Monthly Archives: June 2014


This IS the best place for discounted educational products

Thrively has made another new friend – I know, I know, we’ve been so social lately!!! :)

I don’t normally headline in superlatives (but when I do, I actually do it quite often), but actually is the best place for discounted educational products. And no, we were not paid a dime to say that (honest).

By now, you’ve come across a flash sale site or two. Maybe you *had* to have that chevron maxi dress you saw in the right-hand column ad on Facebook (who clicks on those?! No, seriously, if you do, please tell me), or maybe you saw “shabby chic dresser sale” in your gmail and couldn’t resist. Whether a new egg timer or hot pink Jimmy Choo’s were on your list, either way you probably know what I’m talking about.

After a minute of investigating, I’m usually disappointed. Even if I get the motivation to make it past entering my email, I discover either the product I wanted is out-of-stock (or I can’t find it at all), will ship within “29 days”, or shipping is “a flat rate of only $14.99.”  Or, the worst faux pas of them all: a quick google search  and I find that exact same item is on sale for the same price everywhere else, which means goodbye flash site and hello Amazon prime! Haven’t seen you in a few… minutes.

Where these sites fail, Educents succeeds. They don’t require your email just to browse the sales (huge plus!). Their offerings are varied and are expanding daily (they’ve grown wildly in the past year). Shipping is totally reasonable, especially for multiple items (even coming from different sellers). They offer Edubucks for referrals and rewards on all purchases. Best of all, they have freebies and giveaways all the time.

Furthermore, you won’t have to filter through a bunch of Disney-themed salt and pepper shakers just to find what you need. All the items are valuable educational products, and each item is vetted by Educents before making it onto the site. Even better, they  have reviews, tips and free educational activities on their blog that can bring the whole family together.


From their website:

We believe learning is a gift that pushes us to explore, discover, and study our surroundings. It’s what makes us human, and what motivates us to tackle any challenge. It’s why we wake up excited and go to bed restless. It gives us a sense of wonder and a sense that anything is possible if we only learn how.

Learning is about people. Learning is about empowerment. Learning is about opportunities.

How great is that? Check out their 30 days of freebies here!


If you aren’t as stoked as these people, you’re doing something wrong

Team Thrively just made a new friend. is exactly what they sound like: super excited to bridge the opportunity gap that affects underserved youth. And they do it all through a trifecta of badass action sports: surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding.

And that is why I love them. Skiing was a staple sport for me growing up, but I know it’s a luxury to many others, and not even an option for many more than that. I am fortunate to have parents that value outdoor recreation and who made big compromises to make sure my brothers and I could have opportunities to participate in them.

Stoked picked action sports for a bunch of reasons (besides just being wicked fun). Action sports empower kids to overcome their fears, challenge themselves, set goals and push their limits to reach those goals. Unlike organized sports, there’s no winning or losing. There’s only pushing yourself to the max, and improving for yourself and your own sense of accomplishment.

According to Stoked, this does several things: It turns the resilience one needs to succeed in action sports into confidence, self-reliance into independence, and community into interpersonal skills. It teaches kids that there’s not just “you can do it” or “you can’t”, but that success directly correlates to your level of dedication. filterinfographic2

There’s nothing that can replace the feeling of anticipation while riding up the chairlift on a bluebird powder day in Colorado. There’s no feeling that can replicate the butterflies in my stomach when I stand at the top of a double-black diamond, planning my first five turns. And there’s no better satisfaction than my exhausted legs, dragging me down the final run and landing at the bar for a cold one ;)

I ski much less these days. Things get in the way – bum ankles, work schedules, the price of tickets these days! Etcetera, etcetera. But the lessons I’ve learned from skiing stay with me every day. At the end of the season, it gets a lot easier to hike out of the backcountry. On a cold day, take a few runs and you’ll warm right up. It’s the same in life – practice and persistence pay off.

