A letter to my kids about sand crabs

Dear kids,

Remember when your 5th grade class went to the Marin Headlands for two nights? One of the things you did — besides pillow fights in the dorms, eat spaghetti, and play basketball on a court overlooking the Pacific Ocean — was a citizen science project on the beach. That’s fancy language for counting, measuring, and documenting sand crabs. You and your classmates had so much fun digging in the sand, jumping for joy when you found a big crab, and yelling loudly whenever you found a mama sand crab with eggs. Do you remember that?

Well, all that sand crab counting was supported in part by the California Coastal Conservancy’s Explore the Coast program. The funding from this program made it possible for the counselors at the Point Bonita YMCA to get training about the citizen science project, protocols, and materials. The funding was also used to buy the equipment, including that cool PVC pipe thing you used to dig up the sand and capture the sand crabs. Money makes these things possible.

A week after your time at the beach with the sand crabs, I found out that the State Assembly Budget Committee #3 was considering cutting the funding for this program.

I wasn’t happy about that.

So I did something about it. I wrote a letter and emails to the 5 members of the State Assembly Budget Committee #3. I created Facebook posts and Twitter tweets with pictures from our time with the sandcrabs. I put it all in a Google Drive folder for anyone to use. And I emailed your classmates’ parents asking them to email, mail, and post what I wrote. I emailed friends and colleagues who care about outdoor education just as much as I do. I posted to Facebook and Twitter, and asked others to do the same.

Guess what?

On May 23, 2017 in State Capitol room 437, they approved the funding! Yes, a full $226,000 was approved for the Explore the Coast grant program through the California Coastal Conservancy. It worked!

This means that more kids will get to experience what you did on that beach. More kids will spend time along the California coast, getting to know it and all of its glory. And wow, that is such a good feeling.

I love you,


The count is 3 and 2, and this still counts as being outside

This summer I took the kids camping. It’s our third year going to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and my love is deep for that place and this tradition. We go for a full week and we fully settle into nature, routines, and happiness.

Spend a little time in an established campground and you’ll see lots of ways of camping. There are huge RVs, ginormous tents, tiny tents, no tents at all. People bring fully cooked meals that just need to reheated and others eat hot dogs cooked over the fire. Some pack the campsite with brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, kids of all ages, and a neighbor just for fun. Others camp solo.

There isn’t one way of being outside, nor is there one way of camping. It’s just like parenting… every parent will do it his/her/their way.

One of the things that we did a lot on this camping trip was play baseball. We played baseball at least twice a day. Sometimes it was just a game of catch, other times there were bases and rules. But every day we played baseball.

It’s what my kids are into right now. It’s what gets them excited, it’s how their imaginations work (who says my 7 year old isn’t Buster Posey??). Sure, we could just stay home and play at the local park. But why when you can play amongst the redwoods and foggy beaches of Northern California? When you could use driftwood for a bat and a pinecone for a ball?

There are lots of ways of being outside. Playing baseball is how we did it this summer, and maybe we will again next year. Or maybe not.