Neighbors rolled out sleeping bags, pitched tents and camped on the Kentlands Clubhouse lawn Sept. 21 as part of the third annual Kentlands Campout event.
Saturday was a hot and sticky day, but an estimated 160 people braved the elements to sleep under the stars during the sold-out event. Around 40 tents of all shapes and sizes dotted the lawn outside the Kentlands’ pool for an outdoor activity that organizers say brings families together.
“We’re lucky to live in a community with events like this,” said volunteer John Ingrassia. “People can enjoy time together, conversation and friendship.”
Ingrassia, who has lived in Kentlands for 18 years, was in charge of grilling 100 hamburgers and 150 hotdogs. For a $10 registration fee, families at the campout are served dinner, enjoy evening s’mores around a bonfire and wake up to a pancake breakfast.
Kentlands resident and organizer Reynaldo Rojas, who occasionally goes hiking and camping with his son’s Boy Scout troop, brought the campout idea to the Kentlands Activities Committee three years ago. It was immediately approved.
“I was looking for something that the whole family would enjoy, would laugh about, would smile about,” Rojas said. “I put together that there’s a beautiful space on the Kentlands Clubhouse lawn, so I saw the opportunity there.”
Rojas, John and Dayna Ingrassia, and Laura Douglas from the Community Management Corporation spend months planning the overnight event that offers both adults and children the opportunity to hang out with their friends.
It’s a way for kids to have a night of fun without electronics, according to Douglas. Plus, nothing brings people together like sleeping two feet away from neighbors and strangers.
“Adults can bring their chairs, food, drink, sit down and relax, get together with other people in the community—their neighbors—and we become campers,” Rojas said.
Daniel Joelsson, a frequent backpacker and Kentlands resident, arrived at the Clubhouse at 9 a.m. to set up his tent. It’s Joelsson’s first year at the campout and the first time his children, ages 8 and 10, have gone camping. Joelsson’s tent is pitched next to his friends’ tents, creating a “little compound” that will later have more than 20 chairs set up in a circle for friends to relax and hang out.
“It’s a great way to get everyone together outside and not be stuck in a house all day,” Joelsson said. “I’m thankful we can do this.”
For Rojas, seeing children excited about sleeping outside and residents excited to enjoy a laid-back event and meet new neighbors is what the campout is all about.
“I see through these activities we’re building a stronger community,” Rojas said.