It’s for these reasons that I know that Stoked will more than accomplish their mission with their mentees. At least when skiing or snowboarding – I can’t balance on a skateboard and I’m certainly not going to get eaten by a shark while surfing any time soon.

Take a look at what Stoked has done for Kevin in this video, and please check them out!


AdrienneThis post was written by Activity Adrienne.  She’s responsible for Thrively’s activity content. At one point in her life she really did want to be the next Picabo Street.  And the next Martina Hingis. And the next Kerri Strug. And the next Brandi Chastain. And the next… Ok, you get it.




The Power of Goofing-off

As a kid growing up in sunny California I had a lot of joyful experiences. The 1960’s, in comparison to now, was a relaxed era. Kids walked to school unescorted, rode our bikes without cumbersome helmets and played outdoors all day long with no one in authority really watching us. We were never doing anything bad but there is something organic about being with your tribe for hours and hours that help a child find his or herself.

Our moms talking to their friends in the kitchen on 50 foot phone cords were far away from ten year old boys and girls running down alleys picking ripen pomegranates and throwing them at each other until our shirts were stained red. Playing with others is critical for child development. And not just playing with siblings. Siblings are great but they are complicated since they come with history. There is something organically good that comes with playing with non-family kids especially kids of the opposite sex in an unstructured way.   At least it was in my case.

One day in the third grade my life changed. Red dots appeared on my stomach and a quick trip to the doctor confirmed that I had chicken pox. Because my parents were divorced and I lived with my working mother, I had to stay home by myself from school for a week. My mother would come by for lunch and my father left his work as well to see me at lunch. But for most of the day I was bored out of my ten year old mind. I watched TV unfortunately; the 1960’s only had a handful of channels and none of them good. My father feeling sorry for me brought me a whole bunch of Archie comics. I had not paid attention to comics before that week.  But desperate for entertainment I read all of them. In one afternoon I familiarized myself, with Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead.  Right away I decided I liked Jughead.  Then the next day my father brought more comics including Charlie Brown.  Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy.  I liked Snoopy.  I was obsessed with comics and for the rest of that year and the year that followed I would walk to our local liquor store and thumb through the comics for the latest additions.   My obsession got so strong that I pulled the comics out of their bindings and put th drawings up on my bedroom wall.   Other kids had The Monkees on their walls, I had Jughead and Archie.


Around this same time, Ronald, one of the boys in the neighborhood heard about my love of comics and he shared with me his own appreciation of comics.  He also showed me his most prized collection—a huge stack of Mad Magazines.   He pointed out his favorite sections, Spy versus Spy,  The Lighter Side,  Mad Fold Ins, Sergio Aragones’ Mad Marginals and of course, Alfred E. Neuman in the paradies.  That year I went to Ronald’s house all the time, we read together, we laughed, Ronald drew his own comics, I would offer my suggestions.  I even tried my own comics but I really did not have a good hand for drawing. I was more conceptual big thinker.  I would talk with him about how we should make our own parodies. I have no memory of seeing his mother although I know she was somewhere in the house.   We were only ten and too young for romance but we played for hours and hours completely unstructured time.

In that year something happened for me. I learned how to laugh, in a real way that made crazy divorced parents fade deep in the background.  I learned how it was okay to be funny.    When I reached middle school I joined the yearbook staff and as one of the editors I worked hard to slip in jokes where no one would find them except for a few of us on the ‘inside’.   It was my own Mad Marginal. In high school I continued to find the guys that made me laugh and we all cracked each other up.  I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends but I did have a lot of boy friends.  Years later when I was the first woman writer on The Tonight Show, I thought back on chicken pox, comic books and all that time playing with Ronald.   And now I think about that unstructured time where I could start to find myself.  At times I feel guilty when I am taking my son from his swim lesson to his Tae Kwon Do classes. I wonder if I give him enough ‘down time’. I had so much as a kid and cherished it. Do I give my son enough?  I try, that is for sure.   But one of the greatest gifts my son got was last year when he had a year of car pool with two girls.  He heard things in those car trips he never heard before, things that were not on his boy radar.

