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Saturday, June 25 was a glorious day and night at the 2016 Hopewell Community Campout. 218 people, 44 families, Boy Scout Troop 71, Hopewell Valley Girl Scouts and the Hopewell Council of Churches were among those who pitched tents on D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve. Folks ranging from experienced campers to first-time ground sleepers set up tents and spent a gorgeous night under the stars.

An inspiration of Hopewell Borough Recreation and jointly hosted with D&R Greenway Land Trust and the Hopewell Valley YMCA, it was a very successful fourth Campout. However, success does not just happen. It takes planning and on-the-ground work. It also takes neighbors bringing tents, picnic suppers and a spirit of adventure to make it a success. We would like to thank all the campers who came to share the land, make fairy houses, scavenge for natural treasure, hike the trails, eat s’mores around the campfire, learn about “Nature at Night”, view the night sky through telescopes and sleep under the stars.

Campers enjoying the Campfire and s’mores at dusk
Campers enjoying the Campfire and s’mores at dusk

Many volunteers played a significant role and we would like to thank them here. Special thanks to Sue Dayner, Kate Elliot and Stephanie Patterson for helping out at check-in. We would not have had our s’mores or our delicious breakfast without the Hopewell Council of Churches – thank you! Thank you also for organizing Planting with Purpose, the Nature Scavenger Hunt and a sunrise Meditation of Gratitude and Community.

The joy of roasting marshmallows
The joy of roasting marshmallows

Thanks to Laurie Cleveland, Heidi Wilenius, Tracy Petrillo and the Hopewell Valley Girl Scouts for organizing fairy houses and rainbow tag and representing the work of naturalist Jenn Rogers who tutored the scouts earlier in the week. The Girl Scouts conducted four stations of “Nature at Night” to teach about the sights and sounds of nature in the dark. You guys did a fantastic job!

Rob and Pam Flory joined us as walk-leaders this year, leading a hike on the diverse terrain of D&R Greenway’s Aunt Molly Trail. Thanks for the guidance and a walk in the shade. The Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton brought their knowledge and telescopes sharing the night sky with campers. This year, we had four sophisticated telescopes with amazingly knowledgeable amateur astronomers.  Thank you, Thank you.  Also new this year was a delightful sunrise yoga session led by Monica DeAntonio of Nomad Yoga Company.

Hopewell Boy Scout Troop 71, under the leadership of Tom Finn, Tom Dallessio and Cliff Klimas were the first campers to arrive and the last to leave. They deserve a large serving of gratitude for helping the 44 families load-in and load-out, set up tents and offer scout activities. They prepared the fabulous campfire, creating a safe atmosphere under questionable conditions. We sincerely appreciate their commitment and hard work in making this campout a success.

Thanks are due to Hopewell Borough Administration, Hopewell Borough Fire Department and the Department of Public Works for their assistance. And finally thanks to the D&R Greenway staff who spent their time preparing the land, driving the truck, tractor and wagon, gathering sticks, creating signs and working behind the scenes so that we, as a community could experience this beautiful preserved farmland and open space.

As co-chairs we are honored to be a part of Hopewell, where we all share an appreciation of the beauty of nature and a deep commitment to community. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend.

Rachel Webster

Leslie Davis Potter

Doug Pszczolkowski

Sunset campout photo by MercerMe publisher Mary Galioto
Sunset campout photo by MercerMe publisher Mary Galioto

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