Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's Go Camping!

Years ago my husband read somewhere that the one thing all successful families have in common is not wealth or education or geography. It's camping. In his mind, therefore, we needed to camp to insure that we were growing a successful family. So we camped.

But after a few times of cleaning out tents and laundering sleeping bags and working to get the marshmallow out of everyone's hair, I put down my foot. Hiking, biking, fishing and all that are fine, I declared, but I insist on sleeping in a bed with sheets. And a functioning toilet close enough that I don't have to put on snake-proof boots to visit.

However...I did also say that camping would be perfect if someone else did all the work. I think Coleman read my mind because here is what's happening in our own backyard at the Lake of the Ozarks. And did I mention it's free? And there are prizes? And other people are doing all the work? All. The work. Count me in!

And we're hoping to count you in too. Here's the deal:

Coleman Great American Backyard Campout

What is it?  The Coleman Company, Inc. is hosting a private camping event for 15 families. I get to choose 4 of those families from my blog readers!
Why are they hosting this event?  Coleman has partnered with National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to sponsor this year’s Great American Backyard Campout. Coleman and NWF want to inspire parents to get their families outside, even if they’ve never camped before.

If I win, what do I get? The winners will receive a family ticket (for a family of up to five) to attend the Coleman Great American Backyard Campout event. You are responsible for your own transportation, so it’s better if you live close enough to drive. We won’t exclude you because of distance, though – if you’re willing to make the trip, you can enter! At the campout, you and your family will get:

  • A full campsite worth of Coleman gear for you to use at the event, and take home with you when it’s over
  • Horseback riding
  • Meals, recipes and outdoor cooking instruction from a local celebrity chef
  • Fishing instructions from a Shakespeare fishing pro fisherman
  • Stargazing with an astronomer
  • Live campfire sing-alongs with a local musician
  • Guided morning hike with a delicious breakfast at the destination
  • Easy ways your family can help the environment while camping from Leave No Trace
  • Lots of Coleman helpers to lend a hand if you have questions about the outdoors
  • Plenty of fun leisure activities, like a bean bag toss, Frisbee throwing, card games and more
My family has never been camping before. Can we still attend? Absolutely! This event is designed for campers who don’t have a lot of experience, or any experience at all. Plenty of Coleman folks will be available to give you a hand with your gear and answer any questions you may have. We’ll also have modern facilities and running water at the campsite, so there’s no need to worry about going too “extreme” your first time out.
Where is the event located, since I have to travel? Lake of the Ozarks Park, 403 Hwy 134, Kaiser, MO 65047-0170
When is it? The Great American Backyard Campout takes place on June 23, 2012. Coleman’s event will be taking place from 11 a.m. on June 23 until 10 a.m. on June 24.
What is the Great American Backyard Campout all about? Great American Backyard Campout is part of National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” movement, which is designed to provide tools that inspire parents and children to spend time in the outdoors. Over the next three years, NWF’s goal is to get 10 million more kids playing outside on a regular basis. Spending a night under the stars is the perfect way to start.

Here's how the contest works

In 100 words or less, tell me these things:

  • Your name, phone number and email address. We’ll only call or email you if you’re a winner, and we won’t disclose your info to anyone else.
  • If you’re willing to travel to the event location on June 23.
  • Why your family would like to attend the campout.

On June 8, I’ll be selecting 4 winners from the entries I receive from you. I’ll inform the winners individually, and we’ll coordinate with Coleman to get you everything you need before the campout.

If you have any questions about the contest, let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out from Coleman and get back to you as soon as I can.

Shoot me an email at with your entry and hopefully I'll see you around the campfire on June 23! I'll be the one there relaxing while someone else cooks. And leads the singing. And points out the stars. And guides the hiking.

Now if I can just find someone to come home with me and launder those sleeping bags.

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