Now his relationship with the girls and other girls is amazing for me to watch.  What seeds are being planted? What relationship or choices will he make twenty years from now due in part to the year he learned to relax and hang out and find his place with the girls?  He is too young for romance but I have seen a switch turn on, a real appreciation of non-family members of the opposite sex.  He is interested in what they have to say and what they think about. He will be the first to shut them down if it is princess talk (he has his limits) but the other stuff, the way they connect. How they tick.  This is of interest to him. It reminds me of all those years ago when Ronald made me laugh about silly stuff in that vast unstructured time where we could just goof off.



TracyBorn and raised in the Los Angeles area, Tracy Cook (nee Abbott) graduated from University of California Santa Barbara with a BA in US History. After graduation, she moved back Los Angeles where she built a career in the entertainment business. The first woman writer on the Tonight Show (with Jay Leno), Tracy was also a writer on Late Show with David Letterman along with variety, award and reality shows. After the birth of her son, Tracy focused on raising him with her husband Charlie Cook. She also took every waking moment to improve his public elementary school by beating parents into an inch of their life until they volunteered on campus.

2014-06-11 11.11.18 am

School’s Out & Your Chance to Win!

Summertime is so close, we can taste it!  Some kids are already done, and others are totally checked out. Fantasies of ice cream and waterslides are occupying the minds of students. And nightmares of my kids saying “I’m boooorreeedd” two weeks in are occupying my mind. I already have a list of “boredom busters” at the ready, like this one.

Start your summer off in the right direction with a $50 gift card.  To enter to win, all you have to do is test out and give us some social media love.

And you should check us out anyway, because…

We are the country’s largest directory of kid’s activities. That’s right, we have everything in one place, from classes to camps and apps to internships. No matter what type of program or family activity you’re looking for, you can find it ALL at

We have a close knit group of parents that make up the Thrively community. Come join us and manage your family’s extracurriculars all in one place. You may discover something new!

Here’s to summer!

Our WINNER is Nathan M.!  Happy Father’s day Nathan!!!!

2014-06-11 11.11.18 am

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click to Tweet : Did you know? @Thrively is the country’s largest directory of kids activities with over 125,000 camps, classes and apps.


Loving the Child You Have


As parents, we want the best for our children. Encouraging our kids to be the best they can be while remaining true to themselves can be tricky. Sometimes, what we want for our children clashes with who they are. A highly educated parent who is a voracious reader might be completely confounded by a child who hates to read. An active person whose formative years were spent playing team sports might have difficulty accepting a child who prefers to draw and play indoors. The decision to become a parent is a leap of faith, and biology does have a tendency to interrupt our fantasies.

No child enters the world a tabula rasa. Each of us is born with our own personality traits, abilities, and quirks. In his book “Far From the Tree”, Andrew Solomon explores the meaning of parenting by focusing on families of various exceptional children. Solomon spent a decade interviewing families of children who are deaf, dwarves, autistic, and transgender. He spoke with families of children who were protégés, and parents of children who commit crimes.

Solomon’s interest in exploring how families adapt to children who are different from themselves is personal. As a gay male growing up with largely un-accepting, straight parents, Solomon endured a lonely struggle to change the unchangeable, participating in a type of reversion therapy that required him to engage in heterosexual intimacies with a “sexual surrogate.” He ultimately learned to accept himself as a gay man and found support in the LGBT community.

Solomon focuses on identity development and uses the terms vertical and horizontal identity to explore difference. Vertical identity refers to family traits that can be passed on from parent to child. Horizontal identity refers to the identity of a child who is very different from his parents. Solomon sites ethnicity, culture, and religion as examples of vertical identity traits. Horizontal identity would develop for deaf children of hearing parents, or disabled children of able-bodied parents.

