Sunday, June 16, 2024

Stuffed animals are stashed in windows and on porches around Camberville as part of a coronavirus-era “bear hunt.” (Photo: Faye Rapoport DesPres)

Every day there’s less to do and fewer places to go as more coronavirus-inspired restrictions are put in place by the city and the state. Basketball courts and playgrounds are off-limits, and kids without school and after-school programs are cooped up and pent up, with few outlets. But a bit of light entertainment being enjoyed nationally has taken hold in Camberville, thanks to some socially minded residents.

The low-key “bear hunt” is a scavenger hunt of sorts coopted from the 1989 children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, in which kids on bike, foot or in a car can scour their neighborhoods for bears – stuffed animals or the like perched on porches or windowsills of participants’ homes.

The local treasure hunt got going after a few online communications on listservs; Neighborhood 9 resident Andrew Richman, whose children are now teenagers but empathized with the mounting boredom of isolation, put together a Google spreadsheet so participants could list addresses where young ones could find a teddy. Michael Hodess, of Huron Village, turned the spreadsheet into an interactive map. There are well over 200 destinations on the map so far.

“Kids don’t just want to go for a walk,” one parent with a young one said to me as I was checking out bear locations around town. “This gives them something to do.”

Many folks such as Richman who don’t have young children participate for the community aspect. Said Faye Rapport DesPres of North Cambridge, “We are just really happy to participate in something fun for the neighborhood children during these challenging times.”

The pushpin map includes a form for participants to add a new location easily.

Fun fact: Did you know the teddy bear is named after President Theodore Roosevelt? It’s because the 26th president refused to shoot a bear on a hunt when he deemed it unsporting.