Ian Barker crammed about a week’s worth of new summer activities into a few hours Saturday, trying his hand at rafting, canoeing and kayaking on the Spokane River, then shooting a bow and a slingshot at nearby Camp Sekani.
With his mom Jennifer, 7-year-old Ian paddled on the placid river waters near Boulder Beach. They struggled to find a rhythm getting away from the shore in an inflatable kayak, but after a jaunt up, across, down and back, they were paddling in tandem.
It was fun, said Ian, but he liked the canoe better. The paddle is easier to handle.
The Barkers were among about 300 people who came to the camp and the beach in the Spokane Valley for the first ever Sekani Adventure Day. The day was designed as a chance for people to try a wide range of activities that the city Parks and Recreation Department someday hopes to have available on a regular basis. Along with the water sports and archery, there was rock climbing, camp cooking demonstrations, hiking with map and compass and mountain biking.
It was also a chance for several local outdoor stores to show off their gear. Jon Wilmot of Outdoor Flow brought five inflatable kayaks, five hard kayaks and a pile of life vests.
“We had a ton of first-timers” trying out the equipment, Wilmot said. “I think the youngest was 2.”
It may have been good marketing as well. A fairly common question after first-timers got out of the canoes or kayaks was “how much does one of these cost”?
Mike Aho, recreation supervisor with the parks department, said the long-term master plan for the Camp Sekani-Beacon Hill area is to develop ongoing “adventure” activities on the property. They wouldn’t all be available every day but could be scheduled for the same time each week.
“We wanted to try out all of the possible activities that could be done out of Sekani,” Aho said.
The first adventure day was not without its glitches. The store that was supposed to supply fly-fishing equipment and instruction didn’t show, and neither did a local archery club.
Aho was able to make up for the latter loss, pulling some old bows and arrows out of storage and setting up a makeshift archery range with some empty water bottles on a plank between two buckets.
The first-time archers didn’t seem to mind – but they rarely hit anything anyway.