The Transylvania Times -

Rise & Shine Students Enjoy Outdoor Camp

 

August 16, 2018

Courtesy photo by Tricia Davis

Kelsey Morrow and Destiny Aria paddle a kayak in DuPont.

Rise & Shine Neighbors in Ministry is mostly known for its acclaimed after-school tutoring program focused on reading, writing and math.

In the future it also may be famous for instructing scholars about bikes, kayaks, Hiking and nature.

This summer, the ministry held what may be the first of many outdoor outings, the Rise & Shine Summer Camp at DuPont Recreational State Forest.

Though it came about as a way to use bikes recently donated to Rise & Shine by the Can'd Aid Foundation, the charitable arm of Oskar Blues Brewery, camp volunteers also took scholars Hiking and Kayaking, while rangers at DuPont taught them about nature.

"We wanted to not just expose them to Biking, but to expose them to the outdoors," said Matt Leach, a volunteer with the Pisgah Area Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association (SORBA), who helped coordinate the camp activities.

The idea for the camp started with Kimberly Jo Coram, a SORBA board member, and her husband, John Wiseman, a trail crew leader with the organization. After hearing about the donations, they became involved with Rise & Shine hoping to expand its non-academic programs.

After getting the go-ahead from the group's leaders for the camp in March, she said, they started planning the program. And when they put out a call for volunteers, she said, "we just got a tremendous amount of support."

The roughly 20 volunteers included riders from as far away as Hickory. The Brevard Police Department donated helmets for children who didn't have them. Two Brevard bike shops, Squatch Bikes & Brews and Sycamore Cycles, provided mechanics and other employees to help with the camp.

And when Coram and Wiseman had to return to their previous home in West Virginia shortly before the first session to attend to an elderly family member, Leach took over much of the coordination.

"He did a tremendous job," Coram said.

The first two days of the camp, July 10 and 11, offered classes to as many as 50 campers on subjects including bike safety, maintenance, handling, and trail etiquette, Leach said.

July 16 and 30 were "ride days," offering short bike rides, hikes, kayak outings and nature walks.

That the camp met its main goal, getting kids excited about the outdoors, was clear from the campers' reactions, Coram said.

"You can see in their eyes when they get the spark and I really saw it on the 16th," Coram said. "It was just great."

Coram, 55, knows from experience how such exposure can lead to a lifetime appreciation of the outdoors. As a "city girl" from Parkersburg, W.Va., she took a high school class that included two weeks in the field.

"It changed my whole orientation to the outdoors and about being kind to animals and plants," she said.

She and her husband have since sponsored similar programs, including outings conducted through a bike shop they owned in Parkersburg. This led to another benefit of the camp, teaching children about the opportunities in outdoor recreation.

After a stint in a kayak, "One child told me, 'I want to race these. I want to be a kayak racer.' I said, 'You know, you can go to the Olympics as a kayak racer ... you can get a bike-racing scholarship to Brevard College.'"

That is a particularly valuable lesson for the Rise & Shine scholars, all of whom come from economically dis-advantaged homes and most of whom are African-American. Coram, who now lives south of Brevard, said that her grandchildren are a diverse bunch, claiming Lebanese, Japanese and African-American heritages.

Courtesy photo by Su Slover

From left to right, Nichelle Staton, Hailey Boone, Jacorey Howell and Josue Alvarado enjoy a dip.

When she and Wiseman take them Kayaking or mountain Biking, she said, "We don't see many people of color and that's a shame. I know how much I enjoy learning from different cultures and experiences. I want more diversity."

Encouraging that was one purpose of the camp and will be for future events. These include, at least, an annual summer camp and, hopefully, regular outdoor trips through Rise & Shine.

Though the campers all live in Transylvania County, many of them had never been to DuPont, Leach said.

When they do go to such forests, "They don't see anybody but wealthy white people in the woods," said Leach, a retired Army officer who lives in Canton.

"I don't want them to feel they don't belong," he said. "This is their back yard and they have every right to play in it."

 
 

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