Community starts ‘Bear Hunt’

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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With everyone under Stay-at-Home orders, parents and caregivers are looking for fun and creative ways to entertain their children, all while practicing social distancing.

Kelli Harding and Claire Locke, two Charlotte County teachers following the lead of many other neighborhoods in surrounding counties and across the country, have begun a county-wide “Bear Hunt.”

The hunt is inspired by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s 1989 children’s book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” In the story, a group of children overcome obstacles to “catch a big one” while out on their hunt.

A Facebook page with close to 300 members, known as the Charlotte County Bear Hunt, has been created. The page lists all the places citizens have placed stuffed bears and other stuff animals such as in windows, on porches, trees and even sitting on a farm tractor.

Families then have the opportunity to drive throughout the county looking for stuffed bears all the while singing the popular children’s song, “We’re going on a bear hunt.”

According to Locke, who did a Facebook poll, there are more than 175 stuffed animals throughout the county.

“One of the earliest bears seen in the county was found at the home of Mark and Kelli Harding near Keysville,” Locke said. “Mrs. Harding’s enthusiasm spread quickly to others who wanted to join in the fun.”

According to Harding, she got the idea to start the bear hunt from when she learned that the surrounding area of Clarksville and Chase City had started a bear hunt.

“As a teacher in our county, my mind always turns towards helping children,” Harding said. “I challenged our Charlotte County residents and businesses to display stuffed bears in their windows and yards. Parents with children were then asked to go take their kids on a “bear hunt” throughout the county in their vehicle. I knew this would be a fun, safe, engaging activity for kids while practicing social distancing.”

Harding says based on the many Facebook posts she has seen, children and adults alike have enjoyed hunting for all the bears and other stuffed animals around the county.

Jessica Pillow, who has placed a stuffed cow on her porch for children to find, also agreed that this is a great way to practice social distancing all while being able to get out of the house.

“It also shows the love and unity of the community to keep positive,” Pillow said.

For Locke, she says there are two main things her family gets excited about these days, and that is fishing and bear hunting.

Locke said her son Luke loves learning the song, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” as they ride around.

“Being away from friends and family throughout these weeks has been a difficult adjustment for everyone,” Locke said, “Riding out for a few minutes every couple of days gives my three children and all of us young at heart something fun and exciting to do while social distancing.”

Locke said that each day, new bears and even dogs, monkeys, cows and bunnies are hiding out along the roads just waiting to be found.

“We’ve been on three bear hunts over the past week and have found approximately 60, but we’re still on the lookout for ones we have yet to spot,” Locke said. “It’s extremely heartwarming that the county came together for a little fun while we can’t spend time together in person.”

Once families are done finding all the animals hiding out in the county, Harding recommends sharing the book, “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” by Jimmy Kennedy if they have elementary-age children.

“Read the story and have your own teddy bear picnic right in your own backyard,” Harding said. “This would be a fun follow-up activity to our bear hunt fun.”