JACKSON, Wyo. — Addie Robertson has had a busy summer.
The 8-year-old Wilson Elementary School student has been hiking, writing journals, taking photos, making sculptures and learning about fire ecology, all through summer programs.
By participating in these day camps, Addie can tick off items on a list for a new program called Teton 10.
The program is a collaboration among 37 valley organizations to get young people outside and active, connected to their community and confident in outdoor activities.
“It’s a bucket list for kids,” said Josh Kleyman, Teton Science Schools’ Teton 10 coordinator.
Teton 10 is a way for organizations that encourage kids to be outside to be under one umbrella, he said.
The number, Kleyman said, stands for the top 10 experiences children and teens should have in the valley: adrenaline, water, art, creatures, culture, fire, night, peaks, service and trails.
Kids can get these experiences through a host of activities sponsored by valley organizations. They get to choose their own adventures. Different summer programs count for multiple experiences.
For example, kids who participate in a Horse Warriors’ Power Ponies program get points for experiencing adrenaline, art and creatures. Those not so keen on horses can opt to head into the mountains with the Jackson Hole Middle School Climbing Club to get credit for adrenaline, trails and peaks. The list goes on.
“We want to provide quality activities,” U.S. Forest Service liaison David Cernicek said. “We want organizations that are doing amazing things.”
Once kids track and log all their ac tivities on the Teton 10 website, they are eligible for prizes like T-shirts and water bottles.
“It’s not about doing it for the rewards, though,” Cernicek said. “The science shows getting outside does amazing things for kids.”
By being outside, children and teens gain self-confidence, among other things.
Like “the belief that they can accomplish things,” he said. “The ability to take on a challenge that may be intimidating to them, the belief that barriers that they thought were there before may not exist.”
The Forest Service’s Children’s Forest program was the main idea behind Teton 10, Cernicek said. Children’s Forest is part of a nationwide effort to provide opportunities for girls and boys to engage in the outdoors, he said.
“We’ve already lost an entire generation to Game Boys and other video equipment,” Cernicek said. “The main part of the effort is to make the outdoors relevant to children.”
Addie likes art and the outdoors, so she chose to do programs with the Art Association and Teton Science Schools.
“I just like to be outside with the fresh breeze,” she said. When she grows up she wants to “be an artist and take care of lots of animals.”
On Wednesday, Addie went bird banding with a Teton Science Schools camp called “H2Art.” That five-day program counted for art, water and peaks on the Teton 10 bucket list.
A dozen third- and fourth-grade students from the valley and beyond tramped around the schools’ Kelly Campus. They were following the schools’ research technicians while they caught birds and banded them for research purposes.
The tiny metal bands, coded with numbers, are like “a Social Security number,” educator Joanna Woodruff said.
The kids watched the researchers carefully take birds out of mesh nets placed around the campus. They put them in cloth bags and took them back to the base for the banding.
“We never want to rush it, because we don’t want to injure their legs,” researcher Allie Byrd said while wielding pliers to put a band on a particularly squawky downy woodpecker.
Byrd checked the bird’s feathers and blew on its belly, parting its feathers enough to discern gender, all while recording notes in a log.
The students then got to take turns releasing newly banded birds: the woodpecker, a yellow warbler and a few white-crowned sparrows.
“It was cool,” said Divanny Quiroz, of Victor, Idaho, who has been to five camps this summer. The 8-year-old said he likes camps because “we get to play.”
Earlier in the week, the kids hiked up a burned area to learn about fire ecology and then made drawings with charcoal. They also got to play in the Snake River, said Julianna Pizzato, 9, a of Rock Springs.
“It’s fun, and you get to learn about nature,” she said. “You get a lot of things e out of it, and it’s active and stuff.”
Teton 10 also wants to help at-risk and underserved youths get outside, Cernicek said.
Money should not be a barrier for children who want to participate, he said.
Organizations within Teton 10 and the collaboration itself have been finding o funding and scholarship money for underserved populations to participate.
“We have a great chance to change kids’ lives,” Cernicek said.
The nonprofit Jackson Hole Kayak Club takes kids of different ages out several times a week.
“With the Snake River running through the valley it’s such a great resource,” said the club’s executive director Brent Tyc. “We want as many valley youth as possible to participate in that resource.”
On Wednesday, high school members of the club kayaked the Greys River, a new experience for them. Kayaking is full of adrenaline, the club members said.
“It’s kayaking,” 13-year-old Reed Hutton said. “Anything can happen.”
Brooke Terkovich, 15, said, “It’s a good way to make bonds with people, too, because you trust them with your lives.”
As a member of Teton 10, the club helps children and teens experience all that Jackson Hole has to offer, Tyc said.
“The reason so many people live here is for the amazing outdoor opportunities,” he said. “It makes sense to have those opportunities available to kids.”
Teton 10 will go on all year long.
“We’re hoping it will be a household name and something that involves 100 percent of kids, whether they’re here for a few hours, a week, a year or a childhood,” Cernicek said.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com