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Going outdoors to put others indoors

Tent-a-Thon 2010 to run Aug. 12 to 19 in Tawasentha Park

For most, sleeping outdoors is an enjoyable summer pastime. For those less fortunate, it's a possibility they hope will never come.

The Capital District Habitat for Humanity is hoping to combat one with the other this week, with its 17th annual Tent-a-Thon fundraiser.

Every year, campers gather in Tawasentha Park in Guilderland for seven nights of camping out. They share not only camaraderie and classic camping experiences like bonfires and s'mores, but a common goal to help eradicate homelessness.

We give up the comfort of our bed so people can get into their own homes, said organizer Tim Condon.

What participants don't have to give up is their daily lives. The Tent-a-Thon starts each evening at 6 p.m., when a dinner donated by a local restaurant is served. The Outback, 99 Restaurant, Mr. Subb, Pizza Hut, Inferno Pizza, the Metro Diner and others have all made contributions in the past. A large dining tent donated by Energy Insurance of East Greenbush shields everyone from the elements.

In the morning, breakfast is either provided on site or coupons to the McDonald's on Western Avenue are distributed, and campers can head out to their daily lives secure in the fact a volunteer from one of the participating area Methodist churches will be watching the tents during the day.

"During the day go we'll go home and just live our active lives," said Condon. "If it's during the week, we go to work."

Most people don't stay for the entire week " although there are some die-hards who stick it out every year.

The time between dinner and bedtime can be spent around a bonfire, telling stories and roasting s'mores. Something special is planned for every night, too. This year, on Sunday, an astronomer will be on hand to help campers read the night sky.

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