RVing at Special Events: Square Dance Campouts

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Trail on in! Square dancers gather for weekend special events called “campouts,” filling the parking lot with RVs and the hall with music and laughter.

A Square Dance campout gets people of all ages together for dancing, fellowship, and camping fun. The event is generally hosted by a local square dance club, sometimes with the support of a community group, and the cost is minimal ($15 or $20 per person for the whole weekend). Although the event is usually held at a country hall or rural school, any campground with a shelter can be used, and outdoor dancing is not uncommon, weather permitting.

One of the wonderful things about having an RV is that it provides comfortable temporary accommodations at special events such this. Family gatherings, sports tournaments, flea markets, activity conventions, Samborees, and the like all draw people to a central location, and while some participants may stay in local hotels/motels, the special events planners usually arrange a place for RV parking.

Square dancers find camping so much fun that theres even a National Square Dance Camping Association that organizes an annual international camporee, with local chapters also hosting camping events.

RV Camping at a Square Dance Campout

The space allotted for RV camping will generally be the parking lot of the school or hall where the event is held. These lots are usually firm and level, though they may be soft during extended rainy weather

  • There is generally no charge for camping at a square dance campout; if there is, it will be a nominal fee of a few dollars a night, to cover grounds maintenance.
  • This is dry camping or boondocking. Potable water can generally be found at a tap on the side of the hall somewhere, but no other services are available, so come with black/grey tanks empty.
  • Friday afternoon and evening and Saturday morning are the set-up times.
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Events at a Square Dance Campout

As a sample, here is the event list from an upcoming Alberta campout. This is typical of local dancing camps. Most of the activities, to no ones surprise, involve square dancing. But the campout aspect adds special fun and flavor. The weekend campout fee usually includes all or most of the following activities and events.

  • Trail-in Dance – This casual-dress Friday evening dance is a “catchment” activity that people can join as they arrive. Campers will pull in, set up, then join the dance in progress. There may be an additional fee, usually $5 per person, for the Trail-in Dance.
  • Saturday Socializing and Games – These take place in whatever open space is available, such as the school playground or the halls ball field. Event planners may have organized games, craft tables, and presentations for Saturday morning, but often the campers themselves set up whatever theyre carrying in the RV. Common games include beanbag baseball, washoos, camp golf, bocce, croquet, softball, volleyball and the like, depending on the age and interests of the dancers.
  • Saturday Lunch – Seldom an organized activity, campers collect in small groups in front of their RVs to barbeque, or go visit a nearby town or restaurant.
  • Saturday Square/Round Dance Workshops – The callers (for square dance) and cuers (for round dance) will teach or review specific moves and present them from a variety of starting positions and in different combinations to help extend the dancers skills.
  • Saturday Supper – Usually a potluck (pooled meal) where everybody brings something, but sometimes catered by the hall committee where the event takes place.
  • Saturday Night Dance – The main event for all dancers, usually from 7:00 or 7:30 to 10:00.
  • After Dance – A campfire and singalong is a frequent activity, sometimes with skits or prepared entertainment.
  • Sunday Breakfast – A catered breakfast, usually prepared by the members of the club hosting the campout, is common.
  • Trail-out Dance – After breakfast, a short two-hour dance is held. Some will pack up, come to dance for a while, and then head out; others will dance the full time then pack up after lunch.
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Generally, its all over by noon on Sunday – except for the cleanup and the memories!