn’t available to participate in the initial Spanish-speaking hikes, she was ecstatic at the concept.
How do you feel about the first few hikes?
I am very happy we are able to have Spanish-speaking hikes because we are able to reach out to the Hispanic community. I have seen some Spanish speaking members interested in making to hikes.
I have been planning some hikes for Spanish and English speaking members so they can share and learn from both cultures. Having other members share and get to know each other, getting kids out and let them play is what I consider as a big success!
If you are thinking about scheduling a bilingual hike in your branch, what are your tips to help get a branch started.
I suggest you incorporate a theme, and think about who your “audience” is. Some may appreciate a straight-forward conversational Spanish hike (I’d consider that a “black level language” hike). Until you know for sure, start out with a game, craft, food, or storytime. Look up bilingual storytimes at a local library, or nearby cultural events. You could even turn a cultural festival into an urban stroll.
Hike it Baby currently has Spanish hikes in Portland and Sacramento, and is hoping to expand further. Anyone can lead a hike so if you are interested submit one today! Contact your local branch lead for help promoting it for better attendance.
Reported by Bailey Ludlam, freelance editor, writer and Branch Co-Lead for Hike it Baby Salt Lake City. Follow her on Twitter @baileyludlam.