I don’t know what it is about making your own food, but kids absolutely love it. When I was growing up, one of my favorite restaurants was the Melting Pot, in part because it gave my family and I the chance to make our own dinner, and then immediately enjoy it.
Cooking over an open fire rekindles that same experience for me, and it was something I wanted to share with my Little Sister. Being that we are within driving distance to the beach, Dockweiler Beach was the obvious choice for our first bonfire adventure.
In the past two years that we’ve been matched, my Little Sister and I have had bonfires at the beach twice. The first time was in 2015 at a meetup through another great local non-profit that I volunteered with, Reading to Kids. My Little had never had s’mores before, let alone been to a beach bonfire. She loved everything about this new experience- roasting marshmallows on a stick, squishing them between two sugary graham crackers, being on the beach, and staying warm from the wind by the fire. So when she asked me last summer if we could make s’mores on the beach again, it was a no-brainer!
One of our match objectives is to help improve my Little’s social skills. In the past, she’s struggled with making friends and having conversations with others. Knowing we had an awesome experience just the two of us, I shared our outing idea on the BBBSLA Bigs’ Facebook group to see if anyone would like to join. As long as I’ve been a Big, the Facebook group has been a helpful forum for Bigs to post their experiences, get advice from other Bigs, and learn about outing ideas. I got in touch with 3 Bigs who were also interested in having a bonfire with us and their Littles. We planned a date for a summer weekend, and I asked them to bring chairs, towels, roasting sticks, games, and any food and drinks they wanted to share.
My Little and I got to the beach a bit earlier than the others so we could reserve a fire pit and set up our belongings. I’d brought a fire-starting log, wood, and matches, but the wind proved to be a formidable challenge in striking up a fire. Luckily, another Big arrived soon after and helped me get our fire started.
We laid out our towels and snacks, and as the other matches arrived, I pulled out a game of Apples to Apples. Playing a game proved to be a fun and comfortable intro for the group to get to know each other, especially for the Littles, who tend to be a bit more shy than the adults.
After a few rounds of games, we sat around the fire to chat while roasting hot dogs and s’mores. We shared our experiences with BBBSLA, as well as what the kids were doing in school and their favorite things. It’s at outings like this where my Little can continue to make progress with having conversations with others and managing eye contact.
A beach fire pit is a great venue for not only Littles to meet other Littles, but also for fellow Bigs to connect. I look forward to making this a tradition with my Little Sister and other matches for years to come!
Dockweiler Beach in Play del Rey is the only LA beach that has fire pits. It’s recommended you arrive in the early afternoon to snag a pit, as they go fast. Note that the beach has rules for visitors to abide by, for safety reasons. Come prepared and be respectful of the environment to ensure we can keep this wonderful public beach an open area for all.
Have you ever planned a group outing with other matches? Let us know in the comments!