Explore the Rock 2017 was met with enthusiasm and sunshine this past Thursday, when a record twenty-six students from the Kodiak community met for the first of the summer’s 10 outdoor adventures. Participants ranged in ages from 11-15 years. After a presentation on Bear Safety by Fish and Game Bear Biologist Nate Svoboda at the KANA Wellness Center, the group headed to Boy Scout Lake to hike and spend the afternoon at the beach.
Bear Safety is held at the beginning of every summer to familiarize kids new to Kodiak with the realities of living in a community where there is nearly one bear per square mile of land. Matt Kozak, Prevention Grants Coordinator, says that a large number of participants have transferred in with the Coast Guard and are not from the Kodiak area, “It’s an important lesson we try to bring back every year, especially with such a large group. One uneducated person can put everyone at risk.” Svoboda covered bear encounter prevention and what to do if a bear becomes hostile. Tips, like moving in groups and making noise, let bears know you are in the area; if a bear does attack, protect your vital areas, lie flat on the your stomach and cover your head and neck. Only one person has been killed by a bear on Kodiak in the past 75 years; Kozak notes however, the importance of stressing bear awareness as we come into spring and summer.
Kozak says the highlight of the day was the level of response. “We shattered last year’s record on the first day.” Last year, the biggest hike was halfway through the summer and hosted 21 kids; overall, 2016 had 39 unique participants. “Fifty to sixty percent of the kids are returning,” shared Kozak. “To have them willingly come back excited was really awesome.”