O.K. KIDS DAYS CONNECT YOUTH WITH OUTDOORS
Kansas Wildscape, Wildlife and Parks events held statewide throughout summer
LAWRENCE — The Kansas Wildscape Foundation works closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) on a number of programs, but Outdoor Kansas for Kids (O.K. Kids) may do more than any other to help promote the department’s mission “to instill an understanding of our responsibilities to the land.” O.K. Kids gets youngsters outside and into nature in ways that can make a lasting impact on their lives.
Most kids no longer grow up in rural environments where knowledge of wildlife and the land are sewn into the fabric of their lives. That’s where O.K. Kids comes in. The program’s mission is “to provide multiple outdoor recreation opportunities for Kansas youth with adult partnering and mentoring to encourage outdoor recreational opportunities and promote and provide an active lifestyle as an alternative to sedentary activities.”
That’s good news for kids and conservation of the land. O.K. Kids covers the entire state of Kansas. Most events are held at the Kansas state parks, but other venues, such as city and county parks and recreation departments and private sites also hold O.K. Kids events. More than 50 sites host O.K. Kids events annually. Participation has steadily grown, with more than 13,000 Kansas youth and their parents or grandparents enjoying the outdoors at 46 different sites across Kansas in 2010. Events are free to all participants and open to all.
Through these events, youth learn about Kansas natural resources and wildlife primarily through games and activities. Staff at each site determine specific activities offered to participants based on local resources and perceived community interests and needs. Kansas Wildscape Foundation provides the operating manuals, event signage, free participant caps or T-shirts, gifts, and prizes, as well as overall organizational, promotional, and marketing support. Not all activities are nature-oriented, but all are outdoors in settings that expose youth to nature. Events include activities such as fishing derbies and clinics, wingshooting instruction, horseshoes, mini-triathlons, scavenger hunts, volleyball, sack races, archery, bird watching, birdhouse building, hiking, bike safety clinics, outdoor cooking contests, and much more.
The following is a list of 2011 O.K. Kids Day events throughout the state. For more information, phone 785-843-9453 or 1-866-655-4377, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit O.K. Kids at the Kansas Wildscape website, www.kansaswildscape.org. For those areas listed at state parks, go to the state park locations page on the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, to find phone numbers for each park. More events may be scheduled at a later date, so check these websites throughout the summer for updated information. (If the event has a sponsor, they are listed in parentheses after the event.)
- April 16 — First City TRYathlon for Kids (Leavenworth Parks and Recreation), 7 a.m.-10 a.m., Riverfront Community Center;
- April 20 — Cross Timbers State Park Earth Day (Toronto Reservoir) 9 a.m.-2 p.m.;
- April 23 — Cheney Lake Association O.K. Kids Day 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Cheney State Park;
- April 27 — Kids Conservation Roundup (Northwest Kansas Conservation and Environmental Alliance), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Colby;
- April 29 — Hillsdale Watershed Festival (Hillsdale Water Quality Project), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Hillsdale State Park or Spring Hill Civic Center (phone 913-783-4507); and
- April 30 — Ernie Miller Nature Center/Timber Ridge Adventure Center O.K. Kids Event (Olathe), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Timber Ridge Adventure Center in Olathe.
- May 1 — Kanza Days O.K. Kids Fishing Derby (Winfield Recreation Commission) 1 p.m.-3 p.m., Winfield City Park;
- May 7 — Meade State Park O.K. Kids Day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.;
- May 7 — Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Commission O.K. Kids Day, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Lakeside Park;
- May 14 — Fall River State Park Earth Day, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.;
- May 14 — Gardner Fishing Derby (Gardner Parks and Recreation Commission), 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Gardner Lake;
- May 14 — Lansing Fishing Derby (Lansing Parks and Recreation Commission), 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Kenneth W. Bernard Community Park.; and
- May 21 — Watson Park O.K. Kids Day (Wichita), 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
- June 3-4 — Sgt. Mills Jr. Fishing Derby (Arkansas City Recreation Commission), 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Veteran’s Lake;
- June 4 — Dillon Nature Center/Wal-Mart O.K. Kids Fishing Derby (Hutchinson), 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.;
- June 4 — Gardner Bike Rodeo (Gardner Parks and Recreation Commission), 1 p.m.-3 p.m., Gardner Edgerton High School Parking Lot;
- June 4 — Lakewood Fishing Derby (Salina Parks and Recreation Commission), 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Lakewood Park in Salina;
- June 4 — Prairie Dog State Park O.K. Kids Day, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Norton);
- June 4 — Turner Recreation Commission Fishing Derby, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in Pierson Park (Kansas City, rain date June 11);
- June 9-11 — Flint Hills Region Girl Scout O.K. Kids Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, Girl Scout Camp Double E (Emporia);
- June 11 — Cedar Bluff State Park Kids Outdoor Adventure, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.;
- June 18 — Rose Hill Recreation Commission O.K. Kids Day Fishing Event, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sienna Ranch Pond; and
- June 18 — Wilson State Park O.K. Kids Day, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Kids Fishing Pond.
- July 4 — Haysville Recreation Department O.K. Kids Fishing Derby, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Riggs Park Pond.
- August 13 — Clinton State Park O.K. Kids Day (Lawrence), 9-11 a.m.; and
- August 27 — Olathe Parks and Recreation Commission Aquafest, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Cedar Lake (Olathe).
- Nothing listed to date; check Wildscape website later in the summer.
- Oct. 1 — El Dorado State Park O.K. Kids Day 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; and
Oct. 8 — Shawnee County O.K. Kids Day On the Trail, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Shawnee North Community Park Shelter (Topeka).