Folly Family Camp Out lets families spend the night on the beach
by Jenny Peterson | Staff Writer
On Saturday March 7, Folly Beach kids and their families will be able to have a special Folly Beach experience like no other.
The Folly Family Camp Out – an event sponsored by the Folly Beach Civic Club – will let families set up a tent right on the beach at the Folly Beach County Park for a true nature experience.
The city gave the organization special permission, and lifted its rules about camping, for this event for one night only.
Families will bring their own camping supplies to the beachfront park and set up for a night of wholesome, free family fun, including nature walks at dusk, a star-gazing constellation scavenger hunt, fireside storytelling, eating S’mores and more.
The Folly Beach County Park is on the far west end of the island. It’s rich with wildlife, situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River.
Check-in for camping will begin at 2 p.m. on March 7 and check out will be no later than 11 a.m. on March 8. During the daylight hours, there will be sand castle building and beach games like sand hopscotch. Each child will be given a complimentary flashlight to explore the area when the sun sets.
The idea was sparked by families living on Folly, said Katherine Houghton, president of the Civic Club.
“Some children on Folly Beach had never been camping before,” said Houghton. “We wanted to do something that families asked for and that they have been missing out on.”
Children and families are asked to leave their electronics at home and to enjoy Folly Beach in a way not often experienced.
“It’s really ‘night and day’ on Folly Beach between day and night,” Houghton said. “And that goes for children and adults. It’s a whole different learning experience.”
The Civic Club got a special variance from the city council to allow camping on the beach for the Folly Family Camp Out and worked with the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission about getting access to the newly-renovated bathroom facilities and deck area at the beachfront park.
“We are looking into getting speakers to educate the group about the animal life and marine life and their natural habitat,” Houghton said.
To ensure safety, the number of tent sites is capped at 25, and a public safety officer will patrol overnight and set up blocks on the beach to prohibit walkers from venturing into the county park area that night. An adult must accompany children all night, and a member of the Civic Club will be present at all times.
There is no cost to participate in the Family Camp Out, and the fee to get into the county park will be waived for campers. It is important to note that advanced online registration is required. The event is open to Folly Beach residents and family members of city employees.
Thanks to fundraising efforts by the Civic Club, each child will receive a T-shirt, dinner and a small breakfast the next morning.
“It’s a great way to meet your neighbors,” Houghton said.
Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said he hopes this inaugural event will become an annual event that families look forward to each year.
“I looked forward to it being successful,” he said. “I have fond memories when I went camping back when we went to a one-room cabin. You got out of the city and saw things at night you’ve never seen before. Hopefully these kids will get into it and learn about the environment and the beach. Maybe in future years it will get even bigger than 25 families in this family-oriented event. “
“The support of the Folly Beach community is making this event possible,” Houghton said.
Food donations from local restaurants for dinner and breakfast and a $300 donation from Dunes Properties will allow each participant to get a T-shirt and other goodies.
“We really appreciate our partnerships; the goal is to bring the community together,” Houghton said.
Applications to participate will be available online at the city website at www.cityoffollybeach.com starting Saturday, Feb. 1 and the club hopes to have all participants registered by Saturday, Feb. 8.
Once all of the sites are reserved, applicants will go on a wait-list. Participants will be required to attend an event briefing Feb. 22. At least one adult from each family must attend.
Campers must be registered by Saturday, Feb. 8. For questions, or to donate to the effort, contact Katherine Houghton at firstname.lastname@example.org.