by ADAM GRUENEWALD
With the backdrop of clear blue skies, young campers took their time to learn archery terms, identify their dominant eye and work on proper shooting stances before letting their arrows fly.
While a majority of the arrows missed, or even fell short, of their target, campers enjoyed their first-time experiences, just as they had the other activities at Baylor Regional Park this past week.
More than 60 third– through sixth–graders took part in canoeing, geocaching, fire building and survival skills, atlatl throwing, disc golf and archery.
The camp was put on by Norwood Young America Community Education and Carver County Extension Office, with assistance for the first year from Carver County Parks.
As the main instructor for archery, Carver County Parks Department Parks and Trails Supervisor Sam Pertz explained to campers the importance of taking good care of the equipment and never dry-shoot (shoot without an arrow).
“These ones are made out of aluminum and if they crack, you can’t repair them, they’re broken,” he said. “They are worth a lot of money and we want other kids to be able to use them.”
Pertz also helped campers learn important terms, like the knot that connects the arrow to the bow, the shaft or long skinny part of the arrow, the rubbery and colorful fletchings at the end of the arrows, and as J.P. Paumen, 8, identified the point or tip of the arrow
“Of course it’s not sharp, but it’s sharp enough to definitely is a weapon,” said Pertz. “We’re going to teach you guys how to use this safely and then give you the priviledge of shooting. You don’t have to do this and if you don’t use our stuff correctly and safely, we’re going to re-evaluate and make sure you know what to do.”
Once campers learned about the parts of the bow and arrow, they learned how to use the indicator fletching to load the arrow to the bow.
“The odd one, the indicator fletching, when you load your bow needs to be facing up towards your forehead or up towards the sky,” said Pertz. “You’re going to grab your bows and you’re going to put in on your hip like it’s a lunch tray at school, you’re going to look for that indicator fletching and click it in. Now your bow is loaded and the only place you should be pointing your archery equipment is toward the target at all times.”
Campers then took turns identifying their dominant eye to figure out their stance before taking turns to release arrows at targets, many of who were shooting for the first time.
In addition to learning archery on Thursday, trios of campers managed their way out on Eagle Lake in canoes, learning the basics.
Programmer Mark Laustuen was impressed with how the kids conquered their fears on the water
“It was good,” he said. “Some of the kids have never done it before so we had them a little scared. But trying to talk them down of the ledge and tell them to sit still, sit still and don’t move. They came back and said they just loved it.”
Laustuen said learning those life-long skills and getting outside will help the kids as well.
“They learn a lot of team-building with the canoeing,” he said. “Everybody needs to learn how to be on the same side or different sides.”Carver County 4-H Program Coordinator Allie Lyman said giving campers new experiences is what the program is all about.
“The kids have really, really enjoyed it because it’s super hands-on and it’s a lot of stuff they haven’t done before,” she said. “So they’re learning a ton and having fun.”
Lyman added the all-inclusive camp brought in a variety of campers, letting them experience the joys of the park system.
“The great thing is they’re all from Carver County and we’re utilizing the parks that are a wonderful resource for everyone to use in the community,” said Lyman.
Among the other volunteers were Recreational Program Assistant Alex Phearman, Aquatic INvasive Species Coordinator Chelsey Jernberg and 4-H summer intern Casey Boerner.
“We have recreational programs throughout the summer,” said Phearman, highlighting the parent/child geocaching event at Lake Waconia Regional Park on July 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. “It kind of gives kids a taste of it and a lot of them really enjoy it so they’ll go back and bring back the whole family.”
Phil Hendrycks, environmental coordinator with District 108 and has worked with the camp since its infancy 12 years ago, said while it has expanded to include more activities, the basic benefits remain the same.
“A big part of it is that they are making new connections with kids, building friendships or reconnecting with friends from their school year. What’s great about it is we bring a lot of different communities together.”
Hendrycks said working with Carver County and U of M Extension gave them the opportunity to bring in different activities tying with Native American history.
“The theme this year is different cultures and bringing that piece into it and learning,” he said. “That’s a fun piece to it too. They’re getting education but they don’t see it like that but they see it as getting to have fun and enjoying their time here.”
Boosted by Carver County Parks, Hendrycks said the camp added a lot of activities focused on younger kids.
“Our camp is always a success but I’ve heard more positives from families than I ever have and that’s in large part to Carver County Parks service and the Extension Office,” said Hendrcyks. “It’s been so fun this year. It’s great that kids can enjoy the weather.”
Hendrycks said they may add a camp for middle school students next year.
“There’s not a lot of summer activities for them in this area so trying to get those youth groups more involved,” he said. “We’re hopefully going to have that happen next summer.”
For more information on upcoming events and Carver County Parks, visit www.co.carver.mn.us/parks.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.