For a first-time event, you could certainly expect some bugs — and not just the creepy-crawly kind — but outside of a downpour on Sunday morning, the inaugural Stay and Play Weekend went off without a hitch.
The free camping event, which was organized by the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Social Activities Committee, was held last weekend at the Pemi River Campground in Thornton and drew a couple dozen members and their families.
“We had a blast,” said member Susan Hallett-Cook, who brought her three children and two nieces. “People were just so outgoing and so friendly. There was no shop talk.”
Hallett-Cook, who works for the Department of Health and Human Services, said events like this one give people a different way to get comfortable with the union.
“I think once you start putting faces and names together, it makes the union a lot less overwhelming,” she said. “You don’t really know what you belong to until you put yourself out there.”
Hallett-Cook said there was plenty of food to enjoy, plenty of sparklers to go around and plenty of furry friends in attendance, too.
“It must be something about the union — it seems like we’re all dog people,” she said. While her family left their pup at home, she said, “let me tell you, we had no shortage of dogs to pet.”
Tammy Clark, an SEA director and chair of the Social Activities Committee, organized the event. She said all campers took part in the potluck dinner, but had especially high praise for Cheryl Towne, who brought enough food and supplies for a small army.
“Cheryl made eight pounds of beans, plus coleslaw and she three deep-fried turkeys,” Clark said. “She did a fantastic job. This couldn’t have been done without her leadership skills.”
Clark also noted that retiree Cathy Oikle checked people in and Ginger Dubois organized the potluck. Member Merith Deschene said it was obvious how much care and attention were put into organizing the event.
“It was a wonderful setup,” said Deschene, who brought her son and niece with her. “Everything was well-prepared, everything was easy.”
This event was free, with the Social Activities Committee covering the cost of renting out the field for camping. Deschene said it was so well done, she wouldn’t even have minded paying to take part.
“It was a wonderful treat to have it for free, though, with all of the great people and friends and solidarity,” Deschene said.
Hallett-Cook encouraged all members to take advantage of the social activities and discounts provided by the union. She said she’s even been using the Stay and Play event as a recruiting tool.
“I’ve told a couple of people here who aren’t full members that they should join so they can come next year,” she said.
Downpours arrived as campers were packing up on Sunday morning, but even that couldn’t spoil the mood.
“I think everyone that attended was tired on Sunday, but we were all happy,” Hallett-Cook said.
And ready to return for more fun next year.