Service members and their families in the area can go camping even if they don’t have any gear thanks to OPERATION: CAMPOUT!
The Maryland Park Service has launched the new program which provides basic camping gear, free of charge, to service members and their families in and around the state. The initiative is funded in partnership with The North Face: Explore Your Parks, a program that encourages families to get outdoors and enjoy state parks across the country.
“We’re proud to once again partner with The North Face for an important initiative, which allows us to reach out to our servicemen and women, providing equipment for those who may want to try camping but don’t have the necessary gear,” said Maryland State Park’s Superintendent Nita Settina. “Maryland’s State Parks provide endless opportunities for people of every age to connect with nature, like hiking, climbing, running, biking and paddling, just to name a few.”
OPERATION: CAMPOUT! is currently offered at five State parks in Maryland: Swallow Falls, New Germany, Rocky Gap, Patapsco Valley, and Pocomoke River. The program is for service members, many of whom are stationed at nearby military installations or recovering at facilities across the State or in close proximity to Maryland. Each park is equipped with gear lockers stocked with essential equipment to camp – a six-person North Face tent, camp pads, chairs, a cook stove, a lantern and roasting sticks for marshmallows or hot dogs.
MPS has been in partnership with The North Face: Explore Your Parks since the program’s launch in 2010. Explore Your Parks was created to encourage Americans to get outside and enjoy the close-to-home recreation that State Parks offer. Through options such as Activity Guides, Park Passes, and Camping programs, Explore Your Parks helps people to discover the unique sights, activities, and wildlife within their own State Parks. More information and resources are available at www.exploreyourparks.com.
Service members who would like to participate in the program can reserve their campsite (prices vary by park) and camping gear (at no charge) by contacting the park directly:
• Swallow Falls State Park 301-387-6938
• New Germany State Park 301-895-5453
• Rocky Gap State Park 301-722-1480
• Patapsco Valley State Park 410-461-5005
• Pocomoke River State Park 410-632-2566
More information on the program is available at dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/armed_forces.asp.