Dennis Jasper identified a need among children of single parents and children with disabilities. Thus began the Kids Need a Place to Start outdoor program in St. James, Mo., in 2008. Jasper has not looked back.
“We give kids with disabilities and single parent children an opportunity which they would not otherwise have,” Jasper said. “These children so often fall through the cracks of our society. Too, single parents simply do not have the means to purchase necessary equipment for their children to get into the outdoor to hunt or fish.”
Members of KNAPS are dedicated people who have raised thousands of dollars over the years to introduce children to the outdoors. Auctions and raffles of donated items are a mainstay of the KNAPS budget, as well as tax deductible donations.
Board member Todd Yeggy is an avid outdoorsman and owner of Toad’s Sportsman Shop in Rolla, Mo., where locals pick up Bass Pro brand products. “It has been a life enriching experience to be involved in KNAPS.” Yeggy said. “We involve kids within a 50 mile radius of Rolla"
How to a Child can Participate in NAPS
Children who want to participate must write an essay about, ‘Why I Want to Hunt.” The board then selects eight kids from the applicants for each sponsored hunt.
“Our mission is to get kids out of the house and away from the video games and TV,” Jasper said. “We introduce them to the outdoor world by presenting classes about the outdoors including: animal identification, management practices for deer and wild turkey ,and gun and field safety. We instill in the students a sense of respect for fellow participants, instructors and the game they pursue. In the process, the kids acquire personal self esteem and develop a feeling for being responsible for themselves and their actions.”
Jasper said it was interesting to watch kids open up to their mentors. “The kids quickly realize that their mentor cares about them," he said. "It is one on one time together. And mentors and kids discuss all kinds of subjects.”
KNAPS opens doors for participants, with kids ultimately expressing interest in taking up photography or writing after attending a KNAPS event, Jasper said.
“We try our best to involve the kids in anything outdoor related that they may take up and continue to enjoy the rest of their lives," he said. "We know their lives will be richer and fuller.”
KNAPS rules insist that a parent or guardian come along with a child to share and enjoy the experience. “It is not the size of the deer or turkey the kids harvest that counts,” Jasper said. “It is the size of the memory created which matters.
“We are blessed to be able to enjoy the outdoors and we as KNAPS members are dedicated to teaching the kids about God, family and the great outdoors,” he said.
Check the K.N.A.P.S. website or call 573-465-4059.