(SHAKAMAK STATE PARK) - About 500 youngsters and family members are expected to converge on Shakamak State Park near Jasonville on Saturday for the Seventh Annual Ray Howell's Kicking Bear One-On-One Mentoring program.
The Greene County Daily World reports that family and children aged 4 to 14 are invited to participate in this free hands-on learning event. Registration will be from 7 to 9 a.m
Lunch and dinner are provided.
Activities include: Kid's archery demonstration with bow and arrows provided, Linton Police Department will showcase its K-9 unit, the Brown County Raptors will have live bird demonstrations -- including a bald eagle, hawks, falcons and owls -- and there will be much more. International bowhunter Ray Howell will be there to provide some of the instruction and mentoring advice. In addition, professional bow shooter Brian Rusher, from Bloomfield, and Indiana Conservation Officer Mike Gregg, of rural Bloomfield, and several Indiana State Police Troopers will be special guest speakers at the day-long event.
Kicking Bear Ministry is a nationwide faith-based, non-denominational youth program. It was founded in 2000 by Howell as a 501(c)3 organization. The campouts, shoots and other events are a great way to introduce youth to the outdoors and to the sport of archery.
The program's mission is to help underprivileged and at-risk youth, or any youth, who wants to get into the outdoors.
Last year's event at Shakamak State Park drew 472, and Indiana Kicking Bear coordinator Mike Miller, of Linton, said he is hopeful a larger crowd will attend this year.
The first year drew about 35 participants, so it continues to grow. Miller said the goal of the event is simple, "Get the kids outside and give them an opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow. Put a bow in a kid's hand and get them in a mentoring situation.
"Many of the kids nowadays come from divorced homes and the parents can't spend time with them. This gets them (the kids) out and gets an opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow. It keeps them out of trouble and it gets them outside. With archery it doesn't matter if you're short, strong, fast or anything like that. There is a bow that can actually fit any person that wants to shoot. It gives them a chance to do something different in a controlled atmosphere with a bunch of professional archers," Miller explained. "We'll have private instructions and we'll show each kid how to shoot things out of the air. You'll have 30 targets out through the woods."
The activities are seen as vehicles for creating values, building skills, and solidifying peer and adult relationships, Miller noted.
Miller said the event draws a lot of repeat participants from year to year.
"A lot of the kids come every year and seem to look forward to it and it really seems to help more kids and more families," Miller said. "It's not just for the kids. We want the families to come out and share in the experience too and walk around with the kids."
Miller has been a frequent guest and host of a variety of hunting and archery television shows, he conducts clinics and teaching programs, and leads guided hunts. He said archery has impacted his personal life and he wants to share that with others.
"Archery has helped me become a better man and it's helped in a lot of situations. As a troubled kid, it kept me out of trouble. It got me going out and shooting bows by myself and gave me some self-confidence. Eventually, it took me all over the world, just shooting a bow. I've traveled the world and I'm still doing it. I want to give these kids the chance to do it too. At least, give them the opportunity if that is what they want to do," Miller explained.
Among the local sponsors who make this free event possible, according to Miller, are: Shakamak State Park, Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, McCallister Implement Co., James Arrnac, Greene County Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Custard's Hunting and Archery Supplies, Tulip Church of God, and Linton First Christian Church. For more information about this event contact Miller (812) 239- 3054, Brian Rusher (812) 381-1199, Josh McDaniel (812) 691-1582 or Shakamak State Park (812) 665-2158 and also visit www.kickingbear.org.
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