OUTDOOR LESSONS: A.P.P.L.E. adds kayaking to curriculum

Published 2:59 am Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Alabama 4-H and the A.P.P.L.E program team up four times a year to give children an opportunity to experience kayaking. The RiverKids 4-H kayaking trip is free to the children who go to A.P.P.L.E, and is offered from fourth to seventh grade. The kayaks belong to the A.P.P.L.E program.

Catherine Rider, the Covington County Extension Agent for 4-H, has been a part of the program from day one.

“We started this program last summer,” Rider said, “It was actually a state initiative, and Covington County was one of the pilot programs.”

Catrice Jackson, Brooklyn Ammons, Tanailah Johnson, Kyra Trahan and Zion Williams are shown cooling off in the water.

RiverKids was started to benefit children by offering them an outside experience they could potentially enjoy, and to educate them about the wildlife and vegetation.

“It’s about getting outside and enjoying the outdoors. Children today don’t usually willingly go outside,” Rider explained.

“The kids genuinely love this program,” Christine Lynn of the A.P.P.L.E. program said.

In preparation for the trip, the children are taught in a still pool how to paddle, and even get on-sight training on what to do if the kayak flips.

“Most children are first timers. Usually about halfway they get the hang of it,” Rider said.

Rider said trip routes are selected based on the ability of the children, their experiences in the past, and how young they are.

“We like to pick places where we know the current is helpful, not too slow or fast,” Rider said.

There are two summer trips, one fall trip, and one offered in spring. So far, the kids of A.P.P.L.E have been to Yellow River, Open Pond, and the Conecuh River out on Gantt. There are great factors that go into selecting a location, for instance, if the water is high and the current is too strong.

“Flooding has been an issue this year,” Rider said, “We’ve had to pick Open Pond for our last couple of trips.”

However, on Monday, the Conecuh’s water was finally low enough for the group of 12 children to safely kayak. The trip was a three-mile trip, and lasted about four hours.

“We hope that next year the weather will cooperate with our plans to include more kids,” Rider said.

She hopes to reach out beyond A.P.P.L.E, and include other children as well.