This year all 50 State Governors and President Obama proclaimed June 2015 as Great Outdoors Month. To celebrate this proclamation 12 state Governors and the President hosted Capital Campouts. The Capital Campout was started to engaged youth in urban areas to the outdoors. A few of the campouts goals were, to reach you with little exposure to their outdoor legacy, let governors demonstrate their support for parks, highlight easy access to healthy outdoor fun, and increase visitation to our state parks.
On Saturday, June 13, five local families from the Concord area arrived at Bear Brook State Park for New Hampshire’s Capital Campout. All morning and the day before, SCA New Hampshire Corps leaders and staff alongside New Hampshire State Park staff busied themselves preparing the sites for these lucky families. Campsites were raked; tents, sleeping bags, pads, and numerous other supplies were distributed to the sites; dinner was prepped; and a special leave-no-trace campfire was built. As the families trickled in, SCA leaders led them to their designated sites, where they began to unload and await a special host, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan.
Upon the Governor’s arrival, everyone gathered up around the fire pit to hear her welcome and proclamation of Great Outdoors Month. Immediately afterwards, SCA leaders split into two groups to give a fun demonstration of good and bad camping practices. As the Governor and State Park employees watched on, families learned about the four D’s for gathering firewood (dead, down, detached, and dry), proper trash disposal, and how to secure a shade tarp with just rope, no nails. Many kids proved to be natural leave-no-trace earth stewards and the parents learned some new tips and knots, all while the Governor smiled on. Afterwards, SCA leaders assisted in setting up the families’ campsites and helping them cook the dinner: pasta cooked on the stove with delicious basil chicken and vegetables cooked to nearly to perfection in a foil packet on the fire.
By this point the Governor had left but the campout continued. Families cleaned their dishes with SCA’s traditional four-bin system and then gathered around for a demonstration of a leave no trace mound fire. With the fire roaring, the children ate far too many s’mores before settling down for a regional Native American tale about the big dipper from the SCA interpretive ranger stationed in Bear Brook State Park, Christie Conway. As the light dwindled, families walked back to their tents for bed.
In the morning, everyone shared breakfast together and then SCA leaders helped the families pack up their gear before they headed out. The campout lasted only a short while, but during that time families explored the state park, made connections with other campers, and learned invaluable skills for camping in the future. Whether or not they had been camping before, each family seemed assured they would be back to enjoy New Hampshire’s parks and the great outdoors again in the future.
Special Thanks to our Event Partners:
American Recreation Coalition-Event Partnership- funding for food
Coleman-camping gear donation