For hours on end Kelly Sittler sets off on treasure hunts at various parks in the community, searching for items she finds with her metal detector.
She has yet to strike gold, but Sittler often digs up harmful objects in areas that children play in. “It only took me a couple of times to go, ‘This is not good I wouldn’t want my kids in there without knowing’ so I like to go out there and give them a check over and pull out the garbage to make it safe,” she explained.
Earlier this week, at Lions Park in Elmira, Sittler found herself checking over the play area when she detected a metal rod that was only three inches deep in the ground that she suspects is part of an old structure. Without hesitation, Sittler called the Lions Club to make them aware of the harmful object in their playground.
This is only one of many non-treasures Sittler has found thanks to the beeping sound of her detector in the past five years that she’s been locating harmful objects.
“I like to do gardening so digging in the dirt and treasure hunting was normal to me,” Sittler said of her motivation to locate these objects.
The St. Clements resident has spent countless evenings with her metal detector for several years now, but it all started with her parents who got her into the hobby.
“Years and years ago my parents used to do it and we used to stand by their side and watch them dig and years and years later I got surprised with a gift of a detector of my own.”
Sometimes an evening of metal detecting can last up to six hours for Sittler, who says she has to set an alarm on her phone to remind her to go home. Without any obligation to the township, Sittler does this on her free time and considers it to be more than just a hobby but a getaway.
“Some people have a hobby that just takes them away from everything, your mind is just at rest. It’s a physical hobby for sure, but my mind is into what I’m doing.”
Beyond looking for dangerous items around the community, Sittler also takes the time to pick up any garbage she comes across on her hunting journey. The 54-year-old is often spotted in parks throughout St. Jacobs, Elmira, Linwood, St. Clements, and even Waterloo, making sure the areas are harm-free for children to play in.
Making sure the township provides a safe environment to have fun in is important to Sittler and is now being passed on to her grandkids. Although there is no formal project that Sittler is a part of, engaging her friends and family in taking part of cleaning up local parks is what has made the initiative grow, she says, it has even expanded from this summer season.
Sittler does her part as a community member by making sure kids do not get harmed while playing in local parks. It’s the thrill of the hunt – and the ability to do some good – that keeps her going, not some notion of being a hero, though the end result may paint that picture.