Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program, an opportunity for area youth

Girls group celebrating hands up, summit Lake Mountain 7700 feet, during a hailstorm, first summit ever for 7 girls, day after a failed attempt. Photo taken during  the 2019 Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program Photo courtesy of Bill Moe.


By Tracy McNew


The Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program wrapped up six weeks of summer fun last week. Sixty students in fifth through eighth grade participated in the program and had the opportunity to hike, kayak, fish, swim, cook, pan for gold, shoot bows, learn survival skills and leave no trace principals, and play lots of games.

The program is grant funded, totally free for participants, and even includes food. Fifth graders participated for one week, and students in sixth through eighth grades participated for two weeks. Girls and boys groups participated separately, and eight high school students were hired to take part in the program as mentors for the sixth to eighth grade groups. This year’s mentors were Ryker McElmurry, Hunter Hoover, Caden Williams, Dawson Cady, Aspen Swartzenberger, Jacey Offenbecher, Annika Thorstenson, and Isabelle Kapan.

According to LES teacher and Kootenai Outdoor Adventure Program leader, Bill Moe, “Some of our kids have no outdoor experience and some of them have a lot, watching them work together is amazing!” Some highlights of this year’s program included exploring Kenelty Caves and finding an area as big as a house, summitting Lake Mountain at 7,700 feet in a hail storm, picking wild morale mushrooms, finding gold in Libby Creek, and shooting archery in the Yaak with a sasquatch.

Thanks to Mr. Moe, Mrs. Stiger, Ms. Witham, Mr. Zeiler, Mr. Brumbaugh, Ms. Chvilicek, and Mrs. Rewerts for working this summer to offer enriching outdoor opportunities for our students. One fifth grade participant told The Montanian, “Now I love the outdoors, it was so much fun. I can’t wait to learn more about nature.”

A word of advice from Mr. Moe, “Kenelty Cave, oh rats! Never wear the same shoes or clothes to another cave system without proper cleaning due to spreading disease to bats.”