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5 common camping mistakes to avoid

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If you’re going camping this summer, make sure to plan ahead. It’s all too easy to forget a key detail and then suffer the consequences. To ensure you have a terrific time, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Choosing the wrong campground
Do your research to find a campground that checks all your boxes. In particular, consider the amenities you want. This may include laundry facilities, a pool, a tennis court, or lake access. You should also consider what type of camping spot you’d like, whether it’s a secluded area in the forest or a shared campsite with a community feel.

2. Bringing gear that doesn’t work
Inspect all your equipment to make sure it’s in good condition. If you have any new gear, familiarize yourself with it in advance. For example, run through setting up a new tent in your backyard.

3. Being ill-prepared for the weather
Check the weather forecast and prepare for all eventualities. Even if there’s only a small chance of rain, play it safe and bring rain gear such as a poncho, rain boots, and a tarp. Keep in mind that the temperature can dip at night.


4. Leaving your first aid kit at home
You should always take along a first aid kit. It should have all the items you need to handle cuts, abrasions, injuries, and aches. Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring things you can use to repair your tent if need be such as tape, rope, and a needle and thread.

5. Taking local wildlife for granted
Determine what types of animals inhabit the area where your campground is located and learn how to react if you encounter them (bears, coyotes, moose, and others). Also, you should find out how to avoid attracting local wildlife to your campsite.

Additionally, be sure to arrive while the sun’s still up. It can be difficult to find your campsite, put up your tent, and locate the bathroom in the dark.

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Micro-volunteering: Be someone’s eyes for two minutes

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Here is a fantastic way to help people wherever you are, whenever you have the time — by micro-volunteering.

Be My Eyes is an app that connects sighted people to the blind. Using video calling technology, volunteers can answer simple questions that require a pair of eyes.

Hans Jorgen Wiberg, a Danish furniture craftsman who is visually impaired, realized that blind and low-vision people often needed help with everyday tasks. He also knew that video calling was already being used by the blind. They typically called friends and family by video for help with simple questions like What is in this can? What is the expiration date on this food? Is this a red or a black sweater? Being able to easily get answers to these simple questions offers a lot of independence.

The problem is that regular helpers are not always available, and there is the issue of wearing out one’s welcome. What Wiberg realized was that the world was full of people who could help at times. So in 2012, he launched his Be My Eyes startup to connect people with volunteers from across the globe.


Today, nearly 6 million volunteers help with questions from about a half million blind and low-vision people. The app is available in 150 countries and 180 languages.

Anonymous sighted volunteers can take a call whenever they have time. They can pass if they don’t have time, and another volunteer gets the call. Meanwhile, anonymous users can ask simple and fast questions.

Be My Eyes has also started ramping up specialized support. One of the top areas is tech support, which sometimes requires knowledge as much as sight. Microsoft, Google, and others are helping to solve issues like broken screen readers or setting up email accounts.

But there is also support for more personal, sensitive questions that the caller may not want to ask a family member: The results of a pregnancy test or fertility test, for example. The Clearblue Careline can step in to help privately in those cases.

Pasta maker Barilla uses the app to help with pasta questions. And Rite Aid pharmacy answers questions about prescriptions and helps people read medicine bottles.

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4 clever tips for organizing your locker

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Back to school means getting a new locker, especially in high school. If you’re a student, here are four suggestions to help you organize your locker.

1. Choose sturdy accessories. Use sturdy storage containers you don’t have to replace every year. This way, you’ll stay organized and won’t have to spend money on new ones next year.

2. Buy shelves. Some shelves are designed to hang from the permanent shelf in your locker. You can also get ones made of fabric, which have extra pockets on the sides to maximize storage. Additionally, metal or plastic ones can be placed in the bottom of the locker to keep your bags separate from your boots and shoes.

3. Maximize door usage. Magnetic accessories are extremely practical. For example, you can use baskets to organize pencils and other small objects. A dry-erase board or magnets can help you keep important notes like appointment times and exam schedules in sight.


