We did it again, this time with a challenge…

By Alisha Pye, Los Angeles Outdoor Afro Leader
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So we went hiking above the Mountain Gate Country Club again, but this time we decided to mix it up a bit. So we decided to go off the fire trail and hike the hills. This was a great hike although we had fewer people we had a very diverse group, ranging from a mom wearing her 6 month baby, to a 9 year old cross country runner.20130303-194553.jpg
This hike was particularly challenging for me because I’m very afraid of heights and cliffs, both of which we encountered. I would love to post pictures of the cliff but I was nearly paralyzed with fear. So here’s to embracing fear and moving forward! Because of the challenge that I experienced, I think I enjoyed the hike more.
Overall, we hiked 11.3 miles, every time I even thought about complaining about the distance I looked up and saw this mom wearing her baby, a 9 year old and a grandmother or two chugging along. The diversity in this group was motivating to say the least. We didn’t get a chance to stop and take a group picture, but we had a great time. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather amazing and the scenery was breathtaking.

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Breaking the Color Barrier and the National Parks

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I simply cannot wait until the Breaking the Color Barrier conference next month where I’ll have the privilege of sharing the importance of social media to transmit the “outdoor” message to wider audiences than ever before!
As an example of this, check out the interview below with tireless conference organizer and champion of the National Parks, Audrey Peterman. I hear registrations are selling briskly. Buy your package now so you and your organization are included in this groundbreaking event!

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Young Woman Relaxing Outdoors --- Image by © Sandra Seckinger/zefa/Corbis

5 Easy Outdoor Stress Relievers

Life is sometimes stressful. And taking time out for yourself to rejuvenate is sometims not easy. If you’re like me, responsible for the care of loved ones (I have three such loved ones), or have an intense work schedule, the notion of taking a rejuvenating break can seem as likely as finding a $100 bill on a Manhattan sidewalk. But getting a break is a lot more likely and easier than you think!
There is solace in simple activities done right outside your front door. While you may be limited by where you live, or what is accessible or safe, I’m certain there is at least one thing out of the following list of 5 Easy Outdoor Stress Relievers for everyone.

1. Go for a 10 minute stroll around your neighborhood and say hello to everyone you see
2. Stargaze while holding hands with someone you love
3. Add or care for a plant on your balcony, window box, or in your yard
4. Have a breakfast picnic at home; take the prepared meal outside and eat on a blanket; perhaps invite a neighbor or friend to join you
5. Get outside with the kids to play games like Duck/Duck/Goose, Red light/Green light or teach them games and songs from your childhood — for more fun, play these games with other adults!

What are some simple ways you relax in the outdoors?
Photo courtesy of Sandra Seckinger

How did an Oakland girl like me come to love getting her camp on anyway? Pt. 3


After getting married and starting a family of my own, camping took on a new meaning. For just a short drive and little money, I found camping was one of the most economical ways my new family could take a vacation. During these years I collected essential camping gear, like our first family-sized tent and propane stove from local garage sales and eBay — my family still uses these items today.
But as my family grew, so did the effort of camping. Thus the city of Oakland’s Feather River family camp, situated about two- hundred miles north, became a very attractive option for us. For about $75 per day back then, our family could camp at their beautiful developed site where: three delicious meals a day were prepared (and announced with the toll of a bell), a kind nurse dispensed an endless supply of band-aids, platform tents and cots were already set up, and a refreshingly cool swimming hole was observed by attentive lifeguards. Another bonus of family camp, were the many fun, organized activities and special relationships we developed with the other Oakland families we joined each summer.
Now my children (ages 12, 7, and 6) love the outdoors and every February they begin humming camp songs around the house and double check with me to make sure we are registered for the upcoming summer season!
Aside from our annual Family Camp, we also venture out on local hikes or family bike rides at least monthly. My eldest son is a Boy Scout and he is now developing outdoor skills and going on camping trips with his peers just as I did at his age. I recognize that the fun my kids have now in the natural world is the foundation for a love and engagement with nature that lasts a lifetime and is likely to be shared with their own children.
I still do enjoy tent camping sometimes, but I find that as I approach the big Four-O, I more frequently choose to balance comfort with my outdoor fun — nights of sleeping on just a tarp under the stars have passed me by. I now fantasize often about a future of creeping along the highways in a well-equipped RV, enjoying each state of the Americas, one campground at a time.
Catch-up!: Part 1, Part 2