On Friday, June 7th, 2024 at Bibb County Lake, six kids met together to join in on the fun at the first 4-H RiverKids event. Facilitated by Alabama Extension folks Simon Carbone and Sherry Carter, the kids were able to get out on the water, enjoy the sunshine, and make new friends in an experience that was full of fun while being educational as well.  

To start off the day, Sherry Carter led the kids in making bags of their very own trail mix that they could take out on the water with them. The importance of proper nutrition while out in the sun during physical activity cannot be understated, and Sherry showed them how making your own trail mix can be easier than you think. Even just searching your cabinets, you can usually find a tasty combination to throw in a bag, give it a mix (and maybe season with some cinnamon, paprika, or both!), and you are good to go with a healthy snack. Including items like nuts, cheerios, pretzels, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, raisins, and even chocolate chips for your sweet tooth, she encouraged the kids to get creative with whatever they could find in their cabinets at home.  

Once hitting the water (after putting on life vests and hearing a thorough water safety speech), the kids and their event leaders (and myself) paddled across Bibb County Lake on a gorgeous, sunny morning. During the frequent breaks for hydration and to refuel, Simon used those opportunities to educate the kids on man-made lakes. Not only did he dive into the details about how they are made, but also explained how man-made lakes with dams allow opportunities for hydroelectric power to be created by the water flow.  

He also shared the important environmental and economic impacts that man-made lakes have. When a creek or stream opens up into the larger space of a man-made lake, fish then have room to populate more and even grow into sizes that the environment of a creek would not allow them to. From an economic standpoint, man-made lakes are also beneficial for boosting our state’s economy. Fishing and boating licenses, necessary permits, and other requirements put money right back into our state’s economy.  

Not only was there a focus on learning the skill of kayaking as well as about their environment around them, the kids were also encouraged to learn more about each other as well. Leading them through the finger game, kids shared what they liked/loved (thumb), where they wanted to go (pointer finger), what they did not like (middle finger), and what they were committed to (ring finger). Doing this fostered a sense of camaraderie and connection.  

The next 4-H RiverKids Event will take place on Friday, June 14th at Montevallo Lake. Additional events will also take place on the Cahaba River at Pratts Ferry on June 21st and lastly on June 28th at BeesWax Creek Park at Lay Lake. However it should be noted that to join in on the 21st or 28th floats, you must have participated on either the 7th and 14th floats to be prepared. 

So come on, kids – set the screens down and get out in some sunshine with the 4-H RiverKids!