Brownsville program lets outdoor enthusiasts borrow gear for campouts

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The outdoor enthusiasts show in this undated photo are shown in kayaks they borrowed from a new city of Brownsville program. (Courtesy photo)

BROWNSVILLE — Wanna go camping?

How about kayaking?

Or fishing, or hiking or …

But it’s expensive, isn’t it?

No problem. Take a Community Campout with the city of Brownsville, and you can borrow all your camping gear free of charge from the city’s Borrow My Gear program.

“This program is brand new,” said Analisa Henrichson, activity specialist for the city of Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s the only one of its kind in the entire Valley,” Henrichson said. “We had a family of five come all the way from Corpus Christi to come and campout with us.”

Community Campouts is funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Co-op Grant. The first campout took place in September and the last one was Oct. 20.

“We had the STARS Society come out and they gave us a tour of the night sky, and that was super cool,” Henrichson said.

STARS is the South Texas Astronmal Society.

“We saw Jupiter and Saturn and the Moon,” she said. “Then we have axe throwing and kayaking and fishing. We had some people catch some catfish.”

This all requires a lot of gear and the Borrow My Gear is there to assist.

Campers can borrow tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, tarps and even kayaks for the trip which begins on a Friday night and continues through the next day.

Omar Flores, assistant scout master for Troop 11, brought several scouts to help with the most recent campout. He pointed out more fully the night hike where campers learn to identify nocturnal animals.

A program like this, he said, is especially important to get people back into the great outdoors after the COVID nightmare.

“When we heard about this program, we were excited as a Boys Scout troop,” Flores said. “These programs are great to re-instill the fun outdoor activities in our community. Scouts are always looking to help the community and any service project which this was just down our alley. We will be partnering up with them for all future campouts.”

Henrichson was delighted by the scouts being involved.

“They really helped us out this last community campout,” she said. “I got connected with Omar Flores through my boss Laura Holbrook and he brought his boy scouts out to help us kind of load our stuff there at the community campout.”

The campouts have the additional benefit of offering opportunities to earn merit badges.

Henrichson gave a special shout out to Holbrook, recreation community inclusion coordinator.

“My boss Laura is so forward thinking, she’s creative, she wants to bring a lot of these programs to Brownsville, not only to Brownsville but across the Valley,” Henrichson said.