Kids embrace great outdoors at Fort Vancouver

Historic site draws families for range of free fresh-air activities

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 
photoSteven Lane/The Columbian Charlotte Frampton, 11, catches a trout from a fishing pond at the Get Outdoors Day event at the Fort Vancouver National Site on Saturday. The two fishing ponds were stocked with 800 trout.
photoTyler Miles, 5, of Vancouver shoots an arrow at the 2012 National Get Outdoors Day event at the Fort Vancouver National Site. This year's event is Saturday.

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Getting outdoors in the Pacific Northwest often means enduring rainy weather.

So the gray clouds threatening rain throughout the day Saturday -- and at times delivering sprinkles -- didn't deter families from visiting the Fort Vancouver National Site for National Get Outdoors Day.

"It's just a little rain," said Micah Just, 9, of Vancouver.

As tiny droplets fell, Micah slipped into a harness and helmet and scaled a rock wall, taking the toughest route to the top. His grandmother, Brenda Hunt, watched from the ground below, offering advice and encouragement as Micah climbed.

"We always like to try and find things on the weekend to do with the kids," Hunt said.

Saturday's free event featured more than 60 groups, including service organizations, conservation groups, businesses, local recreation groups and national parks agencies. The event gave kids a chance to experience fishing, hurling, rock climbing, disc golf and archery, among other activities. And the Audubon Society of Portland showed off some of its winged friends, including a 5-year-old turkey vulture.

Reneé Robinson of Portland brought her three kids to the historic site after hearing about Saturday's event from a co-worker. Robinson and her kids spend as much time outdoors as possible, including frequent bike rides, she said.

Saturday's event let the kids try some new things outdoors -- even if it was raining.

"We wanted to get out," she said. "It's going to rain regardless."

"It's a fun day for the kids, a family day," she added.

Across the field from the archery targets, dozens of young fishermen and women dropped their lines into fire tanks stocked with trout. Once they successfully snagged fish, volunteers dropped the still-flopping trout into small plastic bags.

Six-year-old Kayli Murphy's fish slipped out of her bag and landed in the grass. No matter. Kayli scooped the trout up and clenched it in her hands as she hustled over to the cleaning station.

A volunteer cleaned up the fish, placed it back in the bag and handed it back to Kayli. Beaming with pride, she showed her 4-year-old brother, Ayden, her catch.

"I got a fish," she said, smiling.

The trout was Kayli's first catch.

At the hurling station, Zachariah Taylor, 10, got a crash course in the Irish sport. He stood in the wet grass and practiced shoveling a ball into the air with a wood paddle.

Mom Shanah Taylor said the event gave Zachariah and his brother, Isaac, 7, something to do outside, away from video games.

Zachariah said he preferred the outdoors. "I'd rather get out here than sit on the couch playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," he said.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.