Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011
During the second weekend in July, more than 125 visitors of all ages enjoyed a weekend of outdoor fun at Prince William Forest Park’s 75th anniversary campout. The campout took place on the same weekend as when children first camped at the park 75 years ago.
This event kicked off a year-long celebration of the park's 75th anniversary. Campout participants stayed in one of the park's five cabin camps, which were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression to host summer camps for urban youth as relief from hard economic times. In 1936, Prince William Forest Park, then known as Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area, first opened its doors as the model for 46 recreation areas built around the country.
At the 75th anniversary campout, visitors enjoyed guided activities, including canoeing, geo-caching, archery and crafts in a fun, family-oriented atmosphere. Upon arrival, campers were broken up into groups, each named after an early park summer camp – Camp Pleasant, Camp Goodwill, Camp Mawavi, and Camp Happyland.
A cadre of park staff and Student Conservation Association interns served as counselors for the event, taking each 'camp' under their wing and provided leadership, team spirit, first aid and more. To get the team spirit going, camp flags and cheers were created as part of the event. Even a few of the original Camp Mawavi girls, who had been there as part of a summer camp from the late 40s to the early 80s, spent the weekend with the other campers and shared their memories of this special place.
Upon arrival at the campout, campers were provided with food, a t-shirt and a NatureBridge.org water bottle. The water bottle came in handy as staff dealt with high temperatures by ensuring that visitors consumed enough water and enjoyed the shady forest cover.
At night, campers gathered around the campfire for songs, stories and games, led by ranger Jenn Kays and visitor use assistants Stephanie Pooler, Molly Galloway, and Kathy Roberds. S’mores were had by all and for some of the children it was their first s'mores experience.
Throughout the event, many parents remarked on how much fun it was to spend just one night at summer camp with their kids. To close out the campout, campers participated in a camp Olympics, where field activities and friendly competition rounded out the weekend. Medals were handed out, but everyone won with a weekend of family fun and outdoor adventure.
To see more photos from the weekend, visit the park's Facebook page at the link below.