Outdoor Recreation has camping equipment covered
By Wendy Brown, Fort Bliss Bugle Managing Editor:
(El Paso, Texas, April 20, 2017) When it comes to deciding where to go camping while stationed at Fort Bliss, the options start with the 26,627-acre Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso – the largest urban park in the country. Hueco Tanks State Park in El Paso also offers several camping sites.
When it comes to going camping properly equipped, however, Outdoor Recreation, a division of Fort Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, is the place to go. They have Department of Defense identification cardholders covered with a whole range of equipment for rent by the night.
“We have enough tents and sleeping bags for pretty much everyone,” said Brian Arnold, a recreation assistant for Outdoor Recreation at the Roberto Loeza Soldier Activity Center here. “I have about 60 tents back there and about 80 sleeping bags, so we normally don’t do reservations. It’s basically first-come, first-served.”
For example, a two-to-three person tent rents for $8 a night, sleeping bags rent for $6 a night and a backpacking stove for $4. The entire list, which includes everything from various sized tents to cook sets to lanterns, is available with prices on the Outdoor Recreation website at https://bliss.armymwr.com/us/bliss/programs/outdoor-recreation. Scroll down and click on equipment rental.
In addition to El Paso’s state parks, the SAC has a board that features maps of places throughout Texas and New Mexico where people can go camping. Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico is popular among Soldiers, Arnold said.
“You can do boating out there and fishing,” Arnold said. “You can pretty much do everything out there.”
Outdoor Recreation staff members are happy to make recommendations, Arnold said, and the organization hosts camping trips. The next one is a family camping trip to White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, New Mexico, June 10 and 11. Reservations are necessary. The organization also has trips planned to Big Bend National Park in Texas and other locations in the Southwest.
Joey McDaniel, also a recreation assistant for Outdoor Recreation, said the trips can be a helpful way to learn about the area.
“If you’re new to El Paso and you want to learn a little bit more about the area and what type of outdoor recreation activities El Paso has to offer, we offer some great trips to show people around,” McDaniel said.
The camping equipment can also help people who want to see if camping is for them or don’t immediately have the money to buy a large piece of equipment, McDaniel said.
“I think it’s a great thing to go outside and appreciate the outdoors and it’s a great thing if you’re able to come in and utilize our camping gear without having to go and buy your own camping gear, because camping gear can be pretty pricey,” McDaniel said.
For Spc. Jose Morales, assigned to the 356th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit in Las Cruces, New Mexico, renting a tent April 13 for his backpacking trip to the bottom of the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona made more sense than buying one.
“I don’t go camping a lot,” Morales said. “If I were to buy a tent that would mean that I would be going constantly, probably at least once a month. In reality, I’m probably going to go today and I’m probably not going to go back again until next year.”
To learn more, Fort Bliss is holding an Outdoor Expo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the multi-purpose field at the Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Center. Several local organizations will be on hand to inform people about a variety of outdoor venues in the area, and Outdoor Recreation representatives will discuss upcoming trips and equipment. Call 744-1532 for more information.
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