4. Arrange supplies wisely. Keep binders for each subject in alphabetical order to find what you need at a glance. Keep the matching textbooks nearby to save time before class.

Visit your local shops to stock up on everything you need.

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There’s a song in your heart! Sing it out!

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It’s Saturday night, and a guy who calls himself Mr. Charley is belting out Frank Sinatra tune, telling us, “That’s Life.”

After Mr. Charley sits down, a young woman with purple hair gets up to sing an Adele song.

She’s followed by a lady yodeling, “I Wanna be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” — it is so unexpected and well done that the crowd goes wild.

Welcome to Karaoke. If you have a song in your heart, you can sing it out. Or, you can just be a fan.


In every city and every burg, there is someplace you can sing along to your favorite tunes — or watch someone else do it. There are good and bad singers, familiar tunes and some you forgot or never knew. Regulars fans get to know the singers and each other. It is like a weekly social event.

If you haven’t been to karaoke, you can search online for events in your area. Smaller venues, usually bars, have a more intimate audience. Bigger venues tend to attract better singers but can be more impersonal. Show up early to get the best seats. When the show starts, applaud every singer and give newbies encouragement.

If you want to try out your vocals, practice at home first. Rehearse a high-energy song and a slower song. The later it gets, the less likely that a long, slow ballad will be appreciated. You can listen and practice your songs on sites such as Sunfly or Ameritz.

You will give your name and song to the karaoke DJ when you get to the venue. These days, most every song is available, but in some cases, the choice can be limited to songs listed in a book.

When you are called to the front, sing with confidence, and when finished, go immediately to your seat. Making a speech to the audience or lingering up front is frowned upon.

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Love deserves a bit of work

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People sometimes feel that they have lost control of their relationships, either following the birth of a child or simply because time has passed. Therefore, it’s very important to take the time, as a couple, to stop for a few minutes to discuss the situation. Investing in your relationship can only bring positive results.

Establish your priorities first. You should both make a list of what is essential to your happiness and the things on which you refuse to compromise. Then specify what would be a bonus to your well-being. When you know exactly what you want, you can sit down together and discuss what improvements can be made.

Keep in mind that in a couple, one party should never have to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the other, nor feel a need to demean the other to enhance their own image. Maintaining the three fundamental basics of a strong relationship is vital: You, your partner, and your couple. These three different entities each have their reasons for existing. Everyone has his or her own individuality, and your relationship has its own personality. It is important, therefore, to maintain your own distinctiveness and not let the other rub off on you.

When a problem becomes apparent, instead of blaming your partner, first look at yourself. People often accuse others of being something they are themselves. The term for this is projection. Couples should always avoid engaging in this type of behavior.


Finally, don’t hesitate to meet with a mediator or a marriage counselor. They have the necessary expertise to help you find concrete solutions.

You should never be afraid of investing in a relationship to help it be happy and successful. Take the necessary time and make use of available resources.

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Back-to-school homework tips

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Nobody’s perfect, and that includes kids when it’s time for homework. Procrastination can lead to after-dinner battles and evening scrambles to get assigned work done before bedtime. But homework doesn’t have to provoke anxiety every day — try a few of these tips to make homework easier and less stressful for everyone.

  • Designate a space for homework, like a corner in a quiet room or the dining room table. Limit distractions from siblings or screens to help them focus on their work.
  • Check-in with them before they start. If they have a large amount of work to complete in one night, help them create an action plan to reduce their anxiety and help them work more efficiently.
  • Be present. Hang around nearby with a book or some of your own work and be available for questions or to offer praise and encouragement.
  • Ask for outside help if necessary. If your child is struggling with their homework and you can’t help them on your own, reach out to their teacher to discuss the situation.
  • Schedule study and homework time. Set up a schedule that works best for your child, including playtime. Some kids function best right after school, while others need a break so they can attack it after dinner.
  • Make sure your kids do their own work. Guidance and suggestions are great, but don’t complete assignments for your child — it defeats the purpose.
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State fairs are new each year, but they were born in a millennium past

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Our modern state fairs feature various agricultural displays, competitions, races, and entertainment. They are an annual event attended by hundreds of thousands of people. But when did all of this begin?

