This past weekend the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area hosted their first Recreation Festival. The National Park Service promoted the event widely in park-poor communities around Los Angeles. Paramount Ranch, with it’s historic movie set buildings and idyllic location in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains was a perfect place to introduce so many to the wonders of the great outdoors.
Visitors from underserved communities were bused in from Compton, South Los Angeles, Wilmington and other areas. While there was a definite contingent of locals and experienced park visitors, it was wonderful to see so many people visiting the mountains for the first time. For many visitors, Spanish was the preferred language, often with the kids translating for their parents. Over 1700 people visited the Rec Fest and had the opportunity to experience a number of outdoor activities.
Kids were able to try climbing on one of two climbing walls, ride a horse on a trail ride, try fly-casting and learn about fishing. The local Audubon Society chapter talked about birding, and many of the birds that could be seen right from their booth. Everyone who completed the 1-mile trail running foot race were awarded a medal. A self-guided hiking route was marked for families to follow. CORBA’s Youth Adventures program offered kids a chance to ride a mountain bike on a guided trail ride. There was no shortage of things to do.
CORBA was there in a big way to promote mountain biking. Girlz Gone Riding were also there encouraging lots of young women to try mountain biking. We had our CORBA booth, giving out information on trail etiquette and promoting our youth programs: CORBA Kids Club and CORBA Youth Adventures. But mostly we were answering “where can we ride bikes?” Fortunately, the answer was “right over there.”
Mountain Bike Unit volunteers were on hand with CORBA’s Youth Adventures fleet of over 40 bikes, along with smaller kid’s bikes on loan from Walk N’ Rollers, a nonprofit in Culver City that promotes healthy transportation alternatives, such as walking and biking, for children. The MBU runs the Youth Adventures program on behalf of CORBA.
Well over 200 kids went out for either a short trail ride, or to ride a short course with some small wooden bike park features. For much of the day there was a 30-minute wait to get on a bike, and at times it was hard to get the kids off the bikes as they just wanted to keep doing laps. The kids’ ear-to-ear grins were their own reward. (more…)