Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Despite Rainy Weather, City Campout Proves to Be a Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Despite Rainy Weather, City Campout Proves to Be a Success

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhonda Reese

It began with a thunderous bang, lightning and an hour-long rainstorm, but the Great Jacksonville Campout was a success.

Held at Losco Regional Park on Hood Road South in Mandarin, the fun-filled afternoon and overnight event was presented by Jax Parks and the Jacksonville Children's Commission for members of Mayor Peyton's Book Club. It offered an array of family-oriented activities with an emphasis on camping skills for children and parents.

Even with the wet start, 240 campers spent the night, said Cheryl Townsend, community outreach manager for Rally Jacksonville and Mayor Peyton's Book Club.

One of those campers was Monique Bellamy, who said the event was "great." She brought her children James, 9; Freddy, 7; Sharena, 6; Jahneeya, 5; and Logan, 2.

Nicole Foster also came along for the fun.

Though the young campers said they enjoyed watching an evening under the stars, they all agreed their favorite part of the campout was the late-night snacks.

"The s'mores was yummy," Freddy said.

Jahneeya especially enjoyed Foster's storytelling.

"She told us ghost stories," Jahneeya explained. "It was real scary."

Bellamy said she could hear other parents reading books and telling stories to their children, huddled inside neighboring tents set up under the park's massive oak trees.

"I don't know if anyone really slept," she added with a laugh.

Schools donated large vegetable cans and small tuna cans, which were transformed into buddy burners. Donated Frisbees served as plates for fresh fruit and "frogs in a hole" (bacon, eggs and toast). Whole Foods donated the nutritious fare.

"This was a fun learning experience for everyone," Townsend said, explaining that nothing was wasted during the campout. "We recycled most everything."

"We did have to buy the chocolate," Townsend added with a laugh a smile. …

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