By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 9, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As families set up their tents along the banks of Lake Tholocco, parents and children settled in for a night of family fun under the stars.
The Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted its seventh annual Camping Under the Stars event Friday on West Beach as a tribute to military families as part of Month of the Military Family where people got the chance to roast marshmallows, play games, watch movies and enjoy story time with Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander.
Walsh read "Stone Soup" to the families and said that providing support for families through events like Camping Under the Stars is an important part of taking care of the Army family.
"The strength of our Army is these families right here," he said. "They are the foundation for our Soldiers, and it's nice that we can have activities such as this to bring them out to enjoy the festivities and each other's company. It just builds a better foundation for the family, and it enables strong families and enables strong support for the Soldiers."
Throughout the evening, families pitched their tents, and children were invited to play in bounce houses and enjoy activities under the gazebo before the garrison commander took part in the reading, but he wasn't alone in telling the story.
Three Soldiers, Sgt. Sam Arredondo, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment; Spc. Mykea Carrol, 1-145th Avn. Regt.; and Spc. Joshua Moore, 1-212th Avn. Regt., volunteered to help by acting as the three hungry strangers in the story on their quest to make a meal that everyone enjoys.
During the story, the Soldiers acted out their roles as they gathered the ingredients to mix into their soup, showing the families each step along the way until they had enough in their pot to eventually feed themselves, ending in a dance of happiness.
Following the reading, families were invited to make s'mores while enjoying a drive-in style movie as they lay under the stars, and many family members couldn't have been happier with the experience.
"I think this is a great way to get families outdoors and enjoy a night together with something a little different," said Janine Farley, military spouse. "We haven't been camping as a family before and I thought this would be a great introduction to it, so maybe this is something we will take up and become a regular thing.
"The weather was perfect and the kids had so much to do, so it's just been a great experience and I'd love to keep doing it," she continued. "I really appreciate all the effort that they've put into this."
For Alicia Martin, military spouse, the night of camping was something her family was able to enjoy without having to travel too far.
"We haven't really had much opportunity to travel and go camping, and usually here in the South the weather is really hot, even at night, so we didn't do much camping this summer, but the weather tonight is so nice we couldn't pass this up," she said. "This puts a different spin on the camping experience, too, with all of the activities and things the kids get to take part in, so I know we're really enjoying it. It's been a lot of fun."