by KENYA CARTER
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, as part of the University of Mary Washington’s Homecoming week, Residence Life and Campus Recreation hosted the annual Big Ash Bonfire with the new addition of a campout. Approximately 150 students attended the bonfire and 35 camped overnight. The campout was especially successful due to lots of student interest, as registration leading up to the campout reached capacity and additional students were put on a waitlist.
The event started at 5:30 p.m. for students to begin setting up their tents before the night fell. As the members of Residence Life signed students in, the first 150 students who attended the event received mugs with a bonfire logo. Campus Recreation staff set up next to them, passing out blankets for all overnight campers with the same logo. During the event, a s’mores bar, popcorn, hot chocolate and apple cider were offered to all students that attended, and lawn games were available for students to play.
Upon joining the bonfire, students were welcomed by RAs and Campus Recreation staff that were eager to sign them in and help set up their tents. Later on, the Fredericksburg Fire Department got the night started by igniting the bonfire using wood palettes and a match. The Fire Department stayed to ensure the fire was safe, as the flame grew large and was the biggest I’ve \seen compared to the past few years.
Gathering around the bonfire, students helped keep the fire going by tossing in the wood palettes as they enjoyed their hot chocolate and roasted some marshmallows. The bonfire brought UMW students together to interact and socialize again due to the lack of interaction and events due to the pandemic.
Around 9:30 p.m., the fire department extinguished the fire as students prepared to settle into their tents. Each student that participated in the campout was given a sleeping bag to keep themself warm throughout the night. Many were excited to have such an experience and share the moment with their close friends. Despite the night being cold, this was UMW’s most successful bonfire in the past few years.