By Robyn Bristow
Lockdown in Waikuku Beach is no picnic.
But the 1st Bear Company is making it a lot of fun for the beach community’s young, and not so young, residents.
Dressed in full army uniform, the teddy bears have been popping up along walkways, hiding in trees and shrubs, providing fun and games for children trying to find them during the daily walks.
If they head to the local Waikuku Beach General Store before noon on Friday, April 24, they can meet the platoon commander, Lieutenant Bigted. Give him a salute and you will get a free lollipop.
The Teddy Bear hunt is the brainchild of Oliver Sanderson who collected up most of the 1st Bear Company during trips to the resale store at the Southbrook Resource Recovery Park.
Their army uniforms have been crafted out of old green curtains and an army oilskin jacket.
“As a former New Zealand Army soldier and officer myself, this was just a great way for me to share some of my experience with the younger members of the community. It was also a great way for me to keep connected to the community without actually coming in physical contact with anyone,” he says.
“This type of military style bear hunt helps them learn to scan the ground properly as well as improving their attention to detail,” he says.
Oliver has also set up a 1st Bear Company Facebook page for the children to follow and find out where to look for the bears on any given day during the lockdown.
The bears are hidden in areas adjacent to common walking routes in groups of six to eight.