If you haven’t experience the beauty that is Saint Edward State Park, add it to your summer bucket list. The 316-acre park, with lands spanning Kenmore and Kirkland, is not only breathtaking, but also chock-full of fun pockets to explore with kids. We love the biking and hiking trails and the amazing wooden playground (or perhaps I should say play-fortress).
When I heard the Saint Edward Environmental Learning Center was hosting a free “Wild Wednesday” adventure series, in the summer for parents and kids, it didn't take much arm-twisting for me to sign on. I knew that even if it was a total bust, the kids would still have a blast at the playground and riding their bikes at the park.
Thankfully, my kids were highly entertained by the program — the theme was “wilderness navigation and orienteering” — and I learned that they might actually be better navigators than me (which isn't really saying much).
Instructor Don Atkinson explained how maps work and passed out compasses and maps to the group. Sitting and listening to him explain orienteering was a little over the heads of my 2- and 3-year-old, but my 6-year-old was captivated. The class was divided into smaller groups of four or five people, who were each given a unique route within the park to navigate.
The kids had fun trying to orient their compasses and read the landmarks on their maps. A few times, we ended up off track, but I found that those moments of uncertainty were where the newly-learned-map-reading skills got the most use. The “treasures ”— as my kids referred to them —were unique orange markers hanging from different trees and landmarks. The younger kids who weren't quite old enough to read the map had fun being the “lookers” and would excitedly point out the “treasure” whenever we were close.
In the era of G.P.S., I am thankful that my son has now excitedly begun studying the old road maps he found tucked into the glove compartment of my car. As a parent, nothing delights me more than seeing his curiosity sparked. We will definitely be attending another class before summer ends. Upcoming adventure themes can be found on the SEELC website.
If you go ...
When: Every Wednesday through August; check the ParentMap calendar for times and themes.
Where: Saint Edward State Park, 14445 Juanita Dr N.E. in Kenmore. Classes meet at the kiosk west of the park office.
Parking: You will need a Discover Pass to be able to park at Saint Edwards Park. Passes can be purchased online (with a temporary printable pass if you purchase the same-day). The best deal is an annual pass for $33, which will get you into all state parks yearround. A one-day pass is $10. Passes allow you to park at all Washington Sate Parks.
Tips: Stock up on water and snacks, since exploring the park can make for hungry kids. Sunblock is also recommended. Bring your bikes and try out the bike trails after the class.