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Posted June 18, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Overnight seminar to give pointers to amateur campers


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By Linwood Outlaw III -- loutlaw@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Rising gas prices and tight budgets in the midst of a recession have some families thinking "staycation" rather than vacation, and outdoor camping may be a popular activity of choice for local residents this summer.

Shenandoah National Park will hold seminars starting this month to help families learn some basic outdoor survival skills.

The park will be hosting its overnight "Basics of Family Camping" seminar from June 27 to 28. The seminar coincides with the national Great American Backyard Campout campaign that encourages families to camp out for one night, according to a news release issued by park officials. The seminar "is designed for those families who have always wanted to learn how to camp, but never had the time to learn," the release states.

"People are looking for alternative opportunities in order to save some money. They're not traveling as far [and] they're not going to the places [they have] normally been. They're looking for places closer to home, and we certainly do fit that bill," park ranger Regina Cardwell, who is coordinating the camping seminar, said in a phone interview last week. "It is not uncommon to hear about folks that don't know anything about camping because in our society now, we've become so sedentary. We've been linked to our computers so much that people just aren't getting out and recreating the way that they used to a few years ago."

The seminar is $50 for one adult and child between the ages of 5 and 12, and $10 for each additional family member. Reservations are required and space is limited, the news release states. Shenandoah National Park Association members will receive a 20 percent discount.

Cardwell said the seminar will teach participants how to pitch a tent, build a campfire, and prepare meals. Tents, cooking equipment and food will be provided.

"We're very excited about it . ... We still have plenty of room for this [seminar] and the one in July," Cardwell said. "We're not only going to have opportunities to learn different things, but we're going to have fun, too. We're going to be doing activities that involve the entire family that are just fun and enjoyable. We do make it as much fun as we can."

Park officials will host another camping seminar from July 18 to 19. For more information on the seminars, call 540-999-3500, ext. 3489. Complete seminar schedules are also available at www.nps.gov/shen.

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