SEBASTIAN – In an effort to expose more children to the outdoors, get some physical activity and explore Florida’s natural side, a handful of youth groups in the Sebastian area have taken one business up on its offer – a free 3-hour self-guided kayak tour.
“It was terrific,” said then-Youth Minister Bud Zielinski of signing the St. Sebastian Catholic Church Youth Group up for the Kayaks for Kids Program.
“Once they got going, they had a ball,” he said of the two-dozen kids who participated.
Zielinski said there were a couple reasons why he took About Kayaks up on its offer to provide free kayaks to the kids.
But, “primarily for us, it was free,” he said.
“They look at us a little suspiciously,” Kayaks for Kids Program organizer Jim Leissmann said of when he approaches potential participating groups.
Leissmann explained that about a year ago, when he came to work at About Kayaks in Sebastian, the company’s owner, Steve, decided he wanted to give back.
“He’d like to do something for the kids in the area,” Liessmann said, “and this is what we came up with.”
So far, after a year of offering the Kayaks for Kids program at no charge for youth groups, only four groups have participated.
“I want to make it available,” Liessmann said, noting that children who might not otherwise get to experience kayaking the St. Sebastian River, could through Kayaks for Kids.
Zielinski said that his youth group was excited to kayak the river, anxious to see the wildlife in pristine areas of natural Florida habitat.
Spotted during the self-guided tour were raccoons, other small mammals and birds.
“We would consider doing it again,” Zielinski said of the kayak trip.
Joe Maldonado, of Lakeside Fellowship Church, agreed that they, too, might go out again on the water.
“They were gracious hosts,” Maldonado said of About Kayaks.
His middle and high school students in the youth group participated in Kayaks for Kids Program. He called the experience “fantastic.”
“We’re kind of picky,” Maldonado said of choosing activities for the summer. Most times, they go to Disney World or Universal Studios.
“This was a perfect fit,” he said of the kayaking trip because it was a new experience. He added that the kids got some exercise and were able to enjoy the outdoors.
Anyone interested in signing their youth group up for the Kayaks for Kids 3-hour self-guided tour can contact About Kayaks by calling (772) 589-3469 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.