WYOMING — Twelve-year-old Zachariah Parry never kayaked before in his life.
The Laflin teen changed that by participating in the Outdoor Adventure Camp at Frances Slocum State Park June 29.
The program exposes area teens to a variety of outdoor activities, such as kayaking, tomahawk throwing, archery and more, Frances Slocum State Park Environmental Educator Kathy Kelchner said.
Parry did not seem worried about his lack of experience as he climbed into a red kayak and listened to Kelchner’s rowing tips.
Once the kayak was launched, he began paddling and turned his boat around, joining nearly 16 other kids.
The Outdoor Adventure Camp developed nearly 20 years ago, Kelchner said.
“After age 11, kids are too old for my other camps,” Kelchner said. “I wanted to give the older kids something that would introduce them to outdoor activities and build social skills.”
Children between the ages of 12 and 15 arrived at 9 a.m. at the Patrick Solano Environmental Education Center.
“I cut off the age limit at 15 because, at age 16, they would need a state license to fish,” Kelchner said.
The day started with an hour-long morning kayak paddle before moving on to other activities.
After the children put on their life jackets, Kelchner gave a brief lesson on paddling a kayak before taking the teens over to a group of kayaks along the shore.
“We are going to try some turtle wrangling,” Kelchner told the group. “They are covered in duckweed, but we are going to see if we can get some of you to get one of our painted turtles on your paddle.”
Several adult volunteers, including included Kelchner’s husband Steve, launched their kayaks first.
Parry was not the only newbie to the water sport.
Logan Sakulich, 12, of Shavertown, and Carlee Reardon, 12 of Dallas, were also kayaking beginners.
Once they sat in their kayaks and were pushed into the lake, their apprehension seemed to fade away as they mastered paddling and their kayak swiftly propelled through the water.
The teens resembled ducklings as their red and yellow kayaks followed Kelchner along the shore around the lake.
Back on dry land, Parry said kayaking was easy and fun.
“I saw a lot of creatures; I saw a lot of algae,” he said.
However, Parry did not try turtle wrangling.
Paul Luke, 12, of Plains Township, did try to catch a turtle on his paddle but was unsuccessful.
“It dropped into the water before I could get to it,” Luke said.
The teens put away their life jackets and eyed up archery targets, which were set up behind the educational building.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.