One Night of Camping Changed Wanda’s World

Wanda Whiteside recommends camping for everyone
Wanda Whiteside recommends camping for everyone
Wanda Whiteside had never slept outside in her life. When she heard about the Great American Backyard Campout, she decided it was time.

“It’s all about new experiences. Everything that you do in life – whether it’s listening to a story, camping out, makes you different than what you were before you did that. Just think if everyone camped out, we would some very hearty people – people with heart,” she says.

She views every experience as an opportunity to add layers to her character. This community activist from Atlanta, Georgia, wants young people to feel connected with their home. She sees camping as just one more way to do that.

Just talking with Wanda makes you want to try new things. Why don’t you try camping this year with the Great American Backyard Campout?

Being the Brave One

Wanda brought three generations of people to her very first campout. She wanted everyone to have a good time.


“Well, I had to be the brave one, because everyone else was thinking like “oh, spiders, and what’s that sound.” So I had to pretend “oh, that’s nothing.” But yet I had my own trepidations about how the night would go. And it was very peaceful. The sounds were soothing – although, once I again, I mention my age, and I had to adjust lying on the floor. That was about it. The night went very peacefully and when morning came, I could almost hear the roosters – although there were no roosters – but it was like the earth was saying, it’s a new day.”

Campout was Only the Beginning

Wanda attended her first Great American Backyard Campout in June 2011 at the Outdoor Activity Center in Atlanta. National Wildlife Federation, in partnership with REI, organized the event where they supplied all the camping gear, food and expertise. Many participants had never camped before, but they got help from volunteers and other participants on how to set up their tents. For Wanda, this campout was the beginning of a new interest in outdoor activities.


“I went on another campout! I really did! I went kayaking and rock climbing. So I had discovered something new. I had managed to go beyond my comfort zone, push the envelope and have new experiences – get wet and get dirty and at the end of the day be tired and have that memory.”

Get Inspired by Wanda

People of all ages and interests have found that a night of camping gives them a new perspective on life. Wanda gives her advice to new campers:


“If you want to find out more about your capabilities, your potential, what the wind feels like against your skin, how you are different in terms of being in your workplace, being in your home. What does it feel like to be you outdoors? I can say that there is a newfound freedom to explore, to relax.”

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