In “Far From the Tree“, the parents who fared best, who were the most satisfied, were those who embraced their child’s difference, and altered their own identities in the process. Parents who became advocates for their kids by participating in a wider community found a deep meaning in their lives. Connecting with other families of children like theirs was empowering and gave them hope that life would be different than expected but joyful and full none the less. Some parents struggled to accept their children for who they were, expecting them to become someone they clearly weren’t.

The concept of horizontal and vertical identity is an extremely relative notion. The journey we experience as parents is determined by the intersection of difference between ourselves and our kids. In order to see our children for who they are, we have to let go of our ideas of who we want them to be.  We have to love the child we have and let go of the child we wish for. The wisdom is in knowing the difference, and in setting expectations that are realistic for our individual children and encouraging of who they are.


An image of Jamie Katz
lJamie Katz is a psychotherapist in Seattle specializing in the treatment of anxiety and trauma. An LA native, Jamie enjoys hiking, cooking and exploring the Northwest with her family. Jamie trains educators and healthcare professionals in the treatment of trans youth and provides supportive psychotherapy to gender nonconforming kids and their families.



Discover Your Child's Strengths

The three causes that young people care about most

When it comes to determining volunteering behavior, whether or not a young person’s friends volunteer regularly is nearly twice as important as having the ability to work on an issue s/he cares about deeply. That being said, there are regular trends regarding which causes young people care most about and what they are most interested in taking action on.

Based on’s data from over 2.5 million 13-25 year olds around the US, the top causes that young people care about are: bullying, health, and poverty. Sex/relationships, homelessness, and animal welfare were close runners up. It is important to note that bullying has emerged as a top cause only in the last two years—beating out long standing top causes, including homelessness and animal welfare. Despite its recent and fast rise in significance, bullying has gained a stronghold as a top cause among all types of young people.

The top causes that young people care about do vary somewhat by location and race. Animal welfare ranks particularly high among White young people, while poverty is considered a higher priority cause among Black and Hispanic young people. When considering location, young people in rural areas care more about hunger than do their suburban and urban counterparts. Suburban youth care about animal welfare, while urban youth prioritize homelessness as a cause. That being said, bullying remains the #1 cause that young people across the board care about.


These top causes were discovered through both formal surveying and implicit data collection from member actions. The combination helps reveal which causes young people actually take action on, compared with what causes they claim to care about. Differences can be seen on certain causes, such as “Our Troops,” which young people often say they care about yet are unlikely to follow through and take action on. Implicit data from members also shows which causes young people care about consistently, rather than at a specific moment. Disaster relief, for example, is a top cause if you ask young people in the near aftermath of a natural disaster; however, this does not receive a sustained level of interest. Bullying, health, and poverty, on the other hand, are consistently the most favored causes by 13-25 year olds in the US.

Regardless of the cause, young people like to feel that the actions they are taking have a substantial and lasting impact on a social issue. Young people want to be part of something bigger—part of a movement—so that they feel as if they can make a difference even if they are only able to spend one hour volunteering or share one thing on Facebook. Volunteer opportunities presented to young people should not only explain the benefit of the volunteer’s immediate work but also the larger impact of the campaign/movement/organization overall.

Although there are three key causes that young people migrate toward consistently,’s experience has shown that cause is not the most important factor in getting young people to take action. Therefore, when trying to provide young people with volunteer activities they will care about, it is important to think just as much about how young people want to volunteer as what cause they are volunteering for.



Lisa Boyd - PhotoLisa Boyd is a Strategist at TMI, a subsidiary agency of is the country’s largest organization for young people (13-25) and social change; TMI leverages the organization’s 20 years of experience to help for-profit and not-for-profit brands excel in the fields of young people, technology and social change. Lisa is an expert on how/why young people volunteer and how to engage the millennial generation effectively in social cause campaigns.


