MIDLAND On May 21, campers across the country will participate in the National Backyard Campout, put on by the organization Trail Life USA.
With COVID-19 forcing numerous cancellations on camping trips around the world, Trail Life USA is trying to encourage families to make memories during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“With everything that’s going on with the virus, it was just encouragement for the kids to get out and do stuff,” Midland troop 1911 Trail Life USA leader Joshua Leeper said. “As human beings, we’re social and it’s hard to do a different routine than what you’re used to, whether it’s going to school during the day or work and then all of sudden, doing a 180 and not seeing those people so this is an encouragement to get people to go out and actually do something. We don’t have to be together in order to camp out or do an activity. We can just simply participate with our families in the backyard.”
Leeper said that one of the benefits of this campout is for families to get a chance to spend time with each other in ways that they can be introduced to different skills.
“A lot of times, we’re just together as a troop,” Leeper said. “The families know what’s going on but at the same time, it gives them a chance to do basic (camping) stuff like setting up a tent. Setting up a campfire and just giving them an opportunity. It’s also more of an encouragement to just get out and do things.”
Trail Life USA is an organization that is similar to the Boy Scouts of America and was created in 2013.
It is a Christian-based organization that currently has over 30,000 members in 830-plus troops across all 50 states.
According to Leeper, there are about 18 members, all ranging from kindergarten to sophomores in high school, in Midland’s Troop 1911.
While most places have since reopened after shutting down last year, Leeper says their troop has continued to proceed with caution when doing activities and meetings.
The troop meets twice every month and are usually outdoors for their meetings.
Last year, they, along with every organization, were forced to shut down for a little bit after the pandemic reached North America.
“Well, at the beginning, everything was so unknown so we just shut down as everything did,” Leeper said. “We actually meet in a barn so I’d say the majority of our meetings are outside, in a barn. We’re outside doing stuff. We rarely meet indoors. When it was freezing, we didn’t meet.”
The organization is encouraging families to share their own moments with others from camping via photo and video posts and are also urged to respect all emergency restrictions in their area, including self-isolating and social distancing from non-family members, according to a press release from its website.