Margaret Rietano’s childhood was filled with the wonders of nature and the outdoors. She was most at home and herself in the woods, around horses or playing kick the can with neighbors as the sun slipped away each day. Her summers and college years always lured her outdoors to the fresh air - working on a family farm digging post holes, tending to vegetables and even milking cows! In her words, “these experiences impacted me on a cellular level.”
Margaret raised four children in Washington DC and used the surrounding woods as her own, exploring with friends and pets. Her daily routine bloomed into a business in 2007 when she started The Elements DC, dedicated to getting outside, active and grounded. She now runs seasonal after school programs for kids that give them unstructured time to play, build dams and stick forts and climb fallen trees. Children arrive grumpy on cold, dark, dreary afternoons, yet emerge after their time in the woods with renewed energy and a twinkle in their eyes.
Parents and caregivers began to see the benefits of the outdoors and begged for adult programming. Margaret now offers custom outings and regular hikes for adults. “We need nature and active, outdoor, grounding more now than ever before, and I love that I can help make that happen for busy people,” says Margaret. And research continues to show us that being outdoors and active can benefit us all.
She thrives watching kids and adults alike marvel at the incredible natural beauty in our midst. “I love leading a hike on a beautiful route and watching as the stress and ‘armor’ dissolve, listening as friendships form or ideas percolate and creativity flourishes,” she notes. She recounts one trip “happily picnicking during a torrential downpour. Luckily we were in a cozy sheltered spot and the endorphin rush from hiking combined with raindrops were like secret ingredients to my picnic spread. Hot soup, sharp cheese, fresh baguettes and good chocolate have never tasted so good as they did on that custom trip to the mountains of Virginia!”
Margaret has a true love for adventure. One of the highlights of guiding her adult groups is surprising them with a delicious snack, hot tea or a cold drink at the end of a hike. She loves describing the variety of Elements experiences from a birthday walk with friends, a wellness walk, a surprise picnic, a celebration with families, a book club walk & talk - limitless possibilities, and all in this amazing backdrop of our city and close by. She delights in designing an outdoor outing for any occasion and is energized by introducing her favorite “secret spots” during seasonal outings to anyone who will join her.
For now, Margaret is busy supporting requests for trail intel (especially for folks who are immune-compromised and need remote routes) and sharing inspiration and creative activities. As a solution to getting kids (of all ages) to some of her favorite local destinations, Margaret has created an Elements Treasure Trails & Hunt for local walks with proper social distancing. She is ready to plan your autumn custom Elements experience and has scheduled Seasonal Outings - donating a percentage of proceeds to local Covid-19 initiatives. She will be ready to safely guide you as soon as small group activities are permitted.