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Beating the Summertime Blues
Youth in South Texas Take Aim at Summer Fun
by Raul Garza and Beth Ullenberg
July 11, 2018

A young woman takes careful aim at a target with a bow and arrow on a sunny afternoon. Credit: USFWS
A young woman takes careful aim on a sunny afternoon. Credit: USFWS

“I’m bored, there is nothing to do”. The dreaded words spoken by school children when the school year has ended and the lazy days of summer have kicked in. But staff at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas have come up with an awesome way to help local youth fight those summertime blues. Refuge Ranger Raul Garza has teamed up with the Alamo Youth & Recreation Centerin Alamo, Texas to create a Youth Outdoor Skills program. “Ranger Raul” has figured out a way to bring backyard fishing and archery to the kids at the Club.

A young woman tcasts a line with a fishing rod at a plastic fish. Credit: USFWS
A young woman learns to cast a fishing line. Credit: USFWS

For most of the youth, this is a new and exciting experience they have never had. The backyard fishing is a great way to introduce them to fishing without having to get near water. Students learn about the poles and then go through a hands-on, real world “cast and reel” exercise taking them through all the motions of real fishing. For first time anglers this can be challenging, but the delightand smiles are real when they make a catch, even if the fish is plastic.

Ranger Garza coaches a girl on proper form while drawing back a bow. Credit: USFWS.Ranger Garza coaches a girl on proper form while drawing back a bow. Credit: USFWS

Archery tends to be the highlight. Students receive step by step directions and guidance from a certified instructor who ensures they have a full grasp of commands and safety before actually shooting. Experiencing a new outdoor skill can be daunting, but any apprehension quickly melts away after their arrow hits the overstuffed target.

For many, this is their first exposure to these outdoor skills. Over 300 local youth have been served to date and the program continues to grow. But the program offers something much deeper. Raul has witnessed each summer over the 6 week course students are building confidence and self-esteem. They learn about core values of friendship, discipline, sportsmanship, and success. And that makes beating the summertime blues the best part of the summer.

Last updated: February 12, 2019