20th Youth Safari Day to be held July 21 at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises
By JIM MATTHEWS
Last summer, I wrote a story about my experiences with kids while running a quail call making booth at the Youth Safari Day in Prado Basin. The story came out in local newspapers the day after the event was held, and I fielded dozens phone calls and e-mails in the following days from people wanting to know why I hadn’t written about it in advance.
Apparently, it seemed like a fun event. They all knew some kids who would benefit from a day without cell phones and computer games, and a day where they were exposed to outdoor activities that were common when people my age were kids (and since I turn 65 this year, that was a long time ago).
So this is your advance notice. This year’s Youth Safari Day will be Saturday, July 21, at Mike Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises in Corona. The facility sits at the upper end of Prado Basin, and has duck ponds and wetland habitat adjacent to the shooting ranges. As with most years, the kids will be able to go on nature walks, fish for catfish and bluegill in the ponds, learn a little about kayaking (tipping them over and getting wet is a likely part of the process), mingle with farm animals in a petting zoo, see hawks and falcons up close, and participate in a litany of other activities.
The early registration price is $15 per kid, and you can also order lunch in advance. All the details and on-line registration is available at youthsafariday.com.
The year’s event is the 20th Anniversary of the activity, and I realized that my sons probably went to the first several, the youngest attending until he was in his teenage years dragging along middle school and then high school friends until I had to tell him he was getting a little too old to go as a participant. That was the year he graduated from high school.
The kids just have a blast, even the grumpy ones who are brought along reluctantly find themselves smiling and laughing and enjoying themselves. Many of the kids have never had an opportunity to do things that I took for granted as a kid – shooting BBs guns or slingshots, drawing their first bow, casting their first bobber into a pond teeming with fish about to bite. The older kids might shoot their first shotgun or learn how to use binoculars and the names of birds on the duck ponds. They can hug their first goat or pet their first sheep. They can splash each other while paddling their first kayak, or take a crack at the rock climbing wall.
Organized and hosted by the Safari Club’s Orange County Chapter, they keep adding new activities for the kids each year. They also ask families who regularly take their kids along on outdoor activities to reach out to friends and family whose children might not get an opportunity to experience the outdoors.
It’s sort of a retro activities day for kids, but these are things my generation took for granted. We all made our own slingshots and carried around BB guns all summer. We kept lizards we caught in vacant fields in aquariums and fed them beetles and ants and sometimes moths we’d nab in porch lights. We also had to let them go when school started again, but it was fun.
I have suggested to my SCI friends other activities for Youth Safari Day, thinking back to my rollicking, fun youth. One year I suggested we should have a fenced-in area where we check in kids, give them weak-springed BB guns, with 50 shots and goggles and let them chase each other around and shoot each other until they are out of ammo. That suggestion was met with glares.
What? That’s what we did as kids (one of my neighbor’s Dad’s gave up on us minding his “no BB-gun fights” order, and simply insisted we all wear his shop goggles, which we gladly did, thinking they were really cool. Although one of my neighbor’s little brothers put on the welding mask and promptly ran into an olive tree at full speed knocking another dozen points off his IQ, something he could scarcely afford to lose.)
I have suggested we get a truck load of dirt clods and drive old cars back in forth in front of the kids and let them pelt the cars with dirt clods, building up their throwing arms. Maybe bailing out of the cars and chasing the kids screaming through the show. You know, to make it authentic. Again, nothing but glaring.
This year I suggested water balloon fights. It’s usually over 100 out there and they would dry out in minutes, what could possibly be wrong with that? An emphatic and unanimous, “No!”
When I suggested marbles, they were all old enough to remember playing games of marbles. I could see their minds working. They remember thumb-flicking their favorite round, glass marble at other marbles scattered in a circle drawn in the dirt. Do you remember the one’s called cateyes and purees? Playing games for funzees or keepzees? They were thinking.
I’ll be at Youth Safari Day again this year, teaching the kids how to make rubber band quail calls (and only teaching a few of the younger ones to shoot their older siblings with rubber bands launched off their finger).
And in my defense, I had written about this event in advance last year, but it was a short note that many of you must have missed.
Youth Expo, call it Safari Day
Lite, set for June 30 in Compton
A new event called the Youth Expo has been started by the Compton Hunting and Fishing Club, and it will be held Saturday, June 30, at the club (1625 Sportsman Dr., Compton). I have been calling it Youth Safari Day Lite. While this event has a more limited slate of activities and is really designed mostly for pre-teen kids, it also is a great opportunity to expose urban kids to some of these activities.
They will have a BB gun range, a petting zoo, archery, a casting pond, face painting, coloring for the young kids, and more. They will also be running two sessions from 9 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 4 p.m., and the event is free.
For more information and to sign up, go to www.CHFCFoundation.org.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 909-887-3444.