The great outdoors


Local nonprofit holds annual Youth Outdoor Day

WATSONVILLE — Kids of all ages visited the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday for the seventh annual Monterey Bay Youth Outdoor Day.

The free, two-day event aims to get young people interested in outdoor activities by partnering with a number of local organizations and businesses across the Monterey Bay Area.

Elyse Destout, organizer and coordinator of the nonprofit event, expressed joy at the diversity of people attending and volunteering.

“So many worlds collide here,” she said. “Hunters and fishermen, environmental groups and schools — they all have a common goal: to get kids active and healthy.”

The Watsonville Police Department, Cal Fire and other local agencies were on hand both days. Docents from Elkhorn Slough and representatives from A Nature Adventure Program in Corralitos were also present, educating both kids and their parents on the importance of experiencing the outdoors.

“There’s lots to look at here,” said 9-year-old Eli, who said his favorite activity so far was the bungee trampoline.

Everything from BMX demonstrations to fly fishing and archery lessons were offered throughout both days.

“My daughter is over there rock climbing for the first time,” said Keely Gates of Cal Fire. “Both my kids are having a blast today trying new things.”

According to Gates, Youth Outdoor Day is not just about physical activity but about education and career building as well.

“Kids can have a better understanding of how they can be active in their community,” she said. “They have the opportunity to ask questions.”

A big draw to the event is that it is free, and run by volunteers — each business, agency and organization spends weeks planning and building their booth or station. The only thing attendees are expected to pay for is the barbecue.

In the future, Destout envisions the event to be completely run by young people, with just supervision by adults.

“That is the goal,” she said. “We want kids to get involved, and to take charge. We want them to realize there is so much they can do.”

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