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Build Strong Family Bonds While Giving Back to Trails

Posted by Rachel Wendling at May 09, 2017 02:00 PM |

On a recent rainy weekend, a group of WTA volunteers ranging in age from 9 to 60+ came together for a common goal: to give back to trails. We wanted to know what inspired them to spend a cold and wet Saturday digging in the dirt.

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Chris Williams, Hayden Williams, and Robin Seiler appreciate the connections they make while volunteering as a family. Photo by Emma Cassidy.

By Krista Dooley

On a recent rainy weekend, a group of WTA volunteers ranging in age from 9 to 60+ came together for a common goal: to give back to trails. We wanted to know what inspired them to spend a cold and wet Saturday digging in the dirt.

“It is some of the best family time that we have, because you are actually doing something together instead of telling (the kids) what to do,” says Robin Seiler. “My kids are almost teenagers, so there are moments of friction, but when you are doing something together and they feel that independence and see the impact of their work, I think it makes a big diff erence.”

Her husband, Chris Williams, agrees. “I’ve found that my sons have a better appreciation for trails and what it takes to maintain them. Also, giving back to the community is very rewarding, and I think they pick up on that. It takes a team to keep things beautiful. (Volunteering) builds family bonds and social connections with your kids. It’s a great way to build a strong family by doing these things together.”

Their 11-year-old son, Hayden, has his own motivations to volunteer. “First the candy, but also it just feels good to be out here and know a lot of people work on these trails with us and hike on these trails, so we are helping them.”

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Getting muddy at a Youth and Families work party at Soaring Eagle Regional Park. Photo by Emma Cassidy.

Micki Kedzierski, a WTA assistant crew leader, has been volunteering since 2007. She has worked alongside a lot of families, including her three teenage grandchildren.

“It’s really fun to see families working together and (parents teaching) their kids about nature. Kids ask a lot of questions. With those sorts of things you can help them understand how important it is to not only enjoy nature but work in nature,” Micki says.

About working with her own grandchildren she says, “I think it helps them see that you can stay healthy and young in a lot of ways, even when you are aging. That’s really important, especially when they see that their grandmother is
out here pitching dirt and carrying rocks.”

The Jukes family was volunteering with WTA for the fi rst time. They were very familiar with the water issues on the trail, however, as the work party was at their local park.

“How nice it was to see the puddles that we had been walking through yesterday get drained,” says Shana Jukes. “It’s kind of cool to see the puddles go away because of our work.”

Shana’s daughter, Cassie, 9, says the best part of volunteering was “finding a salamander in the dirt. I didn’t know salamanders lived in this forest.”

Cassie offered a bit of advice to others who might volunteer with their families. “Expect that it’s hard work, but if you believe in yourself, you can make it happen. And if you come five times you get a helmet with your name on it!”

If you’d like to try out a work party with your family, check out our current volunteer schedule.

This article originally appeared in the May+June 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

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