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Camping Under the Stars: Hundreds brave cold to camp out

Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, reads to children during Camping Under the Stars on West Beach at Lake Tholocco Nov. 14. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, reads to children during Camping Under the Stars on West Beach at Lake Tholocco Nov. 14. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: November 21, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2014) -- More than a hundred Soldiers and family members braved the wind and cold Nov. 14 for a night under the Alabama stars as part of Fort Rucker’s tribute to its military family members during Month of the Military Family.

Families gathered along West Beach at Lake Tholocco and warmed up by the campfire for a night of s’mores, storytelling and movies during the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Camping Under the Stars, which featured a special story time by Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, who enjoyed his second year reading during the event.

“These kids pump me up with the way they react to the books and how they get into it, and it just makes you appreciate the job that we have,” he said. “Families have got to have time together and these are good opportunities for the kids to spend time with their parents, and when you have conditions like we have tonight (cold temperatures) it really drives them close.”

Blue Star Families, a military family support organization, was on hand to provide free Disney books to families after the reading, and the most popular book that was given out was “Brave.”

“It’s one of my favorite stories,” said Lacy George, military family member. “I’m glad we got to come out tonight so I could get this book and spend some time with my family.”

Lacy’s mother, Stephanie, said she was more than happy to bring her children to Camping Under the Stars because it’s not something they get to participate in often.

“We’re not a big outdoors family, so I thought this would be a good chance for us to do something different, so I’m glad that they have things like this on Fort Rucker,” she said. “Although it’s a bit cold, we’ve been having a great time snuggling up next to the fire, and the free books for my kids doesn’t hurt.”

After story time, the families were able to enjoy the showing of two movies, “Frozen,” a crowd favorite that had children singing along all night, and “The Lego Movie.”

“’Frozen’ is my favorite movie,” said Lacy. “I love to watch Elsa and Anna an Olaf.”

Providing an opportunity for families to get together and spend quality time together is important to maintaining healthy Army families, said McRae, and with a busy Army life, it can oftentimes be difficult for families to find time to spend together. That’s why it’s important to provide a way for families to get together and share a special memory, he added.

“I grew up camping my whole life, and camping is just an experience that’s a great opportunity for families to bond and have a special time,” said the garrison commander. “These are memories that the kids will never forget.”

“The community, especially our military families, deserves events like this,” said Brian Jackson, DFMWR events manager. “It not only satisfies a need, but it provides a different event that is right here on base.”

This article was originally published at

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