The Chapter held its third annual Teddy Bear Hunt on April 15th. If the smiles on the children’s faces and the enthusiasm of the parents and other family members are any measure, this is one of the chapter’s most rewarding and fun events.
Nearly two dozen young hunters and 30 family members took a hayride into the chapter’s park where they checked in and received their “hunting licenses”. The “hunting licenses” entitled each hunter to take two bears. After a safety briefing, the hunters, accompanied by their family members and chapter volunteers, explored the wooded areas of the park on the lookout for their bears. The bears, placed in clear plastic bags to protect them from the elements, were tied with ribbon to trees along walking paths.
After taking their limit of bears, the hunters and family members gathered at the park gazebo for a lunch of hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks. With cookies still in hand, the youngsters tried their luck at fishing in the pond or practicing at the archery range. Chapter volunteers acted as “fishing buddies” to teach the young anglers some of the basics. One of our own chapter volunteers, David Allmon managed to land an 8.5 pound bass while the youngsters were watching. Good timing David , that sure got the fishing interest going. Other volunteers went to the archery range to introduce archery techniques and safety practices to those who wanted to try their hand at archery. Fishing tackle and youth bows and arrows were made available by the chapter.
As the last hayride was loading up to leave the park, several of the young participants were heard objecting to leaving. One of the family members said they were surprised that their children, ages 7 and 4, weren’t ready to go home because they had been up since 6:30 that morning. They were excited to be here. Another parent remarked that, “being here today has been the most fun we’ve had with them in the outdoors in ages”. Several of the bears had already been given names.
This event has become a community event. The Suffolk City Fire Department provided emergency medical personnel at the park for safety considerations. The Parsons Company has supported the event all three years by donating the teddy bears. Reporters from the Suffolk News Herald and the Virginian Pilot newspapers also attended and published articles in their respective papers.
The chapter has other community-oriented events that members participate in throughout the year but this is the event designed especially for the under 12 crowd. The whole idea is to get them out in nature and into the woods. It’s a way to get the families together in the great outdoors. It was one Saturday morning that didn’t start on the couch with cartoons or a video game and no one seemed to miss them.