By RENEE FITE
Kids love the freedom of riding bicycles, and they often don’t realize they’re getting valuable exercise.
Camp co-instructor Dana Boren-Boer, media studies and advertising instructor at NSU, loves to be active, and she has biked and hiked for years.
“When April [Quiett], my walking buddy, and I talked about camp ideas, we came up with hiking and biking because we enjoy it and thought it would be fun for the kids,” said Boren-Boer.
A different activity is planned for each day of camp. Monday morning, participants hiked along the Tahlequah History Trail.
Nyah Sanders, 11, came to camp for outdoor fun. She enjoyed taking a break from near a creek where she could get her hands in the water.
“On the history trail, I learned who Sequoyah was,” Nyah said.
Riding a borrowed bike from NSU took some getting used to, she said.
“It was fun trying new bikes and getting adjusted to a new bike,” Nyah said.
She also appreciated safety information she learned.
“I learned that you pass other riders on the left, not the right,” she said.
She’s looking forward to seeing “Despicable Me 2” and skating on Friday, part of the camp activities. She skates a lot and is going to try roller blades. And she had a good report about the food.
“The lunch is really good here,” she added.
In the afternoon, campers learned about bicycle safety from a NSU police officer.
“We had a bike safety instructional and set up an obstacle course in an empty parking lot near the Fitness Center,” Boren-Boer said. “That let us access the skill levels and abilities of the kids.”
NSU police officer Sgt. Jim Flores rode up to the Continuing Education office Tuesday morning on his bicycle to cruise with the campers. He reiterated what the campers had learned Monday from NSU officer Joe Roberts.
Roberts enjoys working with the youth.
“We did two hours of training; it’s a lot of fun to get involved with the community,” said Roberts.
Flores encourages the kids to always wear their helmets and make sure their bikes are in working order before they get on them.
“Check the brakes to be sure they’re working, see if the tires are inflated and if the reflectors are appropriate,” Flores said. “Always keep the rules of the road in mind. Hazards on the road can do serious damage. Keep safe.”
The campers were split into two teams, with each instructor taking a team and riding around the campus.
“I like the breeze blowing in my hair when I was biking,” said Paisley Passman, 11. “In the bike safety class, I learned new hand signals and how to be safe on the road.”
Tuesday, the campers took a big bike ride to the area around the Tahlequah High School, Boren-Boer said.
“We’ll let them ride around then take a water break by the fitness circuit by the high school,” she said.
After lunch, they hiked to the city swimming pool for part of the afternoon. A craft was planned for the time after swimming.
Bike rides in the park are what Aubrey Skinner, 9, enjoys.
“I like riding in the park across from my house,” she said.
The obstacle course was also fun.
“They designed it like a road and the police officer showed us how to be safe on the road biking,” Aubrey said.
She was looking forward to riding her own bike Tuesday, as she’d borrowed a NAB bike for Monday.
“My dad told me you never forget how to ride a bike,” she said.
A hiking trip at Sparrow Hawk is planned for Wednesday morning, followed by burgers for lunch and swimming in the afternoon.
“We want to show the students what a real hiking trail is like; it will challenge them,” Boren-Boer said. “It’s good that they’re active. Some of them are challenging themselves with a new sport.”
Noah Young, 11, admitted Tuesday morning that he’d probably still be asleep if he was at home, or playing video games. And he was looking forward to having more fun at the camp.
“We got to hike and bike and play fun games,” Noah said. “And I learned more about some of the old buildings downtown.”