Beyond our bubble

I look forward to summers as an opportunity to summon my inner teacher.  My poor kids.  Their backpacks are no sooner purged than I announce new apps and workbooks for everyone.  ACT practice tests?  There’s an app for that.  It turns out there are five-week long summer sessions too.  Converting fractions to decimals to percentages?  I found an entire chapter dedicated to this lost art.  And there’s always the library reading program and science center if we get bored.

But something was missing.  Let’s just call it life experience.  It‘s the marvel that comes with discovery – exposure to people, places and things – that is not on the radar of kids that know only the bounds of their own bubble.  So with the help of some good travel sites and bankrolled airline miles, we were off on our adventure.

Our first stop was Lancaster, PA.  The kids could not have been less interested until I hinted that we might have a celebrity sighting of Amish Mafia.  No such luck, but we did see plenty of horse drawn carriages, rolling hillsides with strange looking haystacks and some fashionable beards.  We went to an Amish production called Jacob’s Choice that described how the Amish ended up in Lancaster.  It turns out a group of Anabaptists from Switzerland, who believed in adult baptism, fled Europe centuries ago to avoid religion persecution.  Who knew?  It turns out one of my scholars had actually studied the Anabaptist movement and was able to see 17th century religious practices preserved in time.  Score one for history.

Persuading kids to nerd-it-up in museums and tours on a lazy summer day requires a lot of persuasion.  Chocolate is a great bargaining chip.  Next on the agenda was Hershey, PA.  The Hershey Story museum offers a clever scavenger hunt.  The scavengers who discover how Milton Hershey sold his caramel company to invest in the future of chocolate, became an early adopter of assembly lines and donated his personal wealth to the care and education of orphans score a commemorative coin at the end of the hunt.  There’s also a trolley tour that passes the manufacturing sites and boarding schools supported by the M.S. Hershey Foundation.  Score two for entrepreneurship.

En route to Washington D.C. we detoured to Gettysburg.  Our timing couldn’t have been better.  We arrived on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Thousands were descending on the town to reenact Picket’s Charge, among many other battles.  One of my scholars surprised us all by naming the generals and battles accurately – unprompted.   Apparently Assassin’s Creed on Xbox does a respectable job of melding history with adrenalin-pumping action.  Score three for Mom learning that video games have some virtues.


Washington DC on the 4th of July is something I hope we all experience again.  We caught fireflies waiting for sunset then watched the fireworks in front of the Washington Monument.  Earlier that day we toured the Crime and Punishment museum.  It was an exciting line-up of gunslingers, mobsters, hackers and jail breakers.  The museum does a good job of glorifying the legendary crime busters and G-Men at the end of the tour.  Score four for criminology.

We ended with an appreciation for the hardships early Americans had to endure.  Our kids regard us as former underprivileged youths when we tell them that we grew up without the Internet.  The temperature and humidity climbed to the high 90s the day visited Colonial Williamsburg, a town preserved in the time of the American Revolution.  Watching blacksmiths shape hot metals, basket weavers strip saplings of their undimpled wood and bakers fire up ovens to feed the town all in the blazing heat was a better lesson in hardship than any teacher could describe in a classroom.  We learned how news traveled in taverns, coffee shops, at family dinner tables and in town squares.  We saw how passionate patriots fired up the public to take up arms.  Score five for antiquated social networks and modern air conditioning.

We flew home a little more cultured and happy to reengage with our bubble.  It’s not only a comfortable base but it turns out is also a great jumping off point for new adventures.  I’m not sure where our Summer of 2014 adventure will take us, except that it will be far from anything we regard as familiar or take for granted.  Any suggestions?



Amy von Kaenel is a highly enthusiastic Thrively Amabassador. She’s been a veteran of the tech industry for two decades, wearing dual hats in market intelligence andmarketing strategy. Amy’s co-authored industry reports on Smartphone Enterprise and mHealth technology. Her organization, Tech Coast Consulting, has served Global 2000 and start-up organizations in both the tech and healthcare industries. Amy holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of California Irvine.