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Daring Acts: Students explore nature in Hodges

Gage Keller repels down a 37-foot bluff at Bear Creek Education Center in Hodges. | Melissa Cason/FCT

HODGES – Fifth graders at Vina got a little closer to nature over the past few days as their Drug Abuse Resistance Education class visited the Bear Creek Education Center in Hodges.
DARE Office Mike “Pops” Franklin said the DARE program has held field trips for a number of  years at the end of the  year as a reward for the students for their hard work.
“The point of the trips is to show the kids  you can have fun and adventure without drugs and alcohol,” Franklin said.
For a number of years, the  DARE classes all went to the DARE Skate in Red Bay, but the schools have gotten away from the skates.
“The skates got harder to do because kids would fall and get hurt and the schools asked us to look into different trips,” Franklin said.
Franklin said the schools now take different trips.
Vina’s classes visited the Bear Creek Education Center, also known as Overton Farm Monday and Tuesday.
The students kicked the outdoor adventure off with an exploration of a cave near the farm.
“At some points in the cave, you have to crawl through it,” teacher Candi Weaver said.
For the students who didn’t want to explore the cave, Franklin took them on a scavenger hunt.
“It was so funny. Some of these kids didn’t know what a hickory nut looks like,” he said. “We learned about different things including what a hickory nut is.”
After a quick shower at the dorms, the students took to the sky in the high ropes climb.
Some of the students attempted the obstacle course suspended 25 feet in the air while others watched from below.
“I wish all the students would at least try this,” Franklin said.

A student cliimbs the cargo net into the obstacle course suspended 25 feet in the air as his partner helps him. | Melissa CasonAfter the high ropes, it was on to repelling.

The students repelled up and down a 37-foot bluff with the help of a center employee.
As nightfall came, the students participated in a square dance, and a round of ghost stories before going to sleep in the dorms.
The students spent Tuesday morning at the center with other activities the center has to offer such boating and learning about snakes.
Franklin said the other  schools will go to different places.
Russellville will go bowling and Belgreen will go to the Crow’s Nest in Mississippi. Red Bay still opts for the DARE skate.

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