Timonium resident innovates Camp Meadowood [Lutherville-Timonium]

Meadowood Regional Park on Falls Road is always busy on a beautiful day and last week was no exception. While walking in the park, I noticed an adorable group of children listening attentively to their camp counselor, Katie Oliver. Ms. Oliver, a Timonium resident and former preschool and kindergarten teacher for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, has run Camp Meadowood for three summers.

A mother of four children, ranging in age from 10 to 18, Katie designed her camp for children ages 4 to 8. Her daughter, Libby, a sixth-grade student at Bryn Mawr School, along with another counselor, help Katie as they create fun and creative opportunities for the children in the park. Katie Oliver's enthusiasm for nature and the outdoors is evident; her campers enjoy nature walks, relay races, crafts and painting every day. Camp Meadowood is "a loving environment that fosters each child's uniqueness, creativity and personality" said Ms. Oliver. And she is proud to see her campers' smiles at the end of each day. Camp Meadowood runs one week per month during the summer.

Imagine my embarrassment as I sprinted uphill at the park to catch up with a group of incredibly fit mothers pushing their babies in strollers. I was curious to find out how these mothers knew each other as I overheard them discussing their weekends while stretching. How impressive that none of their babies were crying and they were so put together, not to mention in fantastic shape. I remember how difficult it was to just get dressed and pack a diaper bag, but these women had it all together. It turns out these women are part of a group, called Stroller Strides, a franchise that was brought to Baltimore in 2008 by Kate Blankenship.

The group meets at Meadowood six mornings a week, as well as other locations around the Baltimore County area. Kate's background as a certified personal trainer as well as a pre/post natal specialist is the perfect fit for her business and she strives to instill the concept of health and fitness into families at a very early age. Mothers with children ages 6 months through 6 years are welcome, and fitness classes are tailored to all levels from postpartum mothers to marathon runners. Various areas of the park are used as stations throughout the hour-long workout in order to keep the children entertained, and sometimes they even sing while working out just to make sure the kids are awake!  Stroller Strides goal is not only to provide a full body workout, but also to foster lifelong friendships at a critical time for mothers. Weekly playgroups and monthly Mom's Night Outs are also part of the program.  As Kate points out "happy moms make for happy families" and exercise is the perfect way to keep mothers happy.

Congratulation to Joseph P. Wantz III of Lutherville, who received his Ph.D in government and politics from the University of Maryland on May 23. He will be teaching at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City beginning this fall. Joe received his bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore County and his master's from the University of Maryland. 

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