There were kids fencing with invisible swords. Kids climbing over obstacles and doing gymnastics. Kids playing pickleball. There were kids everywhere!
Families flocked to McCormick Park on Sunday for an afternoon full of activities for the ninth "Unplug & Play" event to kick off Let's Move! Missoula's screen-free week.
Screen-free week, from April 28-May 5, is an annual national campaign encouraging families to limit the amount of time spent looking at or in front of computer and smart-phone screens.
Let's Move! Missoula Coordinator Lisa Dworak was hoping families would turn off their devices to "power down and turn up the fun."
"We're missing out on interacting with each other and having fun together," Dworak said.
While the weather wasn't perfect, Dworak was thankful the rain held off until the last hour and was pleased with the turnout.
Among the frenzy, Joe Allred was playing cornhole with his 10-year-old son Ethan and said they have been attending the event since finding out about it four years ago.
"These guys are kind of addicted to screens, although we try to regulate it as much as we can," Allred said. "So we like things like this that are another reason to say, 'Hey, get away from those. Come out and play.'"
While they weren't keeping score, cornhole was the favorite activity Ethan tried, although he was looking forward to trying out the ropes course as well.
Eight-year-old Keira Koujawa was also looking forward to the ropes course, because she didn't get to try it last year.
You have free articles remaining.
"I really liked it (the event) last year so I wanted to do it again this year and I wanted to try the ropes course since now I'm in third grade. Last year I didn't want to and there was a big line last year," Koujawa said. "It was fun."
There were a few special guest appearances as well. Monte and Smokey the Bear were on hand doling out hugs, high-fives and taking pictures with anyone who wanted one.
The two mascots were the favorite part for Adrian Chapman, who participated in everything from taekwondo to a quick guitar lesson. Chapman said he enjoys playing in the outdoors.
"You can play soccer, basketball," the 11-year-old said. "It's better than just sitting inside either watching TV or playing on a console."
All the activities being held for screen-free week are free or very low-cost, with $5 being the most to participate in a Super Skippers session Tuesday afternoon at the Rattlesnake School gym.
The other big event this week is a free showing of the film, "Screenagers," Thursday night at Hellgate High School. The film delves into how technology impacts kids' development and the challenges of parenting in a digital world.
Dworak rattled off some startling statistics about the amount of time people spend in front of some sort of screen each day. She said kids ages 8-14 spend an average of six hours a day in front of some sort of screen and high school kids send an average of 167 texts per day.
"I don't think we realize how screens impact us every day," Dworak said. "If you take your phone into your bedroom with you, for adults, it delays your bedtime by 37 minutes on average."
A list of the week's events can be found online at unplugmissoula.com