Kids’ Almanac (August 8-15)

Kingston Point c. 1900 (Ulster County Historical Society)

Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the Earth.
– William Faulkner


What’s in my beach bag?

“Before heading out to the beach with my dude crew, I make sure my bag has some key ingredients,” begins Melissa Surprise of Surprise Photography: “a large MonkeyFoot wet bag from Waddle N Swaddle, Badger Sunscreen, a waterproof case for my iPhone for snapping some pics, plenty of water and Honest Kids fruit juice, snacks and lastly sand toys. Boys love to dig!”

What are the essentials that other area parents pack in their family beach bags? Ruth Quinn, mother of three adventurous kids, keeps “a beach bag ready to go at all times. During the summer, we never know if we are going to the beach, a lake, the Town Pool or a friend’s pool – so it is important to be prepared. We have two bottles of sunscreen because with three children, I don’t want to run out. Tons of goggles. A large bag of pretzels. A small pouch with a credit card and about $10. A small first aid kit. A water bottle that is dedicated to this bag that gets filled with ice each time we grab our bag. Comic books. A blanket. Four towels.”

Tim Sutton of Woodstock Day School and Ratboy, Jr. and his wife Cat agree that the bag itself matters: “I think the most important thing is something to carry all your stuff. This is very personal to the individual. It may even take several tries to find the perfect thing. I remember trying to carry everything in one shot. Sometimes I would carry Elliott in one arm and a ton of stuff in the other. I believe in evolution, so why don’t I have at least two extra hands?

“Anyways, we finally figured it out. We have the perfect combination: Cat carries Elliott in a Beco carrier, freeing up both arms to carry some stuff. For me…the Holy Grail is a backpack beach chair. This thing is the bomb! It has a huge pocket in the back where we can put all the toys, sunscreens, books et cetera. Since you wear it on your back, your hands are free. We then take turns sitting in the chair, while the other chases, swims, plays and retrieves buckets of water for our little man.”

The Suttons’ beach bag includes another essential: the sun shelter: “This thing is amazing. I never really liked sitting on the beach all day…too hot. But with this shelter we can hang in the shade and then the sun and back and forth. It’s also great for nursing, napping and changing.” They’re fans of the Badger sunblock, too: “This stuff is best! Sometimes it feels like you’re smearing your kid with Play-Dough, but you only have to apply it once…twice at the max.”

How about some tunes during the car ride to the beach? Sutton says, “When we drive to the beach we like to get down in the car! It’s a very eclectic mix. Let me tell what was on our Spotify playlist for our last trip to the beach. Here are some bands we listened to: Ratboy, Jr., Dog on Fleas, Caspar Baby Pants, Will.I.Am, Teegan and Sara, Major Lazer, Renee and Jeremy, Lana Del Rey, Of Monsters and Men, Daft Punk, James Taylor and, when the little dude falls asleep, This American Life.”

Liz Burdick, teacher at Lenape Elementary School, agrees with music as one of the essentials: “Whatever is on [son] Eamon’s current playlist. My favorite is Beirut.” Burdick’s bag includes reading material, too: “I like audiobooks in the summer. I just listened to The Great Gatsby, and then went on to The Old Man and the Sea.”

Former lifeguard and current mother Jennifer DuBois Bruntil passes along this simple advice: “Water and sunscreen. Water is obvious because it’s so easy to become dehydrated while sitting in the sun for hours. People don’t realize how much water they are losing to sweat because it’s evaporating right off. By the time you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” And she is another fan of Badger: “On the sunscreen note…To be honest, I have never been someone who slathers on the sunscreen. I often am more afraid of what’s in the sunscreen than the sun itself. I now use Badger brand because it’s all-natural, no carcinogens. But I have seen kids at the pool get some serious sunburns, and I have had some serious burns in my early years at the pool when it was cool to be tan. A bad sunburn does damage to the skin that last for years. It’s no fun at all. Your best bet is to find some shade, to make your own shade and to put sunscreen on yourself, especially hitting the spots that get the most sun, like shoulders and face. Putting on a wide-brimmed hat is a good idea for anyone who’s going to be out in the sun for awhile.”

Bruntil also emphasizes snacks: “Did I say snacks? Okay, maybe that’s the Mom in me. I find that snacks can get me through the toughest times with a 2- and 5-year-old!”

Jodi Friedman’s list covers the basics: “I am a Minimalist when it comes to the pool: towel, goggles, non-perishable snack.”

Jenn Sullivan, owner of Waddle N Swaddle has three favorite essentials, including the crowd-favorite sunscreen: “Badger SPF, because it’s organic, free trade, made in the USA and you know it’s safe for your kids. MonkeyFoot Designs wet bags for snacks, wet bathing suits and dirty clothes, which means you don’t have wet towels and suits all over the place. You can ditch the Ziplocs, they are super-cute and they are made in the USA. And Tickety Bu Hooded Towels, which are hand-dyed and sewn locally: a chance to buy and support a local business, and they can be used as a cape on the beach.”

Family Friendly Hudson Valley founder Sarah Coppola shares, “My must-haves for great beach excursions are a nice collection of sand toys, my camera, big comfy beach towels, a picnic lunch and some spare cash for a cold treat in case the happy opportunity presents itself.” I asked what sand toys get the most love: “I’d say they honestly favor their simple buckets most, for their multiple purposes: filling, pouring, collecting beach finds, molding castles and anything else their imaginations drum up.”

Imaginations are part of Samantha Sloane Cole’s list, too, founder of Free Families Forward: “Beach excursion must-haves are: Coast Guard-approved life preservers for the kids, safe sunscreen (check the Environmental Working Group website), water, towels, picnic of whole foods and all our imaginations!”


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  1. Flying Beach Chairs —
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