The gates at 22 Sand Hill Road were open past long past 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night, a special occurrence, as the Willows Swim Club hosted their first-ever family campout.
Kids competed in inflatable raft races in the pool, pizza was served in the pavilion, marshmallows were roasted on the shuffleboard courts, and tents were pitched in the back field.
About 50 campers, kids aged 7 to 12 and parents, enjoyed the facilities after hours on the beautiful June night. Each camper paid a small fee to spend the night, to supplement the cost of food and the fun evening activities.
“I grew up at a pool and I did tons of campouts as a kid,” said Maggie Mnych, Willows member and event organizer. “They were really fond memories and I just wanted my daughter, and the other kids, to have that here.”
Some activities during the evening included water races, a water balloon toss, a water coin toss, a movie, and s’mores making.
Mnych and Tom Gleason suggested the idea to the Willows volunteer Board of Trustees last season, but it was too late in the season to pursue the idea, Mnych said. The idea was presented again at the beginning of this season, and the Board fully supported the idea of a campout, Mnych said.
President of the Willows Board Florette Laurizio said the Board thought the campout was an awesome idea and a great way to engage the members.
“Mrs. Mnych and Mr. Gleason came up with the entire plan for the activities for the evening and [the Board] whole-heartedly supports it,” Laurizio said.
The Willows Board wanted to encourage non-members to participate in the campout, hoping that they would enjoy the facilities and want to join the club after spending the night, Mnych said.
Joseph Hobbs, a member of the Willows Swim Club for the past eight years, said he, his wife, and his two children, enjoyed the campout.
As a Cub Scout Leader, Hobbs said he and his son camp a lot, but Saturday night was the first time they were camping as a family.
Tents were pitched in the back field and each family labeled their temporary home with a self-made flag.
“It’s a great club and we have all this land and [I thought] it would be perfect for a campout,” Mnych said.
Two young campers, Lauren and Danielle, said their favorite part of the campout was getting to sleep in a tent.
“This would be great if this was the start to a new tradition for the Willows,” Laurizio said. “I’d love to see this be an annual event and I’d love to see it get bigger and bigger.”