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Lathrop Parks & Rec plans community wide backyard campout this Saturday

Lathrop Parks and Recreation Director Zach Jones was hoping to have a community campout event this summer at a local park, but the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible.

So, with the backing of the city, Jones proposed the next best thing – shifting the event out of the park and into the backyards of individual homeowners.

With the financial support of the J.R. Simplot Company, the city will be holding the Lathrop Backyard Campout on the day and evening of Saturday, Aug. 8 – giving families the opportunity to leave the confines of the walls of home for the outdoor expanses of the backyard to sleep in tents and sleeping bags and participate in many of the activities that go along with it.

“It’s unfortunate that a lot of kids don’t have the opportunity to camp out in the wilderness, so we’re going to bring the experiencing of camping to them without having to leave the city,” Jones said. “Anything that we can do to help families get out and do something together is great – it might take people’s minds off of whole pandemic and give them a little bit of relief.”

According to Jones – who worked for a number of years at a camp near Lake Tahoe – the event is part of the city’s continuing effort to provide opportunities for residents in the dwindling recreation landscape amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

From shifting in-person recreation events to a digital environment to holding bingo and game nights on Facebook, the city has been striving to meet the residents’ needs for recreation while at the same time recognizing the reality of the pandemic that exists.

And for those that choose to participate in the backyard campout, the experience will be similar to spending time at a summer camp.

For $15, the city will provide an activity kit that will include camp songs, a scavenger hunt, mad libs, bingo, and stories as well as journals, mini flashlights, items to make s’mores, a City of Lathrop bag, fans, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer.

Coupled with a tent and some sleeping bags, Jones and his team and hoping to recreate the fun of group recreation outdoors but in the safe confines of individual households.

“Things are continuing to change every day, and some of the things that we think are going to be great end up not being possible, so we have to adapt them,” Jones said. “The numbers are continuing to grow, and so whatever we can do to encourage people to remain in just their households is something that we’re going to try and do.

“We want to encourage people to get outside and so something fun to take their mind off of the world but remain with their household at the same time and that’s something we think this event would be good for.”

The city is currently accepting pre-orders for activity kits for the event on Aug. 8, and the boxes will be available for pickup today through Aug. 7. Those that participate are encouraged to use the social media hashtag #LathropBackyardCampout for all of their Facebook and Instagram pictures. For more information visit the City of Lathrop’s Facebook page or call 209.941.7370.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.