Early in June the Shenandoah National Park Trust’s joint initiative with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club: Step Up to the Great Outdoors: From Neighborhood to National Park, brought a group of first-time campers to the park for an overnight and day hike. Led by Shenandoah Park Rangers, a group of young people from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in Charlottesville, Virginia learned about setting up camp, pitching tents and preparing a meal over the campfire. Young participants learned about nighttime creatures and sounds in the park and as one ranger reported: “chased after the lightning bugs and smelled the sweet air that only exists after dark.”
In the morning the group packed up camp and hiked up to Blackrock Canyon to take in the beautiful vistas. The “littles” (younger brother and sisters) were encouraged to write a postcard to their future selves about their visit, and many shared enthusiasm for camping, the natural beauty of the surroundings and future visits to their park. Watch this space for updates on additional visits sponsored by the Step Up program throughout the summer. The Step Up pilot program is made possible by a grant from The Charles Fund and donations of camping supplies from Walmart.