‘Roughing it’ on Campus: A University Park Tradition

Camping out on the school grounds has become an annual tradition for University Park Elementary families – one where students don’t mind the extra hours on campus.

(ABOVE: Fathers and their children arrive ready to camp out at school. Courtesy photo)

“I think it’s fun to spend the night at school,” kindergartner Claire Nunley said.

Organizers expect the sixth annual UP All Night to bring out 300 families on April 27-28 for a range of activities aimed at building bonds between families and neighbors.

“My favorite part of the event is simply watching the kids have an absolute blast,” said Kate Nunley, Up All Night sponsorship chair and Claire’s mom. “The joy on their faces is priceless.”

Across the street in Curtis Park, activities will include laser tag, bumper ball, tree house bounce, dunk tank, dual slide, dodge ball, face painting, and arts and crafts.

“I Love UP All Night because it’s sooooooo much fun.” -Reed Neblett

After dinner comes live entertainment and sunset with students dancing the night away at the glow DJ dance party, watching a short movie, and then camping out under the stars.

“It is also a really fun bonding experience for the dads and family members that attend,” Nunley said. “This community is very close-knit, and I love the relationships that families build with one another while ‘roughing it’ in the city.”

The University Park Preschool Association puts on the event, which raises funds that go for teacher support, new technology, and other needs of the school.

Planning begins 10 months in advance and involves securing corporate sponsorships, which by mid-March numbered 57.

Committees meet to plan food, activities, registration, and sponsorships. Parent volunteers help out in all kinds of ways the week ahead of time.

“All of this would not happen without the support of our generous sponsors, volunteers, and our favorite UP principal, Candi Judd,” UPPA president Whitney Zappfe said.

In the weeks before the event, fun precursors, including a special students’ lunch and candy cups (fun cups with a “glow” straw filled to the brim with candy and coupons, help build anticipation for the big event.

“I Love UP All Night because it’s sooooooo much fun,” first-grader Reed Neblett said. “And I love staying up late with all my friends.”

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