Campers love first campout at Heritage Park

Above, campers begin to roast marshmallows en route to making s’mores at the Great Heritage Park Campout. Below, Cody Howick of Lincoln Park devours one as the campfire burns.

Photos by Dave Gorgon

Photos by Dave Gorgon

City to make it an annual event

TAYLOR — Jesse and Linda Kriebel wanted to take their children camping, but weren’t sure how it would go.

As soon as they discovered that the city would be holding the Great Heritage Park Campout in late June, they signed up right away.

“With young children, we thought it would be a good test run for camping,” said Jesse Kriebel, a captain with the city’s Fire Department. “We live so close that we could run home if we needed to. This was kind of like camping out in your backyard, but with more stuff to do.”

The Kriebels paid $23 for one of the 50 campsites made available by the city in an area of the park known as “the bean field.” Campers – who totaled 188 – had the option of setting up tents or small campers.

Included in the deal were such activities as kickball, nature walks, fishing at the park’s Coan Lake, arts and crafts, s’mores, flying discs, stargazing and more.

Taylor musicians Renee and Oscar Sosa led campers in a sing-along around a campfire. Taylor author Cathy Carroll read her children’s book “Lukas.” Kriebel, known to many children around town as “Firefighter Jesse,” gave a talk about campfire safety.

Campers were fed hot dogs, chips and pop for dinner on Saturday and had a pancake breakfast the following morning.

“We’ve had fun every second since we got here,” said Trenton resident Kim O’Neill, who learned about the campout by reading a local newspaper. “It’s a great event. There’s stuff to do all day.

“We haven’t even been able to sit in our camp chairs. It keeps going and going.”

The Heritage Park event was held in conjunction with the Great American Campout promoted by the National Wildlife Federation.

Doug McTurner of Taylor camped with his wife, Krystle, and 3-year-old daughter, Alyssa. Krystle said she was surprised the campout offered canoeing on Coan Lake.

Paul Wilson of Wyandotte had one of the larger camping groups – 15 in his immediate and extended family.

“We did the kickball and canoeing – some did crafts and the nature hike,” he said. “We enjoyed ourselves.”

Wilson said the weekend was “economical,” and his wife, Lisa, suggested that canoeing be available all summer long.”

“The kids enjoyed it,” she said. “It’s not that expensive and there was no time limit.”

Soni Fogt learned about the campout in the city newsletter, Taylor Info, and attended with daughters Sabrinia Borieo and Nicole Fogt-Smith and grandchildren Abagail Borieo, Kaleb Smith and Morgan Smith.

“We thought it would be a nice way for the cousins to get together and camp,” Fogt said. “We loved everything about it, but the canoe ride was a hit.”

The campout attracted families with children of all ages. Caroline Stinson attended with sons Nick, age 20, and Andrew, 5; daughter Robyn, 15; and Robyn’s friend Cortney, 13.

“We went to the campout because I knew that it would be a nice one-night outing for the family and (would be) kid friendly,” Stinson said. “There were a lot of activities and games for the kids to play. Nick challenged the kids to tug of war: Nick against about 10 boys and girls. The kids ended up winning. It was very fun to watch.”

She said son Andrew was happy to see Firefighter Jesse at the campfire talking about fire safety.

“What I liked best about the day was hearing all the laughter and families enjoying being together,” Stinson said. “I would definitely go to the campout again.”

Taylor resident Christy Franko, who organizes The Little Peanut Playgroup, said she scours local communities for fun activities to share with group members. She felt her sons, 3-year-old Ian and 2-year-old Isaac, would enjoy camping at Heritage Park.

Franko and her husband, Nick, brought a family-size tent, camp chairs, an airbed for the adults and cots for the boys. She packed a cooler with extra food for lunch and dinner, snacks and drinks – and even brought a small portable tabletop-size grill to cook hot dogs and Jiffy Pop popcorn the youngsters could enjoy while watching a movie on a laptop computer.

“We brought their bikes to ride during the events that we felt weren’t quite right for us, like canoeing,” Franko said. “We did bring other toys for them, but we didn’t need them because Parks and Recreation provided such a great assortment of games to play in the grassy area in front of the tents.

“I can’t say enough great things about this event. I loved the whole day – real quality time spent with the family – and that there were activities for all ages to enjoy. I will be telling everyone in our playgroup about how wonderful this event was organized and all of the great activities there were to enjoy. I really hope the city of Taylor is already starting the planning for this event next year.”

Staff from the city’s Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation was at the park throughout the campout, overseeing activities and providing security.

Deputy Director Dennis McDermott said the camp spaces sold out early. Parks staff sprayed the bean field with mosquito repellent Friday night and again Saturday morning before campers arrived.

He said campers suggested the city make it last even longer next time – and there will indeed be a next time as the city plans to make the campout an annual event.

“The staff is really happy with the turnout,” McDermott said. “It was a perfect night.”

As for the Kriebel children – son Nathan, age 6, and daughter Isabelle, 3 – they had a blast.

“Our family had a great time,” Linda Kriebel said. “It’s always nice to get some family time in when everyone is so busy and working so much.

“Family time is very important in our house, so we are glad that the city of Taylor was able to bring another event into the city for us to enjoy. It was fun, safe and educational – and a nice trial run for our little ones.”