By Martin J. Kidston
Combining summer fun and education, Montana State University Extension Service is showing kids across the Hi-Line a good time.
As he stood looking over the wafting canoes on Rotary Pond, Water Safety Officer for the regions Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department Dave Christianson explained the way 4-H youth camps from surrounding areas come together for a little outdoor recreation, fun and education.
Its a 4-H youth camp, Christianson said. We bring them up here and let them have some fun, and they get to know kids from other counties.
Joined by Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Shane Reno, the two instructors, coupled with teen counselors, helped the 4-H youngsters into their life jackets and canoes before shoving off on the choppy seas of Rotary Pond.
This is a water safety class, Reno said. We cover life jackets, canoe safety and a little bit about hypothermia.
As Reno watched from the shore, Christianson stood at the ponds outlet, trying to clear the bottleneck of canoes that were caught in the current. A quick shove and the boats were sailing across the depths of the deep blue pond.
The kids have a blast, Christianson said, his trousers rolled up to his knees. Most of the work is done by volunteer leaders.
Teen leaders like Zach Mandenville helped skipper canoes, while six-year-old sailors, such as Sarah Castle, learn to navigate the oars. But whether counselor or camper, fun is had by all.
I just try to watch over the kids, Mandenville said. I was a camper for a few years, too.
Christianson said the program separates the kids into groups. While his group is busy learning about water safety, another group is touring the Star Lab at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, and yet another group is doing craft activities and cooking projects.
As for the camp in Beaver Creek, it is the only overnight camp we have, Christianson said. We have a day camp later on, and we will have our fair activities as well.
Christianson said the Blaine County Fair will be held July 21-25.