Okay, Maybe not real explosives but, the Ozark Middle School outdoors class received a lesson on how inflatable PFD’S work, as well as a few other things.

Before summer started Diane Luttrell, Ozark Middle School PE, Health, and Outdoor teacher contacted Ozark Mountain Trading “My work” to talk about getting them some pricing on some kayaks for the school. She wanted to see how much it was going to cost to start a water safety and paddling section of her class. I was lucky enough to answer that call when she contacted the store. For the next few months, Diane worked hard to obtain grant money to start this Paddling program. Though it was not for a whole fleet of boats she was able to obtain a grant from the Ozark School District Foundation for $1780.00. Now this amount was not going to be able to provide a number of boats she is hoping to get for her classes but it was a great start and certainly a blessing in the sky from the foundation.

Diane knows that the area we live in is surrounded by beautiful waterways and that there was a need to start a program like this for Ozark Schools. Many parents raise their kids on these rivers, however, many kids don’t get a chance to see and explore the scenic waters we have. Diane and Ozarks schools, as well as the school district foundation, wanted to give these kids that opportunity and find different avenues of physical education to take for these kids. So, with the help of this grant and Ozark Mountain Trading Company in Ozark Mo, She was able to pick up 3 brand new Perception Sit on Top Kayaks, Proper Life Jackets and three Bending Branches Paddles. This would be a great way to start building this program for the kids of Ozark Schools.

Now is the part where I come in. Diane asked me if I would come into her class “7:40 AM ! ! ! ! ! ” and give some basic water safety tips to one of her classes. I was honored by the invite and agreed to come in at “7:40AM” to talk to one of her classes. Now, holy crap, what was I going to talk about, common sense stuff really. But, how was I going to keep them interested and not bore them by showing them how to buckle a life vest or explain to them other common sense safety precautions. In comes the explosives and flying objects, ok, maybe not explosives but, a high-pressure inflatable life belt. This should do the trick, so after a few minutes of explaining to them how to properly fit a kayak life jacket, I decided to wake them up a little bit and put on my SUP Belt “inflatable PFD” and pull the ripcord. Poof the belt popped open and inflated and the kids seemed to perk up a little bit. Sadly Diane did not get a picture of what had to look like Chris Farley trying to put a life vest on. And I am okay with that. Next came the throw bag, now, throw bags are typically used in the whitewater side of kayaking but I thought it would be fun to show them other safety devices that they can carry in case they did run into an issue. I did explain to them that there was a little more to just throwing a bag full of rope at a person in trouble but, they liked the visual and it kept their attention.


It’s pretty cool to see a school system like Ozark Schools want to start programs like this. For one, it will get the kids outdoors and active, it will break the monotony of regular class work and in turn, it will introduce these kids to something other than a video game. Diane is working hard to obtain more funding to grow this program and she is certainly making huge leaps to help teach kids about the outdoors. There are many schools around the country doing the same thing and it feels pretty good to see Diane and the Ozark School system take the steps to provide a program like this.

Once again, never in my life thought I would be invited to do something like this and it makes me feel pretty good knowing I was a little part of what is going to be something very big for kids in this area. It was nothing to advanced, just some basic information that could possibly end up saving one of their lives. I explained to the class that just like bike helmet’s, life jackets and basic safety gear may seem dorky to other people until you need or have been saved by those dorky pieces of gear. I even showed them how they can use certain gear for fun, like wearing your PFD like a diaper when you’re swimming in a swimming hole and how that piece of garden hose you can keep in your boat for a rescue snorkel can be used to fend off snakes. But, most importantly they will have the gear to save their lives. Ozark Mountain Trading and I would like to thank the Ozark Middle School system for the opportunity to work with them for this class and we are excited to see what the future brings, who knows, maybe we can get the kids up on SUP boards.

If there is anyone who reads my blogs that works for a school system or would like to donate to your local school system to start programs like this please get involved and make it happen. Like I said before, the Ozarks has some of the most beautiful waterways in the country, if not world. These kids deserve to see and be part of it. Getting them involved early in life will only guarantee that these rivers, lakes, and streams will be here for generations.

Once again, Thank you Diane Luttrell and the Ozark Middle School for letting me and my place of work be a part of this new adventure.

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