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It’s all about outdoor fun

Lead Summary

Overheard on the shooting range Saturday at the Chickasaw Pioneer Pheasants Forever’s annual Youth Outdoor Adventure Day.Daughter: Dad, I hit something.Dad: What?Daughter: I don’t know, but I hit something, I knocked it over.The smile on the young girl’s face at that very moment is why Pheasants Forever has been gathering kids together for nine years at the Fredericksburg Sportsmen’s Club.“That’s what makes all the work worth it,” said Toni Schwickerath, a chapter member who helps organize the annual event. “More than anything, we want them to have fun and find out there’s a whole lot of things you can do outside.”For more than six hours Saturday, dozens of volunteers, along with quite a few parents, shepherded 100 children to five different stations, where they did archery, took part in trapshooting and target shooting, canoed, learned how to start a fire (and bake some pretty dang good bread) and built “tiny treehouses,” otherwise known as birdhouses.The kids arrived empty-handed and for five bucks, left with one of those “tiny treehouses,”  a t-shirt and a day chock full of memories.“We really want to keep the costs down so the admission charge isn’t the reason kids can’t come,” Schwickerath said. “We try to break even, but this isn’t about making money. It’s about giving kids an experience.”All told, 100 kids, ages 8 to 18, attended the event, and those under ages 11 and under brought their parents along.Throw in the 40 or so volunteers who helped provided instruction, cooked meals and helped kids in and out of canoes, and the Sportsmen’s Club was jam packed Saturday.“This does not happen with volunteers,” Schwickerath said. “It’s not just the time, but the equipment they bring with them ... we just couldn’t do it without them.”And for some of the kids, Youth Outdoor Adventure Day has become a rite of the third Saturday in June.Three of those who attended this year’s event have never missed one.Why?“It’s just a fun thing to do,” said Cole Orthaus, who will be a sophomore at New Hampton High School this fall. “It was fun the first year I went, and I just kept coming back.” 

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