COLD BROOK, N.Y. (WKTV) - The 5th graders from the Poland Central School District are the very first students to take part in the Black River Outdoor Education Program's new opportunity for school districts to introduce youngsters to kayaking.
Monday morning, about 30 kids from Poland Elementary School learned all about kayaking on land, then they got in one and enjoying learning some on-water lessons along the Black Creek in Cold Brook.
The Black River Outdoor Education Program or BROEP, based in Boonviille, puts on the program.
The not for profit agency has seven different campuses throughout Oneida County, but it serves kids in school districts in a seven county area here in Central New York.
The BROEP programs are entirely funded by the Butler Conservation Foundation which funds numerous outdoor programs across the country, so the good news here is that these types of educational programs are entirely free to school districts.
In the kayaking program, kids get to use all of the equipment they need to get in the Black Creek and have fun, including not only the kayak and paddles, but a warm jacket, rubber footwear and a life jacket.
BROEP Program Director Elaine Hage says the Butler Conservation Foundation started as the brainchild of a private family, "They started slow and it's just mushroomed."
Hage says with that funding, BROEP also offers other outdoor educational opportunities for kids in its other programs including cross country skiing, mountain biking, hiking and snowshoeing.
Monday morning it introduced kayaking as an option for local school districts, "Our staff, one leads, one follows, and it's all educationally based. It's in line with the Common Core, which is a big buzzword now in education. So I like to say it's education on the move and the outdoors is their classroom."
The Poland Central School District is right on the Black Creek, and Poland Elementary School Principal Christopher Clancy says as soon as he heard about this outdoor educational opportunity, he knew this outing was a perfect fit, "It's really what we're trying to do more and more now, because there's such a focus on curriculum and what we're trying to this year at Poland, is to try to integrate what we're doing in the classroom and out of the classroom, so this really was the perfect opportunity for that."
Hage says students need to be outside, "The advantages for them to be outdoors is not only good for their physical health, but for their mental, emotional and social well being."
She adds, it's not only important to get children involved in outdoor activities, but ultimately to get their parents involved as well. That's why BROEP may expand this new kayaking program to Saturdays, "Down the road, we'll engage families, so families can come. A child can bring a parent on a Saturday morning and we'll teach them, just like we teach the students today."
Hage says all BROEP staff are trained in first aid/CPR and are experienced kayakers.
The kayaking program takes place on a property along Black Creek Rd. in Cold Brook owned by Dick and Tina Hubalek.
The Hubaleks use the property as a summer camp and Tina Hubalek says when she heard the BROEP was looking for a place along the Black Creek, she and her husband glady volunteered their property which runs right along the Black Creek.
Dick Hubalek says this type of program is exactly what area school districts should be looking to get involved in, "It exposes them to outdoor life and it gives them a chance to get away from the electronic world, the texting, the gaming and all that kind of stuff. Get them outdoors, get them involved."
For more information on booking a trip for your school district, just call BROEP at (315) 942-2299.