In southwestern Colorado, the Great American Campout isn't necessarily meant to draw campers to state parks. Or to draw campers, although that's part of it.
No, it's more about camping with a purpose.
The 11th annual Great American Campout, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation - and in-state, in conjunction with Colorado Parks and Wildlife - runs through Sept. 7.
"The Great American Campout is a great way to get into nature while also 'camping for a cause,'" said Brian Kurzel, NWF's regional executive director. "By registering your camping event, Coloradans support the National Wildlife Federation's protection of our iconic wildlife while enjoying the things they love best."
And there is no cost to participate. Just go to www.nwf.org/Great-American-Campout.aspx and click on the "TAKE THE PLEDGE" tab and fill out the short survey regarding your campout. The NWF will donate $1 for every camper who participates up to $100,000 for ongoing efforts to protect the outdoors, wildlife and its habitat across the country. Donations also can be made via the website.
"We encourage our campers to learn about the program and register pledges to camp," said Scot Elder, park manager at Mancos State Park. "The mission is of getting more indifferent people out camping ... preaching to as many campers as we can. It's as simple as making that pledge."
Camping is the backbone of Mancos State Park, and Elder said the park campgrounds are pretty much booked through the summer.
"A camper can get on the website and register their pledge to camp - whether to pitch a tent in the backyard or come to Mancos State Park," he said. "The registration triggers a donation to the federation (NWF).
"Mancos (State Park) is a great place for the growth of the program in that we're making certain campers are aware of the program. There's certainly a growing awareness of the program because of so much personal interface with our campers. "