Kids Almanac: Minnewaska’s Babes in the Woods, raptors, teen screenwriting & Red Hook reading fest

Photo of Red-tailed Hawk by Dion Ogust.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

– John Muir


I wish that every parent with a baby had a chance to participate in Minnewaska State Park’s weekly “Babes in the Woods” hikes. This program was one of my first opportunities to go on a guided local hike, and I was grateful for the chance to familiarize myself with some of the trails. I didn’t know anyone when I started attending. But just walking in the woods seemed calming to my baby, whether in a jogging stroller or, more likely, my baby carrier. I felt so free, knowing that my baby’s unpredictable meltdowns and diaper blowouts somehow felt less traumatic out in Minnewaska’s majesty. My body loved the exercise and the stress relief. I was actually able to have sustained conversations with other parents along the meandering carriage roads, and many of us have stayed connected even today.

These days, when I walk these pathways with my now-ambulatory children, it brings back lots of memories. And I still get my money’s worth out of the wonderful Empire Passport sticker that I buy each year. Do you have one? You can buy it online or right at the entrance of Minnewaska (or any state park). It enables entry by the carload to New York State Parks, including Pine Hill Beach, Lake Taghkanic, even Robert Moses Beach in Long Island for my day-trip ocean getaways.


“Babes in the Woods” meets the first and third Tuesday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The next hike takes place on Tuesday, April 17 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Meet up at the Wildmere Parking Area kiosk. Older siblings are welcome. Bring water, a blanket and a snack to hang out afterwards. Registration is required. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-0752.


Cheap stuff for kids at consignment sales in Fishkill April 12 to 15

My kids’ interests in toys and games are constantly evolving, and they outgrow their wardrobe every year. How do I keep up with their clothing and gear while staying within a budget? I buy quality kids’ consignment! You can score some deals and put your recycling ideals into action at the “Be Green Kids’ Consignment Sale” in Fishkill. A presale for new and first-time parents begins on April 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. (must preregister). Public sales run April 13 from noon to 8 p.m.; April 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and everything is half-price on April 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (early birds can bring a diaper or wipes donation to get in at 9 a.m.).

Some of our all-time favorite toys (collapsible playhouse, snowcone-maker, an epic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles van) have come from this type of large-scale consignment event. There is such variety, and you never know what you’re going to find. This event is ideal for families shopping for infants through about age 10.

The “Be Green Kids’ Consignment Sale” is located at 793 Route 52 in Fishkill. For more information including sales hours, call (516) 672-2614 or visit


This Friday is Kids’ Sports Night at SUNY-New Paltz gym

SUNY-New Paltz offers fun opportunities for families. My kids love the cool cereal machines at the (cheap!) Sunday brunch in Hasbrouck Dining Hall, riding their scooters around campus, feeding the ducks (stop at the local New Paltz Freihofer’s outlet on North Putt Corners Road on your way over and ask for animal bread, dirt-cheap!) and celebrating Halloween at the annual Community Trick-or-Treat. We also get terrific babysitters through the college’s off-campus employment page.

On Friday, April 13 the SUNY-New Paltz Department of Athletics, Wellness & Recreation invites children from kindergarten through fifth grade to Kids’ Sports Night. Registration is free and takes place from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Activities run from 6 to 8 p.m. and include kickball, Capture the Flag, relay races and more, all with the college’s student/athletes. The event takes place in the Athletics & Wellness Center on campus. SUNY-New Paltz is located at 1 Hawk Drive in New Paltz. For more information on Kids’ Sports Night, contact Jamie Seward at (845) 257-3923 or


Teen screenwriting workshop in New Paltz

I learned about a fantastic opportunity for aspiring teen screenwriters, and I would love your help in spreading the word about it. The Elting Library in New Paltz is hosting a “Screenplay Writing Workshop for Teens” led by Los Angeles writer/musician Chris Zerby. Zerby explains, “I started working with teens several years ago here in Los Angeles through a program called ‘Spoken Interludes,’ which is actually based in New York. Published authors go into high schools and teach eight-week courses on fiction-writing, in which the students complete a short story and get to read some of it in front of an audience at the school. As a writer, it’s incredibly inspiring to guide the kids through the creative process, as well as helping them think critically about classic fiction from Poe, Salinger et cetera. Living in Los Angeles, it was inevitable that I would try my hand at screenwriting, and it seemed very natural to construct a course for that as well, on my own.”

Participants will learn screenplay basics, develop their own screenplays, assemble their own cast and musicians and rehearse their scenes with Robert Miller, founder of the Mohonk Mountain Stage Company. The class will finish with a Readers’ Theatre version of their scenes before an audience of family and friends.

I asked Zerby what advice he had for budding screenwriters: “Treat each scene like a mini-movie; it should have conflict, plot movement and something should change. Watch as many movies, of whatever genre, that you can, and pay attention to the structure of the plot when you do. Every scene and every character in your screenplay should have a purpose or should be cut. If you can’t explain the basic premise of your movie in a sentence or two, something is not right.”

The “Screenplay Writing Workshop” runs Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, April 15 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Saturday, April 28 from noon to 4 p.m., with a performance that night. Participants can bring a piece that they are already working on, or they can start something new. Since screenplay-writers often work with partners, students are encouraged to bring a friend. This workshop is free and open to all teens. Registration is required. The Elting Library is located at 93 Main Street in New Paltz. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-5030 or stop by the Library.

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