By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 29, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Although cold weather has finally embraced the South this season, the temperature was perfectly mild for a night to make great memories under the Alabama stars.
Families came together along West Beach at Lake Tholocco for a night of s'mores, movies, games and stories during the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation Camping Under the Stars Nov. 18.
The annual event featured a story time by Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander, and a special appearance by Sgt. Ted E. Bear, who was brought to life by Fort Rucker's own Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher D. Spivey, Fort Rucker garrison command sergeant major.
"I really appreciate the fact that I get to bring my children out here for a night like this," said Jayme Brennan, military spouse. "Camping is a great way for us to get time together and create memories for our children, and that's exactly what we want to do."
Brennan said that, as a child, her parents would often take her camping, but with life sometimes getting in the way, it can be difficult for her own family to find the time to enjoy such activities.
"We used to go camping all the time when I was a kid and I always loved it," she said. "It's not something that we get to do as often as we'd like, and I think it's definitely good for kids these days to get a taste of the outdoors because I think the older we get, the less time we spend in nature."
Although this year's event didn't include a bonfire because of exceedingly dry weather, people were still able to indulge in hot chocolate and make s'mores by the grill. Also, throughout the night, children got the chance to jump in a bounce house, pick out a temporary tattoo of their choice, and watch movies on the big screen, all while laying comfortably in their tents.
W01 Darren Marcus, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, came out with his wife, Jennifer, and two children, and although they weren't able to stay for the night of camping, they didn't miss out on the fun.
"Even though we aren't camping, I still wanted to enjoy this experience with them," said Darren. "You don't get a lot of opportunity to get to watch movies on a big screen outdoors with a lot of other families and I thought this would be great for the kids to enjoy."
"We try to attend as many events as we can for our children," added Jennifer. "If they're having a good time, then we are, so we're really enjoying ourselves. We think it's great that they offer events like this for the families here because a lot of times it can be tough to come up with ways to entertain the kids -- we're just really grateful."
That entertainment and quality of life is just part of what DFMWR aims to provide for the Soldiers and families on Fort Rucker, said Aida Stallings, Fort Rucker DFMWR community recreation division business manager.
"Camping is a great activity for families to enjoy some quality time together," she said. "November is the Month of the Military Family, and we (at DFMWR) do the best we can to show that we care about the Soldiers and their families by providing an excellent event that brings the military families together for a night of fun."