c When you become a military family there is change. Whether the change is packing up your life and moving to a new state/country, or being away from your loved ones for long periods of time, change is imminent in the military. Hike it Baby is solid in our lives.
I was a year post military service (medically retired), and my husband’s deployment time was quickly approaching. It was a refreshing idea to get out and find something to busy my days but nerve-wracking in the same instance. I lurked for a while but decided to take the plunge with my three boys in tow.
My first impression was community; structure, everything that I needed and more. As my husband deployed I dug myself deeper into Hike it Baby and became a Branch Lead. I structured my days around hikes, added hikes for my empty days and focused on helping run our little piece of Hike it Baby with my three other Branch Leads in Hampton Roads. Now we are at our halfway mark for this deployment and time has whizzed by.
One of the most important things that Hike it Baby has done for me is it’s given me a family. Once I began hiking with Hike it Baby I met great people who became my friends–best friends. Being away from family (something that most military members are all too aware of), my Hike it Baby family filled their void. We laugh, we cry, and we overall just love that we found each other through a mutual love of being out in nature. Something that would have never happened if we didn’t take the chance and join that first hike.
I’m not alone in my opinion on Hike it Baby and its supportive nature that seems to attract the military lifestyle. Here are stories from other HiB military families:
Emily Burkard is a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Hampton Roads and is also Active Duty Navy. She explains that our love of hiking is the true connection. She recommends Hike it Baby to all of her shipmates because the values of Hike it Baby are ones she would love to pass along to her sailors and children.
Becky Jensen Tanner is a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Salt Lake City. Becky (Reserve) and her spouse serves in the United States Army. Becky loves Hike it Baby because it gave her family a chance to gain an outdoor community after a military move. She loves the guarantee of friends and adult talk while out on her local hikes.
Whitney Dills is a Branch Leader for Hike it Baby Hampton Roads and a Navy spouse.
She goes into detail on how much Hike it Baby has impacted her as a military spouse: “Being a military family is not for the faint of heart. The parent who is not active duty spends more time being a single parent than they do being part of two parent family. And sometimes even when my husband is home from deployment he’s often staying late at work or away for training. Then we started hike it baby, it’s like a gate opened into a whole new world. One goal: get outside with your kids with friendly like-minded people. I haven’t stopped smiling since. At my lowest of lows I considered the possibility of needing anti-depressants but putting it off because I was nursing. Every day I show up to a hike to see smiling parents and kids and real friends who care about me and Ella. They are my happy place and I don’t feel so alone when I’m being a sometimes single parent.”
Ashley Brower is a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Middleton and is also an Air Force spouse. She expresses her love of Hike it Baby because it gives her something to do when her spouse goes on training missions or other various military duties. She also points out with the growth and expansion of Hike it Baby throughout the World, it has given military families a home wherever the military takes them.
Heather Yale is a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Burlington County. Her Spouse is Air Force. As a military spouse Hike it Baby gave Heather the opportunity to find support far from home. She loved that everyone has the same mindset and that she felt comfortable. She recommends Hike it Baby because of its unique ability to leave the drama and cliques off the trails which ensures that everyone, from regular to newbie to military, is treated equally and feels supported in their commitment to be in nature.
Errign Siek is a member of Hike it Baby Hampton Roads and a Navy spouse. Her husband deployed soon after their move to this duty station. She feels that she has a community behind her and her newborn son and feels that Hike it Baby gave her far more confidence going into this deployment.
All of these hikers have two things in common. They have dealt with the stresses of military commitment and the loneliness that comes with being in the military, but they have also felt the support that Hike it Baby provides for all of its members, the community that has been created all over the world. They can walk away from their current duty station knowing that wherever they go Hike it Baby will be waiting for them on the trails.
Photo Credit: Kayla Klein, Whitney Dills
Kayla Klein is a Branch Lead for Hike it Baby Hampton Roads. She is also a United States Navy veteran and Navy spouse of her husband who is currently deployed. She spends her days hiking with her three boys (Carson, Evan, and Charleston) and teaching them to love and appreciate all things outdoors.