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Dads, girls enjoy 4th annual Father/Daughter campout

NATCHEZ — People often envision campouts as a father-son bonding experience, but several local dads are making the effort to get the girls outside.

On April 10, John Holyoak, together with five other dads, took their daughters to Elgin for a 24-hour outside-only campout. Holyoak said it was the group’s fourth year in a row to take their girls to the campsite.

“This is an annual thing we do that started out as a father/son deal,” Holyoak said. “But all the boys have grown up, and my daughter Mae always heard the campout stories, so she kept pushing me to do a father/daughter campout.”

With an entire group of people on-hand, Holyoak said camping duties are divided up between both the dads and daughters.

“Some of them are old enough to make their own tent,” Holyoak said. “With the fathers, one would cook breakfast, while another would do S’mores.

“Everyone has an assignment, and we never have to go inside for anything. That’s our goal, to be outside for 24 hours. That usually starts around noon Saturday, since that’s around when everyone wakes up.”

And it’s making sure everyone stays outside that is the focal point of the weekend trip, Holyoak said.

“I don’t want to sound cliché, but I grew up outside, and the rest of the dads did too. With the technology and everything else that kids have today, playing outside is a lost art.”

But it’s something this group of dads and daughters seems to enjoy, Holyoak said.

“I think the fathers enjoy it just as much as the girls, and these girls have even enjoyed it more than the boys did,” Holyoak said.

“The girls are also easier to camp with then the boys were. With the girls, they’ll maybe just go inside their tent and giggle. The boys would want to pee on the campfire and play with the campfire. They both enjoyed doing it, but camping with the boys got a little annoying.”

In addition to campfire activities, the group also climbs down a ravine and hikes the creek bed at the bottom. Dennis Hogue, who camps with his daughter Emma each year, said the hike helps to get the girls worn out by the end of the day.

“We do it while there’s still a fair amount of daylight,” Hogue said. “Sometimes we’ll find a vine they can use to jump down a cliff. We’ll dare the girls to jump this cliff or that cliff. We just wear them down.”

Both dads said the campout suits their daughters’ taste in being outside.

“Doing this helps them have an appreciation for the outdoors,” Holyoak said. “I know my daughter spends a lot of time outdoors, anyway. She’s very active outdoors.”

Hogue also said his daughter took after him in that regard.

“She’s definitely daddy’s girl, and a fun lover of the outdoors,” Hogue said. “I think it’s rubbed off on her from me. At first, I did this as an excuse to go camping, but over the years, I really do enjoy seeing the look in her eyes when she reminds me about the campout three weeks before it happens.”

And if Hogue had his way, he said he would do it more than once a year.

“We ought to do it twice a year at least,” he said. “It doesn’t happen enough.”

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