OGDEN — Apparently, kids like doing what they normally aren’t allowed to do.
That was the premise behind allowing the kids from Youth Impact to play in the mud at a Mud Wars event Saturday at the Golden Spike Events Center.
Several dozen kids from Youth Impact arrived early to the fundraising event to play in the mud before the paying public got to enter.
“I like rolling in the mud,” said McKinzie Burnett, 11.
Fifteen-year-old John Reyes let his friends bury him in the mud.
He said after six years in the program, he can trust his friends to do that.
“It’s just fun to hang out with some friends and have some fun,” he said.
Saturday morning, the kids could race from the obstacle course to the 100-foot-long plastic wet slide to the dunking machine. Most said the dunking machine filled with muddy water was their favorite part.
They dunked each other as well as their leaders.
There was mud dodge ball, mud volleyball and chance to joust with an opponent until he or she fell into muddy water.
Of special note was that it was the girls who won a tug-of-war that ended with the boys being dragged through, you guessed it, muddy water.
Organizer Tyler Jensen said he’s hoping to expand his operation to include upcoming Mud Wars events in Logan, Salt Lake City and Provo.
He put together Saturday’s event as a service to the general public as well as a fundraiser for Youth Impact because he says he loves the program.
“I did volunteer work for Youth Impact in college,” he said.
Jensen said he got the idea for Mud Wars by incorporating the fun things he did as a youth growing up on a dairy farm into his plans of providing public attractions.
“I grew up milking cows, and that’s how we used to have fun back in the day,” he said.
Jensen started his company, Big Time Events, a year ago and is planning a career in putting together such attractions.
Earlier this spring, he organized a 5K race that raised $2,500 to fight cancer. Jensen’s mother is fighting the disease, he said.
Youth Impact Director Robb Hall said the Youth Impact kids were invited to play in the mud as a payback for the community service they do.
He said all program participants are required to do 10 hours of volunteer work a month and those who participate in club sports that require more sponsors must do 15 hours a month.
“It starts with garbage clean-up,” he said. “Our little kids do that.”
But the service includes painting and other maintenance on fire hydrants and helping to man dozens of community events put on by the GOAL Foundation and others.
“The community supports us,” Hall said. “This is our way to pay them back,”
Youth mentor Matt Youngberg spent the whole time putting mud piles on kids’ heads, stuffing mud-covered objects into the back of their shirts and flinging muddy water at them.
“I always pick on the kids,” he said. “I’ve just found that the kids always are encouraging me to be approachable.”
Duane Gomez, a home and school liaison for the program, was covered in brown slime everywhere except his eyeballs.
“They dog-piled me into the mud.”