Campout in Virginia’s Capital

Virginia State Parks' 2nd Annual Capital Campout

Tuesday started cloudy with forbidding forecasts of rain and thunder storms. It was a gloomy start to Virginia State Parks‘ Capital Campout. But Richmond weather is always a surprise, and just as the kids arrived mid-day, the sun was shining and the weather held for whole event.

This year, Virginia State Parks was one of eighteen state park systems hosting campout events in their capitals or other locations. The Capital Campouts are part of Great Outdoors Month in June, an initiative of the American Recreation Coalition with Coleman as a major sponsor.

Along with participating in Great Outdoors Month, Virginia State Parks felt the Capital Campout was also a great tie in to one of our favorite annual events, the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout. The Capital Campouts promote getting kids outdoors and connecting with wildlife and nature nationwide.

Kids learned to fish as one of the campout activities. Photo by PCO Pros
Kids learned to fish as one of the campout activities. Photo by PCO Pros

For the second annual Capital Campout, Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe hosted 26 youth from the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond at the mansion.

The kids started the day at Belle Isle Park (not to be confused with our State Park of the same name) where they enjoyed fishing, rock climbing, zip-lining, and other outdoor activities thanks to our partners: James River Park System, Bass Pro Shops, REI, and Passages Adventure Camp.

Zip-lining was a highlight of the campout. Photo by PCO Pros
Zip-lining was a highlight of the campout. Photo by PCO Pros

After the fun, everyone returned to the Governor’s Mansion for dinner and visiting with the Governor. AWARE animal rescue team delighted the group with an assortment of snakes, mammals and birds which had been rescued and rehabilitated.

In the evening, everyone toasted marshmallows, made s’mores, and played basketball with the Governor. On Wednesday, the kids ended their trip by heading out to Tredegar Iron Works for some programming by the National Park Service.

The VA Governor speaking to the kids. Photo by PCO Pros

All in all, the two days were a great success for the participants. Last year, thunder storms had sent the campout into a state office building for the night, but this year the kids enjoyed their first experience sleeping in a tent. Though, as one of the staff on hand mentioned, we are not sure how much the kids really slept.

Hopefully this event will encourage the kids to continue to camp and get outdoors throughout the summer. Virginia State Parks has also helped organize most of the state’s public campouts for the NWF’s Great American Campout. Although this Capital Campout is over, we hope to see many kids, families, and others camping in our parks and elsewhere across the nation!

See a photo slideshow from the event:

Pledge to CampPledge to Camp today and get outdoors in your state park!

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Published: July 1, 2016