Camping – A Great Adventure for Kids

Camping  is the perfect antidote to the fast paced, highly structured, screen focused lifestyle many of our kids experience. Last weekend we camped with five other families at Gold Creek Campground in GoldenEars Provincial Park. (I recommend this campsite over the Alouette Campground as the forested area between sites is too dense to play in at the Alouette site.)

Basically, put a dozen kids, average age 9, in a  forest, and they really don’t come back until dinner. For two days the kids played non-stop Capture the Flag, Man Hunt,  hide and go seek, and Zombies. They picked their own teams, negotiated their disputes and only emerged when they were hungry, thirsty or hurt. We even had to convince them to go to the beach!




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Family Friendly Biking Routes

I discovered Let’s Go Biking blog last summer and used it to plan several family bike rides. We cycled Barnston Island, Queensborough, and New Westmisnter/Pier Park to name a few. The maps and information are helpful but sometimes a little out of date. If you are around New Westminster this May long weekend, consider taking the bikes down to Pier Park and the Quay for an easy ride with the kids and then participate in the annual DiverseCity Multicultural Festival that’s taking place on Saturday, May 18 at Westminster Quay from 12 to 6 p.m.

A picture of my kids and another family biking at Pier Park last summer.

Family bike ride at Pier Park

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Christmas Fun

Snow really puts the ‘fun’ in Christmas. We were lucky this Christmas to travel to the Okanagan (British Columbia) where there was lots of snow.

True to Canadian tradition we cleared the driveway of snow and had a spirited game of road hockey. I must confess to limited participation as I was inside sipping locally produced wine. It was a long drive after all!

If only every backyard could have enough hill to create a sledding area. My brother built a sledding track down his neighbour’s driveway that spilled out into his own yard. Life is good when you can get up, eat some cereal and be out sledding in the backyard before mom and dad have even made coffee.

My favourite part was the winter bonfire. This was a first for me.

Living in a city, we don’t come across much wildlife, other than a few local coyotes and an overgrown squirrel population, so it was rather impressive to see so many deer cross through my brother’s backyard.

At a time of year when we spend a lot of time shopping and rushing around, it was wonderful to experience the joys of being outside with my kids and remembering to slow down and just play.

Growing Up Urban the outside way…

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Burnaby Parks Critter Caper Mysteries are top notch!

Last Saturday my three children and their two friends — ages 3 to 9 — participated in the ‘Case of the Mysterious Bones’.

The stations exceeded my expectations; they were scientific, age-approapriate, exciting and well-organized.  The children held bones, analyzed blood spatter, used forensic entomology to determine time of death, and compared the gaits, weights and x-rays of various animals. After completing the eight stations, detectives returned to the main tent to solve “The Case of the Mysterious Bones” and make their detective button using the button press.

Station 1: Bone Identification

Station 2: Blood Spatter Analysis

Are those fish bones in the blood? And look at those prints leaving the scene.

Station 3: Forensic Entomology This is CSI for kids!

The detectives compared the live sample with the life cycle of the beetle chart to determine the victim's time of death.

Station 4: Who Was Awake? Time of death was in the evening.

Station 5: Using x-rays to determine the type of fish. Getting closer...

Station 6: Weighing the animals to determine who could have carried the fish.

Station 7: Discovering the gait of each animal and comparing it to the mystery gait.

Who could this be? River otter or the mink? Case almost solved.

Station 8: Bite Marks

Case Solved! The RIver Otter did it!

I jus can’t say enough about Burnaby Park’s Critter Caper Mysteries. My six year old daughter keeps asking when will she get to solve the next mystery. What a great way to connect children to their natural environment and engage them in science.  Keep an eye out for these, you don’t want to miss out!  Click here for a previous post on Critter Capers.

Growing Up Urban the outside way,


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New Critter Capers Mystery, Case of the Mysterious Bones

On behalf of “Detective” Bren Simmers I’m copying an email that was sent to me. You’ll not want to miss this event!

Hi Detectives,

Critter Capers is back with another fun, free Halloween-themed mystery. Case of the Mysterious Bones will take place at Burnaby Lake Regional Park on Saturday October 20th, from 1 – 4 pm.

Here’s what happened: Sheila the Saw-whet Owl found strange bones in the forest. They looked nothing like the pellets she coughed up after dinner. Where did they come from and was she going to be eaten next? Are you daring enough to follow the blood trail, use forensic entomology, and examine bite marks to find out who the mysterious bones belong to and how they got there?

This free family event is ideal for detectives ages six and older. Meet at the Burnaby Lake Nature House at 4519 Piper Avenue off Winston Street. Allow 1 hour to walk the loop trail and solve the case. Complete the mystery before 4 pm and receive a reward.

