Outdoor recreation helps campers year-round

by Airman 1st Class William J. Blankenship
Air University Public Affairs

12/4/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --  -- Editor's Note- This is part three of a three part series.

The mild winters in the Southeast provide many opportunities for lovers of the great outdoors to indulge themselves with overnight camping trips in the Alabama wilderness.

For those who would like to experience camping for themselves but don't have the gear, the 42nd Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation rental office has everything they need to spend a night or two in the woods.

"You can still go camping, hiking or hunting in Alabama through December because temperatures are mostly above freezing all year around," said Nancy Henderson, outdoor recreation supervisory assistant.

Outdoor recreation, located in the Maxwell Mall near the military clothing sales store, has tents, backpacks, compasses and any other items that may be needed, said Henderson, a 35-year Alabama resident.

"It helps military families so they don't have to purchase equipment," she said. "They can just pick it up and drop it off when they are finished without having to store things at their homes."

After someone collects what they need, where to camp may be their next question.

Near Maxwell, there are several camping areas in state and national parks to choose from.

"Alabama has many good camping sites," said Henderson. "Lake Martin has many spots, and if someone at Maxwell did not want to go far away, they can use the FamCamp on base."

How rugged the camping experience turns out to be is up to the camper. Whether leisurely enjoying the use of a camper, huddled in a tent or staring up at the stars, camping can be a pastime long remembered.

"While stationed here, my family and I have gone camping in northern Alabama near Cherokee Rock Village," said Senior Airman Christopher Scardasis, Air University special actions technician. "It is a paradise for rock climbers in Alabama. We spent a weekend up in that area, sleeping in two tents."

While camping, the adventurous person can do multiple activities to experience the many facets of the Alabama wilderness.

"The first day we spent hiking and checking out different landmarks, such as waterfalls," said Scardasis. "The second day is when we got to go rock climbing, an unforgettable experience."

Camping can be a memorable experience for families.

"Some of my favorite memories, though, were just relaxing with my family by the campfire at night just talking about life and eating s 'mores," he said. "There is nothing like enjoying nature with loved ones."

Campers should use caution outdoors and remember that there are potential dangers that come with the experience.

"You need to know your area and your routes while camping," said Henderson. "Make sure you have a first aid kit and a cell phone for contacting people in an emergency. Having water and a backpack filled with supplies also would be good things to have."

Outdoor recreation is located at 206 West Selfridge St., bldg. 851. Call 953-9593 for information.