Events introduce youngsters to variety of outdoor activities

PRATT -- There was a time when Kansas kids took the outdoors for granted. Playing outside was second nature, even for kids who had to work outdoors on the farm. Most kids chased frogs, wandered creeks and rivers, and scared rabbits from fencerows. Values learned from these times -- responsibility, self-reliance, hard work, sharing, a healthy respect for the environment -- carried over into the lives they led.

Today, most families have exchanged the fields, creeks, and trees of their rural dwellings for concrete, roads, and buildings. Video games, television, and the internet keep kids under roofs in a sedentary lifestyle.

OKKids Day -- sponsored by Kansas Wildscape -- offers an alternative by giving kids across Kansas a day of fun and excitement in the state's parks, lakes, marshes, and trails. For many of youngsters, it is an introduction to the beauty and enjoyment of the outdoors. For others, it is a reawakening or reinforcing of their outdoor interests.

Kansas Wildscape's OKKids Program predicts record numbers of participants in 2005. Statewide, more than 50 sites will conduct events this year. All are free and offer a chance for participants to experience numerous outdoor games and events and receive free baseball caps and prizes provided by Bass Pro Shops.

The following is a list of OKKids event sites schedule for June:

  • June 4 -- Dillon Nature Center, Hutchinson; Glen Elder State Park; Miami County Sheriff's Office in Paola; Salina Park and Recreation; Turner Park and Recreation, Kansas City;
  • June 5 -- Lovewell State Park;
  • June 18 -- Bronson City Lake; Wilson State Park;
  • June 25 -- Gardner Park and Recreation; and
  • June 30 -- Lindsborg Parks and Recreation.

For more information on these events, phone 1-866-OKKIDSS, email wildscape@sunflower.com , or visit Kansas Wildscape's website .