Use this link to like us on Facebook to find out more about this and other upcoming events in Regional Parks.  Metro Vancouver Regional Parks on Facebook

If you know any other detectives who could help us with this case, please pass the details on.

Hope to see you Saturday October 20!

“Detective” Bren Simmers

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Berry Picking at Krause Farms

I never really understood why people would u-pick when you could buy your fruit at the market. I just figured I could do other things with my time. But last year my children loved huckleberry picking at our local park (click for blog post) so this summer I decided to take them to a u-pick farm. We choose Krause Berry Farms in Langley, BC. because at a recent dinner party friends brought Krause’s custard pie and this is possibly one of the best pies I’ve ever had! Visually it is stunning; you almost don’t want to cut into it.

I asked my kids what they liked about the farm. My youngest daughter liked the petting zoo which I think is a bit small for the $2.00 fee. My son liked the play area which has lots and lots of sand. Always a good thing in a play space.

Lots of buckets, shovels and sand.

Having fun with the cut outs of various vegetables.

My favourite was lunch. I had the pesto panini and farm fries. And the coffee was good too. My older daughter ordered the waffle and berries. The waffle bar is really cool. They have a whole section set up as a waffle eating area. And the waffle and the freshly picked blueberries, plus a generous serving of whipping cream and berry syrup, were scrumptious.

The blueberry waffle.

Interestingly, my husband’s favourite part was the berry picking. It was mine too but I had to mention the food! My intention was to show the kids where their food came from and for them to appreciate the work it took to harvest. In the end, the lesson was more for my husband and I. To pick the fullest, bluest blueberries takes patience, care and a lot of time. There were a lot of kids there and I was happy to see how engaged they were. But so were the adults. One woman picked a flat on her own. Personally I felt very connected to and excited about the food I was harvesting. So much that I am making jam. And that is saying something.

Picking blueberries.

We u-picked the blueberries.

If I am to conclude anything from our visit to the farm, it is that slowing down and actively harvesting (or planting) your food is important. It is a fast, busy world, but I’m going to try and take more time and more care with my family’s food. And to start, we’re having our neighbours over for the amazing custard berry pie.

The famous custard pie!

Growing up urban the outside way,


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Support KidSport New Westminster, BC

KidSport New Westminster is holding a used equipment sale to raise money to make sports more affordable to kids who need extra financial support. You can help in two ways: first, donate some sports equipment to the sale, and second, attend the sale and see if there is anything you might need. Click on the attachments (2 in a row) to view details of the sale.

KidSport used Equipment Sale Poster

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Summer Activity Guide

Summer holidays was all about riding my bike and going swimming at the local outdoor pool. I lived in a small farming community in southern Alberta and because there were no organized events, we made our own fun. But if you are between the ages of 0 and 12, and you live in or near New Westminster, you’re in luck because the New Westminster Early and Middle Childhood Development Committees have produced a Summer Activity Guide that will keep you busy all summer! The guide is packed with mostly free activities: events like magic shows, concerts, crafts, swims, loonie skates and invitations to attend featured parks and playgrounds.

Take the Summer Activity Challenge and enter to win prizes. To participate, check off 6 items and 3 signature events, showing you were active this summer. Submit your ballot to one of the community centres, library or Arenex by September 9th, 2012. Activity Guides can be picked up at community centres, the library, and even some churches.  If you are having trouble finding one check out

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Jane’s Walk Vancouver, B.C.

If you are a Jane Jacob’s fan or a fan of walking, this event is for you! Takes place May 5-6 in Vancouver. If you participate in this or something like it, send me your comments. To learn more:

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Environmental Stewardship: Removing Invasive Plants from Hume Park

The intergenerational Hume Park Invasive Plant Removal and Native Plant replanting scheduled for this Saturday April 28  is a great opportunity for youth and their families to protect their park and learn a little something about their local natural environment.

Protecting the environment and being socially responsible are prominent themes in schools today. But children and youth can’t learn to care about an environment they don’t understand. In a recent study, young people were able to identify 1000 corporate logos but fewer than 10 plants or animals native to their backyards! How can we expect students to care and protect something they can’t even name?

So here is a great opportunity for youth to meaningfully connect with their environment,  learn about native versus invasive plants and spend time outside with their family. Unfortunately I can not attend this event because ironically I’m in meetings all day at the British Columbia School Trustees Association’s AGM.

The details: Lower Hume Park, New Westminster, from 1-4 pm, rain or shine (where boots!), ages 13 + years.

If you’d like to attend, registration is necessary. Please call Call 604-519-1066

Growing Up Urban the outside way!

For a related read on this event go to The Tenth to the Fraser.

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