Editor's note: This story was written before Gov. Kelly announced the statewide stay-at-home order on Saturday. That order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
By CRISTINA JANNEY
Local communities are finding ways to help kids stay engaged and maybe have a little fun with scavenger hunts.
Hunts for bears, usually the stuffed kind, placed in shop windows or on home window sills, was sparked by a popular children's book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," written in 1989 by Michael Rosen.
In the book, a family and their dog set out on a bear hunt but encounter such obstacles as mud, a river and a snowstorm.
The book inspired a children's song and animated Youtube videos.
Downtown Hays Development Corp. director Sara Bloom, who has four children at home, said she has both bears and rainbows in her windows.
Downtown businesses like the Paisley Pear also have placed teddy bears in their windows for children to count.
"It is something to do and a way to be connected when we can't be in the same room," Bloom said.
HPL Chalk Challenge
The Hays Public Library launched a sidewalk chalk challenge. The library has been closed to the public since the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S.
However, members of the library staff have continued to provide some offering online, including a video story hour for young children. Check out the HPL's Facebook page.
Participants in the chalk challenge are encouraged to color a picture with chalk or write an encouraging message on the sidewalk. Snap a photo, post it and nominate two friends. You can use the hashtag #HPLchalkchallenge.
Nicole Thibodeau in the Young Adult Department came up with the idea, Callie Kolacny, HPL communications coordinator, said.
"Nicole is an amazing artist, and she used that background to find a fun way to engage children and adults throughout the community," Kolacny said.
"Since we need to not physically provide programs at the library right now, we still want to find safe ways to reach out and provide ideas and services to the community," she said.
Local Girl Scouts are getting in on the chalk challenge as well.
Kris Bradley, Hays resident, took her daughter outside to chalk Thursday. Bradley, a Girl Scout leader, encouraged other Scouts to join in the challenge.
"Hey, it is fun and the outdoors combined, right?" she said in an online message.
Ellis with some promotion from the Ellis Recreation Commission has been promoting the bear hunt for about a week.
The Ellis Rec wanted to continue the fun, so they have launched a second hunt for Easter eggs. Residents are encouraged to create and place large wooden or cardboard Easter eggs in their yards for children to "hunt."
The Ellis Chamber usually conducts a traditional Easter egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter, but that event had to be canceled in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
Children are also encouraged to color pictures of eggs and hang them in their windows, Dan Pyle, Ellis Rec superintendent, said.
The rec is making eggs for the front of its office, and Pyle said his family will be making some to post at their home as well.
"It is a good way to break up the monotony," he said. "You can still go walking and still practice social distancing in the community."
The Ellis Rec also issued a Family Karoke Challenge on Friday on its Facebook page. Post your videos on the Rec Facebook page with the has tag #EllisRecFFChallenge for a chance to win a prize.
WaKeeney bears and scavenger hunt
WaKeeney also launched a bear hunt last week, according to Cathy Albert, director of the WaKeeney Travel and Tourism.
"Families can walk around with the weather being so nice," she said earlier this week. "It is a chance to get some fresh air."
The Trego County Junior High KAY Club launched a weekly scavenger hunt on Wednesday that will run through April 15. The theme is pillars of education.
Community members will display items in their windows for children to find. There will be a family prize pack as a reward. To enter to win a prize pack, text 785-769-3297 or post a photo to Stacie Minson's Facebook page, the KAY sponsor.
The first week's theme was respect and carrying and people were asked to post hearts in their windows.
"I have been really impressed how different communities have come up with things on the spur of the moment, especially for kids and families," Albert said. ... "something to do and a chance to get outside, especially with the nice weather."
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