AINSWORTH — With a splash, canoe paddles were carefully dipped into one side of the pond, while fishing bobbers floated silently on the other side during family fishing day at Marr Park on Saturday.
Sponsored by the Washington Optimist Club, the day was designed to bring families together and introduce kids to new activities. Jim Cluney, president of the club, said this was their first time trying an outdoor activity.
“We’re always looking for new ways to provide opportunities for youth,” he said. “I believe that if more adults don’t start doing more for the youth, there’ll come a time when they’re just kind of floating along and do whatever they want to do, and that’s not always healthy. We want to provide them good opportunities.”
The day began at 9 a.m. and by a quarter till 10, they only had about 10 kids so far, but Cluney said he was confident more would show up as long as the rain held off.
“I do think as it goes along here, we’ll get more in. I’m an optimist, I have to think like that,” he said with a laugh.
Stephanie Laverman, of Hills, brought her 5-year-old son, Will, down to Marr Park for the event. She said as a family they do a lot of outdoor activities like hiking but do not often have the opportunity to canoe and fish.
Laverman said she felt it was important to get kids like her son outside and involved in nature because the exposure can help them create a bond and positive memories. While the pair were on the water, Will happily dipped his paddle in the water and helped steer the canoe all across the pond.
Jim Blakeney provided the canoes for the day and said seeing families like the Lavermans out having fun together is why he wanted to volunteer in the first place. Canoeing is a big part of his life as his grandsons are fifth-generation canoers. What brings him the most joy about canoeing, he said, is watching kids get excited about the outdoors and trying something new.
“(I want them to) learn how to do something a little bit out of the ordinary, but mostly just get them outside,” he said.