Campers go one-on-one with nature at Kid vs. Wild

By Megan Nichole Broome
Marketing Intern

On the outskirts of Floyd County, just off of highway GA-100, winds a blue gravel road, that turns up a small hill, leading to the Floyd County Wildlife Club. Two vans marked Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation carry the campers, who cheer in excitement as they arrive. Springing from the vans, they fearlessly rush to experience nature head-on. Camp Kid vs. Wild has officially begun.

 Sponsored by Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and the Floyd County Wildlife Club, Kid vs. Wild encourages children to spend time outdoors and stay physically active.

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Campers stay active by playing on the playground.

Founder of Kid vs. Wild, Tammy Bryant explained that it teaches kids to appreciate the different kinds of wildlife nature offers. These days, kids spend too much time inside with their faces glued to their tablets and video games.
During Kid vs. Wild, campers are not allowed to have any sort of technology like cell phones or gaming devices, Bryant added.

“We send them home tired,” said Jimmy Allred, Deputy Sheriff, a co-founder of Kid vs. Wild.

Beginning with a nature walk and providing activities such as fishing, wildlife identification and swimming, the camp educates kids about wildlife and inspires them to form a close bond with the outdoors.

 Deputy Sheriff Mike Williams said this is his first year as a camp instructor. Teaching youngsters how to fish, the kids learn how to identify each fish they catch.

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(right) Mike Williams, Deputy Sheriff, teaches camper Macy Gallenzoski, age 11, how to fish.

For camper Gabe Blackburn, age 10, fishing for trout and bass is his favorite part of camp. He said he always throws the fish back after he catches it.

Evan Roden, a 20-year-old camp counselor, also shows the campers how to fish and explained that he became a counselor at Kid vs. Wild because nothing beats being in the outdoors with the kids.

 It’s no surprise that after six years of Kid vs. Wild, registration fills extremely fast with only 20 spots available.

 Activities such as 3-D archery and BB guns are exciting events for the campers as well.

 Sam Galysh, a 10-year-old camper, said his favorite part of camp is to “shoot BB guns because they fire fast and you can aim and shoot.”

 Jimmy Allred explained that six DNR officers come to Kid vs. Wild to supervise the archery and BB gun ranges, as well as teach the safety precautions imperative to the sports.

 Safety is a number one priority at Kid vs. Wild. Different methods of emergency preparedness are explored throughout the camp week.

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With great attention, campers watch as they are taught important fishing skills.

Special guest Chris Snyder, Deputy Warrant Division and Organizer of the SWAT Program at the camp, explains to the kids what the Floyd County SWAT team does and shows them the equipment used.

Fascinated, campers have the exciting opportunity to try on the SWAT team’s tactile vest and gas mask.

Snyder also goes over different SWAT training exercises in order to give campers a hands-on experience of what it is like to be a SWAT member.

 With the Floyd County Wildlife Club being 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital, teaching the campers about outdoor safety and having a nurse or medic on duty at all times is vitally important.

 Renee Blackburn, RN, has worked with Kid vs. Wild all six years and described the importance of teaching emergency preparedness to the campers.

 “Emergency preparedness is important at any age. When you are self-sufficient you can turn around and help other people,” Blackburn said.

 In addition, Blackburn emphasized to kids how to utilize basic supplies within their homes to help in an emergency situation until the fire department, police or ambulance arrives.

 They take this information home and share it with their families, Blackburn continued. Education is something that can easily be shared with others.

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(from left) Campers Jackson Taylor, Thomas Patterson and Benton Potts eat lunch outside.

 Sharing and working together are very important concepts to Tammy Bryant, who praised the fantastic partnership between Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, and the Floyd County Wildlife Club.

 “It is so important for community agencies to get together and partner with each other in order to provide the best service for our community,” Bryant explained. If you partner together, you develop a better program and service, she added.

 As the day approaches 4:30 p.m., campers load back into the two Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation vans and head back home after an exhausting and fun-filled day of playing outdoors. With their new-found knowledge of all that wildlife offers, they can begin to appreciate the importance of staying physically active and experience the benefits of fresh air and sunshine provided by nature.

 There’s one more opportunity to enroll your child in Kid vs. Wild. The second week of Kids vs. Wild is July 18-22. Camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for ages 8-12, and costs $125. Register for the camp online at rfpra.com.

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