Seventy youth and their families — totaling nearly 150 campers — spent this past weekend weekend experiencing the outdoors in new ways at the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) inaugural Campin’ in the Park at Fischer Park in Spring Hill.
The free, public event included a variety of engaging outdoor activities including archery, fort building, conservation trivia, Backyard Bass casting, a Leave No Trace scavenger hunt as well as lessons on camping/backpacking gear essentials.
Organized by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1853, the event was supported by the City of Spring Hill and The Bearden Group. USA staff along with 13 volunteers from UAW Local 1853, The Bearden Group, the City of Spring Hill, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) donated more than 100 hours to provide participants with instruction and assistance throughout the event.
“A majority of the participants were first time campers, and they got to experience a little bit of everything from great weather during the day to storms at night,” said USA Conservation Coordinator Cody Campbell. “A few of the campers got a little wet, but they said they still had a great time and couldn’t wait to come back next year.”
The event was part of Work Boots on the Ground, the USA’s flagship conservation program, and a series of community outreach events that aim to instill the next generation with an appreciation and passion for the outdoors.
On Saturday evening, the families enjoyed free hotdogs, donated by Food Lion, and youth also received USA goody bags.
“We received so much praise from the parents, who appreciated that the event was close to home and within the community. Their kids were wearing them out all week in anticipation,” said UAW Local 1853 Vice President Mike Lewis, who helped organize the event and assisted youth with Backyard Bass. “Our organization is all about community outreach, and we are so glad we were asked to be part of this fantastic event. Our payment was seeing the kids smiling and having a great time.”
“Hands-on, interactive events like this inspire love, respect, and a sense of responsibility for the outdoors,” said USA CEO and Executive Director Walt Ingram. “We are proud to provide young people and their families with these rewarding experiences and extremely grateful to all the union members and partners who make them possible.”