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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

AGFC Regional Educators, Crawford County Wildlife officer conduct Kids Kayaking event at Bluff Hole

A group of area youths had a splashing good time Thursday morning at Bluff Hole in Mulberry while attending an Arkansas Game and Fish sponsored educational event to learn about the sport of kayaking.

Nine youngsters were able to participate in the hour and forty-five minute seminar, which was conducted by a pair of Regional Educators with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and a Crawford County Wildlife Officer and included life jacket safety instructions, ball retrieval games to sharpen paddling skills and lessons on how to get back on the kayak if your boat turns over.

"We started out with just three of these scheduled, but we had to add two more events because of the popularity of the program and the waiting list," said Karen Westcamp-Johnson. the West Central Regional Educator based out of Janet Huckabee River Valley nature Center in Fort Smith. "We teach the kids the basics on how to negotiate the kayaks and throw in some water safety education."

West-Camp Johnson was joined at the event by- Jordan Bevil, Northwest Arkansas Regional Educator out of Springdale and Crawford County Wildlife Officer Kurt Van Matre at the popular Crawford County swimming hole. The classes are limited to ten participants so the Game and Fish employees can have some one-on-one time with each child while in the water.

"This Kid Kayak program is something new that we just started in our region," said Westcamp -Johnson,. "Other region have canoe and kayak programs, but the one for the kids is something we came up with to reach out and give some of the area youth a chance to be introduced to kayaking."

Westcamp-Johnson said the events are an extension of the educational programs and opportunities at the AGFC Nature Centers across the state.

"We loan out these kayaks and some canoes--for both kids and adults -- for use through the week on the lake at our nature center on Wells Lake Road," said Westcamp Johnson. "We have a lot of hands-on programs for the public and some great opportunities to learn about the outdoors."

The Janet Huckabee River Valley nature Center at 8300 Wells Lake Road is open Tuesday-Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and the grounds, with access to Lake Wells are always open. The JB and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center in Springdale maintains the same business hours.

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