Need to get away?

Go bear hunting.

With COVID-19 regulations in Kansas ordering schools to close for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year and for residents in Dickinson County to practice social distancing, many Abilene residents have had to start working from home and worry about their children as well.

Being stuck in the house all day with children when the days begin to warm up has become exhausting. In response to this, Kristy Kohman, owner of True Blessings Studio, decided to create a Facebook Group, “Abilene KS Bear Hunt,” when she heard of a similar idea from a friend.

This group was created Sunday to allow a new and interesting way to safely get out of the house during this uncertain time. Just in the one day it was created, the page accumulated 700 members and the story reached KWCH 12 Eyewitness News. The reporters came Monday to do a video story on the Abilene KS Bear Hunt. Since Monday, the page has now gained more than 900 members.

Family only

The idea is to put a bear in the window at home or in a business, add a picture of it to the Facebook group so others can try to find it, and go on a bear hunt. It is important that participants drive or walk with immediate family only.

“This isn’t a get together with your buddies and go on a bear hunt. This is for the parents to do with their children,” Kohman said. “We really need to make sure we are following the recommendations from the health professionals. If you see another family walking around bear hunting, just wave or yell across the street.”

Members of the Facebook group have become very creative when it comes to the bears they put out or the way they count up the ones they see on their hunt. Some parents started creating charts with their children to help their learning in this time away from school.

“One of the ideas that I had was to assign a color, a letter, and a number each week, so this week the letter is M, the color is yellow, and the number is 4,” Kohman said. “As we are doing our bear hunts, my youngest daughter who is 4 and in preschool, she doesn’t know how to make a graph yet, and my first grader, we’re making a graph of how many big or little bears we see. How many bears versus other animals? I decided since the graph would be hard for her and the younger ones –the color, number, and letter of the week would be good for her. I think that utilizing this time with their siblings and their parents will be good to discuss these things and it will further their learning.”

More than bears

When looking around town you’ll see more than just a stuffed bear in the window. There are stuffed cats, dogs, large bananas, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, large bears, small bears, pictures of bears, even a large taxidermy bear that can only be seen from the window at night.

“I never anticipated people would do more than just teddy bears, but I love it. My kids get so excited when they see something new,” Kohman said.

Many people are adding signs with their bears like bible verses or “We will weather this storm together.”

The Facebook page really has an opportunity to tie the community together while practicing social distancing.

Contact Rebecca Scheller at Reporter2@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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