Camping Out Under the Stars at Joshua Tree National Park

Milky Way behind the silhouette of a Joshua Tree
– Srini Sundarrajan, Share the Experience

"Is this a national park, or a different planet?” That’s what the kids were saying as they entered the Indian Cove Campground at Joshua Tree National Park for the inaugural Coleman Campout.

The landscape at Joshua Tree is out of this world. The famous Joshua trees have spiked leaves, and the desert terrain is speckled with heaps of massive boulders, as if each hill was dropped out of the sky. Some say the park feels like another planet, others say it resembles a movie set, but everyone is in awe of the spectacular natural beauty.

Sunset landscape of Joshua Tree, National Park

In celebration of its partnership with the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service Centennial, The Coleman Company, Inc. brought 40 kids from a local Boys & Girls Club to experience the magnificent beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. Most of the kids had never been camping or put up a tent before, and some had never even been to a national park.

To help ensure a meaningful experience for the youth and their families Coleman created an exciting itinerary of activities and also provided the necessary camping gear and taught the youth how to use it.

Image of campout at Coleman National Park

The campout’s activities ranged from guided hikes, lawn games, and rock climbing and scrambling – by far the kids’ favorite activities.

Rock wall for rock climbing at Coleman National Park

The campsite was in the center of a magical, out-of-this-world playground of boulders just waiting to be climbed on. Kids had a blast climbing and exploring the boulders, and discovering nooks and tiny caves.

Cluster of Camping Tents at Coleman National Park

Guides were brought in to set up top-rope climbing, belaying, and teach the kids climbing basics, so they could scale the larger rocks and slopes. Guided hikes were led by a Joshua Tree ranger to teach the kids about the rock formations and the native wildlife, which of course included a bit of rock scrambling as well.

Group of Jagged Rocks w/ Blue Sky at Coleman National Park

As the sun began to set over the rocks, kids and parents gathered around the fire pit to snack on s’mores and sing campfire songs.

Campout at Joshua Tree National Park with campfire and guitars

Another Joshua Tree ranger stopped by with a telescope to show the kids a closer look at stars, planets, and the moon. The night ended with the kids singing along with the acoustic music until it was time for lights out, when the campground went silent except for the peaceful desert breeze.

In the morning there was more rock climbing and scrambling, followed by packing up and heading home. But the youth did not go empty handed. Coleman provided all of the camping gear for the weekend [over $30,000 worth], and then donated it to Boys & Girls Club to take with them so they may continue to enjoy and discover the beauty of America’s national parks.

The National Park Foundation and Coleman are encouraging everyone to get out there and explore all that the nation's treasures have to offer. By showing youth the magic of camping for the first time and helping them find their park, they hope to inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, and park stewards and supporters.

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