NATICK, Mass. (Aug. 20, 2013) -- All summer long families have been able to join in the fun of float-in movies at the Gibson Pool at Natick Soldier Systems Center. On Aug. 17 families watched a few movies while laying poolside or floating around and had a chance to incorporate another family summer activity: camping!

For the first-time ever, the staff at Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation orchestrated a family camp-out that included camping favorites like roasting weenies, making s'mores, and relaxing among good company.

"It is an opportunity for all of our family members to have a morale-boosting activity within the safety of the installation itself," said Sherita Baker, special events coordinator and Gibson pool manager. "It also introduces people to the idea of outdoor camping and to the Natick MWR."

With the help of garrison partners, the Directorates of Emergency Services, Public Works and Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, the event was fun and safe for all.

"This was a great chance for me and my boys to come out here and camp out, but yet not have to drive all the way out to the woods," said Col. James Persson, medical director at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. "(This is) a bonding experience, a chance to do something very unique, that we wouldn't have otherwise."

Kevin Varney, a contractor with the Science Applications International Corporation, camped out with his wife, three daughters and their family dog, Lexi.

"We've been to a few of the pool events and movie nights … and it's always been a great bond with the kids," Varney said. "This looked really good and to be honest with you, my kids have never tented in their lives. We've done camping in campers, but we've never actually camped out in tents … They were pretty excited."

Family and MWR is a multi-faceted organization with plenty for families and Soldiers to do and after last year's successful run of float-in movies, several families mentioned that they would have loved to stay later. From there, the light bulb went on for Baker, who thought it would be perfect to have families camp out on the installation to draw them away from making a long commute after a fun-filled day.

At the height of the first movie, Family and MWR had a little more than 60 patrons at the event with about 50 people staying for the camp-out. The morning after the camp-out, campers were greeted with a continental-style breakfast and had a chance to mingle before heading home.

"We want everyone to enjoy themselves and be able to take away with them memories of spending time with their families," said Baker. "Sometimes we get bogged down in our buildings and we never see the light of day until it's time to go home."

Baker noted that DES checked in regularly and made sure there were no issues or problems.

"The event was a success," said Baker. "We had full occupancy of all the tents, we had no incidents or injuries; everyone was happy and safe."

In the future, Baker said Family and MWR would like to possibly extend the event to two days or open the event to Hanscom Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation for next year.

"We'd like to work with some of our Reserve and National Guard partners and get them out here and completely take over the point," said Baker.

Myra Jones, a research coordinator with USARIEM, said she would be in attendance at next year's camp-out. Jones had such a full tent that she had to request a second one; she brought her children, her neighbor's children and her smaller cousins and joked that she "might bring a few more kids" next year.

Although the family camp-out was the last family-oriented event of the summer, and the pool closes for the season on Sept. 1, Family and MWR has something in store for man's best friend: a "Pooch Plunge" scheduled for Sept. 7.

Page last updated Fri August 23rd, 2013 at 09:32