Oxnard– The inaugural Great Oxnard Campout was a resounding success Saturday, April 23, as residents filled College Park and enjoyed a night full of activities under the stars.
THE event, held in partnership with the California State Parks Fam Camp Program, brought people to the park ready to enjoy some fun and, for some, experience camping for the first time.
Attendees came armed with camping gear, but rookies didn’t have to worry if they didn’t have anything to camp with, as the organizers loaned plenty of free equipment.
Recreation Supervisor Janice Zaragoza was thrilled to see the park fill up with campers.
“We are giving a camping experience to Oxnard families, and you don’t need prior experience,” she said. “We have our Mobile Activities Center, known as“ The MAC, ”we have arts and crafts and a scavenger hunt going on, and we’re going to have a movie, The Little Rascals, which will be shown on the huge screen. We’ll have our Jolly Jumpers up and running. ”
She said campers could also enjoy some s’mores cooked on a fire pit.
“Oxnard Recreation has partnered with the California State Parks for several years, and we attend Camp Training, Youth Leadership Training, and Fam Camp Training, where the staff gets trained,” she said. “Out of State Parks, where we usually go to Castaic Lake once a year, and then we come back in that same year, and we take youth there with trained staff. It’s really nice, and we thought, why don’t we have a Great Campout, where we can have families come out for free and enjoy one night of camping with their families. ”
She said people brought their own food, and they used the fire pits in the outside area of the park to cook.
“We make the s’mores for the residents and participants,” Zaragoza said.
Janice loves camping and said the California State Parks make camping enjoyable.
“Prior to that, I wasn’t much of a camping expert, and I’m no novice anymore,” she said. “They also let us borrow the equipment, so if you don’t have any equipment, you can check it out for free.”
Mechanics Bank sponsored the campout.
Jason (Janice’s husband) is bringing her kids.
“They’re going to be here, and we’re going to set up right here,” Janice said. “He’s going to have the kids the majority of the time while I’m helping run the event.”
Luis loves working with the community and setting the event up at the park.
“I might bring my tent out and camp with the rest of them,” he said.
Julie Garcia from City Corps enjoyed the evening and worked busily at the MAC.
“I’m making a Birdhouse right now,” she said. “This is what we’re going to show for the presentation, and they can use this as an example. I did not make this, but I am painting it. ”
She said the event was a great opportunity for the community and students and said City Corps is lots of fun.
“I do the afterschool program, so I’m always around kids,” she said. “The kids see a bunch of arts and crafts, and they want to join.”
Community Services Manager Jessy Tapia said Julie went to the training at Lake Castaic.
“This is great,” Tapia said. “We’ve been planning this since before the pandemic. We wanted to have an opportunity for people who don’t normally go camping to have a safe place where they can do it. We have City Corps out here and a lot of programs providing services for kids. We’re able to provide with State Parks, tents, and canopies to stay over. ”
Youngster Jazlyn Barajas was busy making a bear with her Kiddie dough.
“It’s fun to play with,” she said.
Martha Diaz is a parent having a great time with her family, and the group enjoyed playing Giant Jenga.
“We usually have the small one (Jenga) at home, and we don’t usually get the chance to play with the jumbo-sized one,” she said. “We had a birthday party to go to this weekend, and I saw someone share a post on Instagram, so we decided to do this and see what happens. A camping experience is nice for the kids. ”
Carlos Valdez said he enjoyed the first real camping trip they’ve had as a family.
“I hope we get a good night’s rest,” he said. “We’re sleeping on the ground. We’re going to play it by ear and see if the kids enjoy it. ”
Cynthia Gonzales loves the outdoors and couldn’t pass up the opportunity at College Park.
“They’re going to have all kinds of stuff for the kids, the s’mores, the crafts, and all the activities for the kids,” she said.
The family has owned their tent for five years and admits they love camping.
“I love nature,” she said. “We do the Big Foot scary story at night, and the kids love it.”
Jose Rocha was busy setting up camp and jumped at the chance to go camping.
“It’s outside,” he said. “I want to roast marshmallows and have s’mores.”
He used to camp a lot but got away from the activity when he got older.
“This will inspire me to start going outside more,” he said. “I like nature.”
California Parks Deputy Director for Community Engagement Sedrick Mitchell welcomed the crowd and made sure they got started in the right direction.
“This is an awesome experience, and we’ve been looking forward to this for some time now,” he said. “It’s the vision of the recreation division to bring the community out to bond and enjoy nature. It’s something we want to see throughout the state. ”
He came with a team that is very experienced at setting up tents and giving rookies instruction.
“We handle camps that we do for doing that very purpose of teaching people how to camp, enjoy nature and become leaders in the outdoors and develop communication skills as well as practical camping skills and bond and engage with others.”
He said people who catch the camping bug at the free event have many options to explore.
“We want people to come out and enjoy themselves,” he said. “We work with organizations and try to get them trained so they can train others.”
For more information, visit parks.ca.gov/oci.