Editor’s Note: The annual “Great American Backyard Campout” will be celebrated in backyards as well as parks across the U.S. this weekend. Here is how one state will mark the occasion.
The Great American Backyard Campout, set for this weekend at state parks across Virginia, aims to encourage families to take advantage of a traditional and affordable way to spend time together outside.
Richmond residents can get in on the fun when the camping event starts at Pocahontas State Park at 10301 State Park Road in Chesterfield at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, the Richmond Dispatch reported.
According to Zoe Rogers, visitor service specialist for Virginia State Parks District 4, camping is a fun activity that is sometimes neglected in today’s technologically-focused world, but Saturday evening’s activity aims to change that notion.
“It encourages families to get out,” Rogers said. “For the first time, we have a generation that is largely disconnected from nature, but doing things outdoors like camping makes kids happier and healthier.”
Special educational programs that will happen from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. are free to anyone who camps in the campgrounds.
Although the Great American Backyard Campout has happened at Pocahontas State Park before, this year’s itinerary will include appearances by invited guests for the first time.
“We wanted to change up the program this year,” Rogers said. “We wanted to offer people the experience of being in our campground and give them activities to enjoy throughout the night.”
For instance, the Old Dominion Iron Chefs will provide a cooking demonstration that uses cast iron and Dutch ovens to prepare a campfire meal. The Bee Flats will play an assortment of traditional songs that include banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin sections.
The Crewe Astronomy Club will be on hand with its telescopes to teach attendees about the stars and various constellations.
“Pocahontas State Park is 8,000 acres, so it eliminates having all those competing lights like you would in a subdivision,” Rogers said. “So you get to see all the stars shining brightly.”
Other programs will get underway earlier that day, such as an archery class that Rogers said will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The park’s nature center and the Civilian Conservation Corps museum will also be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think this particular event is a great opportunity for families who camp together or have not had the experience together before,” Rogers said. “They can slow down to enjoy time together and what nature brings – looking at the stars, cooking a meal at a campsite and being a family in a relaxing and quiet environment.”
Space for the Great American Backyard Campout is limited to 129 campsites.