Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

In the National Forest Campgrounds and in the National Parks, seniors (age 62 and above) can buy a Senior Pass and get a 50% discount on camping fees and entrance fees. I have a Senior Pass and have used it across the country. From the back side of my pass:

*America the Beautiful*
The National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass

Lifetime Pass for US Citizen or permanent resident 62 years or older

Present in person. Valid at Federal recreation entrance or standard amenity fee sites for pass holder and occupants of single, private, non-commercial vehicle OR one motorcycle: OR pass holder and three persons (16 and older) where per person fees are charged. MAY entitle pass holder to some discounts. Blah, blah, etc.

On the national reservation web site, www.recreation.gov, there is a space to enter your senior pass number which gives you a 50% discount on camping fees.

Last week a young twenty something man appeared at my camp host site. He had a prothesis below the knee on his right leg. We chatted a bit about various camp sites and the fishing nearby. In the course of our chatting, it became clear that he was an Iraqi war veteran. Once I had told him where the blue gills, small mouth bass and walleyes were (just passing on gossip from other fishers) he asked about a site. I told him which ones were available and I told him that we had a 50% discount for Veterans so it would only cost him $7.50/night. He said he hadn’t heard of the program and wondered if it was new.

I told him that in fact ‘the program’ was so new that he was the first beneficiary. A stint in the military and probably a long journey through rehab had left him skeptical. I then told him that ‘the program’ was brand new because I had made it up while we were chatting. I told him that I wanted to thank him, and all vets for their service. He just happened to be the vet standing in my campground and the one who gave me the idea that if seniors deserved 50% off why on earth wouldn’t we give veterans 50% off too. He smiled and I told him, “Welcome to the Program.”

The phrase “Welcome to the Program” sent him into ROTFLMAO. He finally said. “I think this is the first time I’ve been glad to hear ‘welcome to the program.’ ” (This has been edited for family friendly language.) I told him his discount was I hoped first in a long line of veterans and campers who would maybe feel some of our collective gratitude and that I would write The White House and make the suggestion. He gave me a look that said, and you think someone will really read your email and just wave a magic wand and voila there will be a program?

“Well”, I told him, “maybe yes and maybe no but I know for sure that if I don’t write the email, no one in DC is going to think of it, so what have we got to lose?”

I have emailed The White House and copied my two Democratic Senators. Updates will follow.

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