How about 14,000 years ago — or even before that? In China, the Rites of Chow-li, a fair-like event, dates from the 12th century B.C. In Mexico, the Aztecs had festivals and fairs a few centuries later. In Greece, the Olympic Games were primarily athletic, but trade was conducted at the same time for grain, linens, carpets, and furniture.

The word “fair” is believed to originate from the Latin word feriae, meaning festival or holiday. From the fifth century of the Christian era, fairs were held in Champagne in France. Early medieval festivals were held in the seventh century in Rome, Antwerp, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Madrid, and the British Isles, according to Collier’s Encyclopedia.

Trade conducted at early fairs resulted in benefits that have survived from antiquity. For example, the modern system of Troy weights is derived from the system employed at the medieval fair in Troyes. Some historians say paper money originated as promissory notes between merchants at these fairs.


Medieval fairs were governed by laws enforced by their own officials and courts. The laws maintained peace and order, enforced quality standards for trade goods, and prevented fraud. The guarantee of freedom of attendance and honest trading at French fairs led to a pledge all merchants had to make “to keep the peace and to deal honestly.”

The first fair in the U.S. took place in New Haven, CT, in 1644 and was devoted to the exhibition of livestock and agricultural products. Other early fairs were held in New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland, and South Carolina.

Two of the oldest state fairs started in 1841 in New Brunswick, NJ, and Syracuse, NY. Other states soon held their own state fairs.

The fair you attend now was born at the dawn of recorded history.

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Upcoming Events

Aug
17
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 17 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Aug
18
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7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Appalachian Chamber Music Festiv... @ Barns of Rose Hill
Aug 18 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival - Opening Night @ Barns of Rose Hill
The Appalachian Chamber Music Festival is delighted to be returning to the Barns of Rose Hill on Thursday, August 18, at 7pm, for the opening night concert of our 2022 summer season. The festival celebrates[...]
Aug
19
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6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 19 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
Aug
20
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11:00 am National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 20 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
National Honeybee Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area The bees are buzzing at Sky Meadows State Park! Meet the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah as they perform a honey extraction. Learn about beekeeping, honeybees and the art of apiculture. Support beekeeping and[...]
Aug
21
Sun
12:00 pm Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 21 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Meet the Beekeepers @ Sky Meadows State Park
Carriage Barn in the Historic Area. What’s that buzzing? Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah (BONS) and discover the art of Apiculture (a.k.a. Beekeeping). This monthly program series examines all aspects[...]
Aug
23
Tue
3:00 pm Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Aug 23 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale Audition Day @ Calvary Episcopal Church
If you have choral-singing experience, you’re invited to join The Valley Chorale! Rehearsals this fall culminate in our always-popular Christmas concerts in December. This year, we have a truly fantastic Christmas program planned. Auditions are[...]
Aug
24
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6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Aug 24 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Aug
25
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7:00 pm Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Aug 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Appalachian Chamber Music Festival @ Middleburg Community Center
Join the Appalachian Chamber Music Festival on Thursday, August 25, at 7:00 pm, for a concert at Middleburg Community Center as part of their 2022 Festival! ACMF brings this concert of festival highlights to the[...]
Aug
26
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6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Aug 26 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
…and be sure to attend our Fourth of July event!
Aug
27
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10:00 am Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summe... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 27 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Habitat Detectives: A Late-Summer Children's Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Join Virginia Master Naturalist and teacher, Barbara Ermler, on a walk of exploration. Use your five senses to uncover clues to how various organisms – plants, animals, and more – work together[...]