Under the stars on Meetinghouse Hill, churchgoers and girl scouts gather

The First Parish Church in Dorchester and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts are holding their third annual Backyard Campout on Saturday, June 26. The event, which will be held from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. on the grounds of the church, will be staged in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Backyard Campout, a national-wide event that strives to expose America’s youth to the outdoors.

For the past two years, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts have taken part in the GABC on the grounds of the First Parish Church, located on 10 Parish Street in Meetinghouse Hill. They recognize the importance in the NWF’s message and have once again forfeited their summer camping trip to offer this opportunity to the entire community. The event is not strictly for girl scouts. The doors are open to anyone who is interested in having a good old-fashioned campout under the stars.

The church will only be open for the use of restrooms and possibly a tour of the facility, so be prepared for the complete outdoor experience. There will be a grill present, though more are always welcome. Due to limited resources, campers are encouraged to bring at least enough food for their own party. A fire pit will also be there so the campers can gather around and tell spooky, and friendly, campfire stories.

The NWF recognizes that today’s youth spend inordinate amounts of time indoors, especially in comparison to past generations. Recent studies have shown that the time spent indoors and in front of electronic devices such as televisions and computers can lead directly to health issues like poor vision and obesity. These issues did not plague former generations, who spent their childhoods running around outdoors from sunrise until they were hollered in for dinner. In an effort to combat this unhealthy trend, the NWF pleads with parents to bring their kids outdoors and help them experience the childhood they are missing out on. The GABC, held annually on the fourth Saturday of June, is their attempt to provide a fun, we’re-all-in-this-together opportunity for parents to give the outdoors back to their children.

The NWF offers many pre-camping options via its campout website, .backyardcampout.org. The website has links for fun recipes such as Armpit Fudge and activities like the Nature Scavenger Hunt. It also has an option for donations that go into the NWF’s “Be Out There” movement. To donate, register individually, then either donate directly or join team “Meetinghouse Hill” to add to the community’s donation pool.

Donations are completely optional.

“I didn’t want to turn people away by asking for money,” says Susan Brackett, team leader and a full-time Girl Scout leader for the last 30 years, “I just want people to come and have fun.”

Brackett is hoping that this year someone may come that knows how to play guitar so that everyone could take part in a sing-a-long as well. She also stresses that the lack of a tent should not discourage those who would like to take part, as people are often times willing to bring extras.

Brackett and the rest of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts are keen to spread the wealth of the outdoors, so feel free to grab a sleeping bag and head out to the First Parish Church on June 26th. For more information regarding registration or what to bring, please call Susan Brackett at 617-997-9450.