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Outdoor Campus provides outdoor fun at Lake Herman - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Outdoor Campus provides outdoor fun at Lake Herman

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Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2019 3:42 pm

Chester middle school students were learning about the outdoors on Wednesday when a field trip took them to Lake Herman State Park, where they engaged in archery, fishing, disc golf and hiking.

"These are real bows, real arrows," Jason Nelson, outreach coordinator with the Outdoor Campus, told the students as they reached to pick up bows.

Nelson was at Lake Herman with the Step Outside trailer, an educational resource that enables him to transport sporting and recreational equipment around the region to provide outdoor opportunities for people of all ages. On Wednesday, he had archery equipment.

On May 28, Madison Middle School students will head to the park for May Madness, where they will enjoy an even wider range of activities. Last year, in addition to archery, fishing and disc golf, middle school students tried kayaking, nature photography and shooting at targets with BB guns.

"If a school wants to do an outdoors experience with their students, we coordinate with the Outdoor Campus," District Park Manager John Bame said.

Nelson provided clear and simple instructions for the students who stepped up to try archery. He told them how to stand, how to hold the bow, how to notch the arrow and how to shoot.

"Start by shooting low," he said. "Your eye is higher than the arrow. They need to converge somewhere."

He also provided safety instructions, telling the students to lower the bow if he indicated the range was closed. He said archery is a popular sport among young people.

"They seem to love it. Some have grown up with it their whole lives and some have never touched it, but they all seem to love it," he said.

Chester students received guidance for fishing from their science teacher, Mike O'Connell.

"There's a lot of tackle being lost," he commented as he walked a group of students to the selected fishing site.

O'Connell had a simple reason for helping with the activity.

"I'm an outdoorsman. I want them to catch some fish and have a little excitement," he said.

However, he said he also uses fishing as a science lesson, teaching fish identification and other relevant lessons. As he provided instructions, some of his suggestions were difficult for the energetic young people to follow.

"Be patient; watch the bobber," said O'Connell.

However, students would cast and immediately reel in their lines, giving fish little chance to bite. Regardless of the success of an individual activity, organizers feel these types of activities are important for students because it gets them away from their screens and engaged in physical activity.

"The whole idea of these events is to give kids some experience with the outdoors," Nelson explained.

Approximately 80 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from Chester participated in the event.

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