MetroPark’s Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience at Eastwood

Photo: Riders learn how to balance and handle their bikes without the risk of major injury

By Nick Hrkman

The Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience (OutdoorX) on Oct. 7 and 8 bills itself as the premier outdoor adventure festival in the Midwest. If there are two groups that get more adventure out of OutdoorX than any other, it’s local scout groups.

The Miami Valley Council Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of Western Ohio converge on Eastwood MetroPark to camp, try new recreational opportunities, learn survival tricks from the Backpacker Magazine Outdoor School, buy the latest gear from big-name exhibitors, and meet thousands of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts.

“We knew a lot [of] our troops were already going, so a few years ago we decided to coordinate a weekend where troops from different districts could camp together,” says Justin Lowrie, Wright Brothers District Camping Chair for the Boy Scouts of America.

Booth space at the event’s Youth Adventure Zone allows each group to recruit new members. Last year, the Boy Scouts held STEM demonstrations which included a hovercraft made from a CD, water bottle cap and balloon, while the Girl Scouts held knot-tying classes that teach attendees different knot styles and their uses.

The Girl Scouts hope to change the minds of those who see the organization as indoor- and cookie-focused.

“Girls and Girls Scouts have the opportunity to do everything that goes on at OutdoorX,” says Vicki Proctor, outdoor program team lead for the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. “We do camping, we do kayaking – we do it all. We’re very involved in getting young girls into the outdoors along a progression. They work their way from bug collecting all the way up to week-long backpacking and kayaking trips.”

Camping at the event, scout or not, is a great way to take in all the action and still have a place near the festivities to retreat to and relax. The tent campground is conveniently located right outside the event in grassy fields and features oversized camping plots for tent camping, pop-up campers, and group camping. A limited number of spots for small campers are also available at Eastwood Lake. Camping is free for everyone and registration begins at noon on Friday, Oct. 6 and ends Sunday at 8 p.m.

Scouts set up campfires each night, complete with s’mores, and are free to roam the event grounds each day to try their hand at slacklining, stand up paddle boarding, rock climbing, kayaking, and more.

Camping is also available year-round. Five Rivers MetroParks welcomes groups, families or individuals to explore their wild sides by spending a night under the stars at one of 23 campsites. Five Rivers MetroParks offers front country campsites that are easily accessible by car and hike-in backcountry sites for the more adventurous camper. Both offer a way to unplug for just a short drive from home. Making camping reservations online is easy – visit www.metroparks.org/easy to find the perfect campsite or shelter.

Event attendees can check out the latest in camping gear from local retailers and manufacturers in the Exhibitor Village, and can hunt for bargains in the Used Gear Area, and pick up lightly used outdoor recreation-related equipment or earn some extra cash by selling their own gear. A portion of consignment fees will be donated to support Leave No Trace, a non-profit organization that educates people about their recreational impact on nature.

“OutdoorX is awesome because of the variety of groups that attend and the number hands-on activities available,” Proctor says. “People don’t realize what’s available in the Dayton area. OutdoorX gives them a chance to find out.”

Wagner Subaru Outdoor Experience, presented by KIND, is Saturday, October 7 from 11 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. & Sunday, October 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Eastwood MetroPark. Admission is free; food and beverages available for purchase. For more information visit www.OutdoorX.org.

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Nick Hrkman
Reach DCP freelance writer Nick Hrkman at NickHrkman@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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