By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 21, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2012) -- Cozying up next to a fire and having some hot cocoa on a cold November night is how about 150 Soldiers and Family members spent part of their Friday night during the Camping Under the Stars event at Lake Tholocco's West Beach.
The Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation teamed up with other organizations on Fort Rucker, as well as the Boy Scouts of America's Troop 50, to put on the event for military Families, according to Brian Jackson, DFMWR program manager.
"The emphasis of the Camping Under the Stars event is a tribute to military Families," he said. "It's a way for DFMWR and other organizations to come together to provide an activity for our military Families."
Jackson said the importance of providing military Families with events like camping comes from the unique circumstances that military Families experience, and Sgt. Shane Cross, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, agreed that events like Camping Under the Stars are appreciated.
"Feeling disconnected is a big thing that happens with military Families, so events like this help out with that," said Cross, who attended the event with his wife, Sara, and two children.
"It's definitely good to be able to come out and feel like you're a part of the community here," said Sara. "It seemed like a fun Family event to do and I thought [our children] would enjoy it."
The night kicked off with a showing of the movie "How to Train Your Dragon" on an inflatable screen that Families were able to watch from tents that were set up in front of the screen.
Families were able to use free tents provided by outdoor recreation and share a Family experience with different activities.
"We had a total of 13 Families reserve the ODR tents and 28 Families that signed up for the "Tell Me A Story" program," said Jackson.
"Tell Me A Story" is a program in which Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, came out to read stories to the children during the event.
Along with McRae, members of the Center Library were also in attendance to read stories to children. After the garrison commander read to the children, the Center Library read the story "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," followed by a showing of the movie of the same title, which Jackson said provided a unique experience.
"The movies provided by [the post exchange] were a huge hit and children loved the story readings by Colonel McRae," said Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR marketing director. "We had a great turnout with the cool fall weather and it was perfect for campfires, s'mores and tons of Family fun. The event provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy quality Family time."
Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers was also on hand to provide games like Tic-Tac-Toe and Kerplunk in scaled-up versions for Families to take part in. Children were also able to get their face painted or take part in the child, youth and school services' scavenger hunt.
"The scavenger hunt was called 'Skulls and Tails'," said Jackson. "There were different taxidermy animals that were put in and around the forest line, and the children had to find them and figure out the type of animals they were."
Activities like the scavenger hunt were just part of the activities that provided a learning experience for Families in attendance.
"It's definitely a learning experience for Soldiers and their spouses to have with their children," he said. "They can come out and learn how to make a s'more or set up a tent. That's really the point of the event."
The need for the event comes directly from feedback that DFMWR gets from the community on the installation, and a camping event is something that Jackson said Families were interested in.
"Every year or two we do a needs assessment survey, and one of the top five events out of 20 programs was a camp out," he said. "Last year was our first time putting on a camp out, but it was unfortunately rained out. There was still a lot of interest, so we wanted to make sure we did it again this year and we had a perfect night for it."