High adventure for Fort Carson youths
June 23, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- “Ants taste like lemon drops,” said Azerial Flores as he tied himself to the climbing rope, pausing occasionally to watch ants crawl over his shoes.
“You don’t want to eat the fire ants and you don’t want to eat the big ants or the little ants … they don’t taste like anything and they’ll bite your tongue. Evan taught me that.”
Evan Howey, an Outdoor Recreation assistant and leader with Fort Carson’s Adventure Programs and Education’s Wilderness Adventure Camp, admitted he taught the children the do’s and don’ts of ant eating.
“I didn’t tell them to eat ants,” Howey said. “I ate one and they followed me.”
In addition to refining their palettes for insects, the children hiked, mountain biked, rock climbed, kayaked and went white-water rafting.
“It was so much fun,” said Varick Snyder, 13, who participated in the camp for the second year in a row.
“The camp is for all skill levels,” said Harmony McCoy, Outdoor Recreation assistant and youth camp leader. “It’s a great way to introduce kids to new, healthy activities and get them outdoors.”
Reanna Snyder, 10, said she was looking forward to kayaking the most, but also enjoyed rock climbing and white-water rafting.
“I like to play outside because it’s summer,” Reanna said.
At Solar Slab in Red Rock Canyon, Reanna and the rest of the children scaled several 40-foot routes and perfected their rock-climbing and belaying techniques.
“I’ll climb as many (routes) as I can,” Reanna said.
Within 24 hours of rock climbing, the children were on the Arkansas River paddling inflatable kayaks.
“This is awesome,” exclaimed Azerial as he aimed his kayak at the white caps, his kayak bobbing
up and down in the waves.
Kayaking proved to be a precursor for the next day’s activity: white-water rafting on an upper section of the Arkansas River in Bighorn Sheep Canyon where water levels ran 3,500 cubic feet per second, much higher than usual due to a 200 percent snow pack this past winter.
“Rafting was my favorite,” said Amber Grace, 13. “I definitely want to do that again.”
Although the majority of their time was spent learning about each sport and honing their techniques, the quieter moments spent skipping rocks, playing “Ninja” and asking “would you rather” questions proved equally fun.
“A lot of that stuff just happens. It’s all about what they want to do,” Howey said. “The camp helps build social skills. The first day they were timid and it was kind of awkward, but by the end of the week they were coming out of their shells.”
“We tailor (the program) to the kids,” McCoy said. “We do what they want to do.”