Coon Rapids kids have fun and learn safety

From learning respect to remembering to wear a seat belt, incoming fourth- and fifth-graders in Coon Rapids had the opportunity to learn safety on the inside and out at Coon Rapids Safety Camp at Sand Creek Park July 24 and 25.

Several campers use the break time as a chance to compete in games and races at Coon Rapids Safety Camp. Photo by Bethany Kemming
Several campers use the break time as a chance to compete in games and races at Coon Rapids Safety Camp. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Around 100 campers met from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for two days to learn about bike safety, electrical safety, water safety, calling 911, bullying prevention and more.

Several sessions took a different approach than last year. This year National Yo-Yo Master Dazzling Dave Schulte taught bike safety while demonstrating yo-yo tricks.

Schulte said using yo-yos and riding a bike both require a complete awareness of the surroundings.

“You’re aware of your surroundings when riding your bike, you don’t go out at night,” he said.

Also new to camp this year was Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body (CLIMB) Theatre’s bullying prevention program.

According to Coon Rapids Fire Marshal Todd Williams, CLIMB’s skit brings bullying prevention to the forefront.

“They play out different examples of what to do in a situation… how to try and include others effectively and correct bullying behaviors,” he said.

Alexandra House also taught campers about the importance of good and safe relationships.

South Central Minnesota EMS Education Coordinator Mark Griffith taught campers about the importance of wearing a seat belt through several demonstrations with a machine that stimulates a vehicle rolling over. Each time the dummies strapped into the vehicle were not tossed about and thrown out of the vehicle like those without seat belts, he said.

“What I want you to take away from this is that they’re still in here… they should be able to walk away from this or at least stay alive,” Griffith said.

If emergencies should arise, Anoka County Dispatch Supervisor Todd Messer taught campers when they should and shouldn’t call 911. He helped campers define what an emergency is and discouraged them from calling unnecessarily or calling for fun.

“Do we play with 911? Is that a joke?” Messer asked campers.

Messer also stressed the importance of defining a meeting place for family members outside of the home in case of a fire. Messer has been a dispatcher for almost 16 years.

Campers also learned from Don Bania Jr., a quadriplegic artist who draws with his mouth. Bania was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 1970 when a drunk driver pulled directly in front of him.

Williams said Bania teaches children about the consequences that can follow from bad decisions and the importance of brain safety.

“It shows kids that if you do bad decisions it can affect you for the rest of your life,” Williams said.

The safety camp graduation ceremony took place at Coon Rapids High School July 25.

According to Williams, safety camp can truly instill the safety lessons that parents try to teach their children but don’t always go through.

“As parents you tell your kids 100 times but sometimes they just don’t listen,” he said.

Coon Rapids Safety Camp counselors came from the Coon Rapids fire and police departments, the Allina Health EMS and the U.S. Air Force Reserve 934th Airlift Wing. The price of the camp was $40 per child. Scholarships were available to allow children to attend safety camp at a reduced rate.

Williams said he hopes in the future the support from local sponsors will be enough that the fee per child can be lowered.

This year Coon Rapids Safety Camp received a $2,500 grant from the Mercy and Unity Hospital Foundation, a $2,500 grant from the Coon Rapids Cub Foods on Round Lake Boulevard and free juice, sunscreen and snacks from Walgreens in Blaine to help towards the cost.

Bethany Kemming is at [email protected]