Cool, Crisp Camping Weather Major Texas State Parks Draw

With summer vacations a distant memory, cooler temperatures on the horizon, and foliage morphing into dazzling shades of crimson and gold, autumn promises optimum camping conditions in a Texas State Park near you.

Whether you’re a novice to the outdoors or seasoned camper, there’s no better time of year to pitch a tent or park your RV on a sunny beach, beneath towering pines, or overlooking a sparkling lake at such destinations as Galveston Island, Buescher, and Possum Kingdom state parks, according to a news release.

“Fall’s a perfect time to camp out because of cooler evenings, but daytime temperatures typically remain warm enough to enjoy water-based activities like canoeing and fishing,” says Ky Harkey, Texas State Parks outdoor education team leader.

Harkey recommends campers focus on three priorities: safety, Leave No Trace camping practices, and simply having fun.

He says for visitor safety and the protection of the environment, set up camp only in designated camping sites. Campfires are great for enjoying quality family time, but to keep the forest healthy avoid collecting firewood. Don’t forget the marshmallows and playing cards to complete a perfect evening.

For those who have never camped or haven’t done so in many years, Harkey suggests participating in the Texas Outdoor Family program. Since its launch in 2008, the program has grown to include state parks across Texas and its workshops have expanded to meet the interests of curious campers.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The goals and objectives of the Texas Outdoor Family Workshop program include:

  • To teach traditional outdoor skills in a relaxed and pressure-free environment
  • To promote family-oriented recreation
  • To teach responsible use of city, county, state, and federal parks
  • To lead novice families in a genuine camping experience
  • To encourage volunteer teaching and sharing of experiences by local outdoor enthusiasts
  • To promote healthy, active lifestyles in our citizens

For only $65, families up to six can try a two-day workshop held at state parks throughout Texas that focus on teaching families how to set up a tent, cooking in the outdoors, and learning valuable outdoor skills, such as paddling, geocaching, and fishing.

Upcoming Texas Outdoor Family learn-to-camp programs include:

November 17 — Dinosaur Valley State Park (near DFW) – Special Theme – Dutch Oven Cooking

November 17 — Stephen F. Austin State Park (near Houston) – Special Theme – Buffalo Soldiers Living History

November 17 — Lake Casa Blanca State Park (South Texas)

December 1 — Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (near Austin)

December 1 — Brazos Bend State Park (near Houston)

December 8 — Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (near Austin)

December 8 — Lake Mineral Wells State Park (near DFW) – Special Rock Climbing Event & Cowboy Christmas celebration!

December 8 — Brazos Bend State Park (near Houston)

Details

Texas Outdoor Family (TOF)

Additional information and a complete schedule of the winter/spring Texas Outdoor Family program are available on the website.

Website: tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoorfamily

Worth Pondering…

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.
—Jack Kerouac

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Texas Outdoor Family Workshops

Have you wanted to take your family on a camping trip, but you didn’t feel you knew everything you might need to know to have a successful camping experience?

The Texas Outdoor Family (TOF) program is designed to teach you and your family the basic outdoor skills you need to enjoy a great overnight camping experience.

TOF, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) program, has taught nearly 2,000 families how to safely enjoy the outdoors by guiding them through basic outdoor skills needed for an overnight camping trip.

Since its launch in 2008, the program has grown to include state parks across Texas and its workshops have expanded to meet the interests of curious campers. Most participants have little to no camping experience, but at least 65 percent of them have visited a state park again after attending the camping workshops, according to TPWD.

The goals and objectives of the Texas Outdoor Family Workshop program include:

  • To teach traditional outdoor skills in a relaxed and pressure-free environment
  • To promote family-oriented recreation
  • To teach responsible use of city, county, state, and federal parks
  • To lead novice families in a genuine camping experience
  • To encourage volunteer teaching and sharing of experiences by local outdoor enthusiasts
  • To promote healthy, active lifestyles in our citizens

TOF workshops are hosted at state parks where your family receives hands-on experience learning basic outdoor skills. You will learn everything you need to create great memories enjoying the outdoors with your family, including:

  • How to set up and break down camp (including your tent)
  • Fire starting
  • Outdoor cooking
  • Guided walks
  • Nature activities
  • How to use a GPS
  • Geocaching
  • Introductions to a wide range of outdoor activities (such as fishing, kayaking, wildlife watching) depending on the site location, facilities, and the season of the year
  • No experience is necessary and you get all the help and advice you need from highly skilled outdoor specialists and trained volunteers
Texas Outdoor Family (TOF) workshops are hosted at state parks where your family receives hands-on experience learning basic outdoor skills. (Credit: tpwd.state.tx.us)

This upcoming season, the Texas Outdoor Family program plans to debut a new camping workshop that provides a screened shelter.

“This gives families who may not be ready to sleep in a tent yet an opportunity to get outdoors anyway,” said Owen, outdoor education specialist with Texas Outdoor Family. The screened shelters have a roof, concrete floor, and ceiling fans.

“Many families have ‘nature deficit disorder,’ and we’re trying to fight that,” Owen said. “We’re trying to provide a fun and enjoyable experience for people who think camping might seem hard or uncomfortable.”

Families learn, among other things, how to set up and break down a campsite, start a camp fire and cook outdoors. They also get introductions to kayaking, fishing and wildlife watching.

Family time is encouraged, says Lindsey Davis, program coordinator. “These workshops give families a chance to put all sorts of distractions away—work, school, electronic media,” she said. “It’s a chance to reconnect as a family.”

Families are provided with all camping gear. One-night stay workshops cost $65 per family (up to six people).

Upcoming Texas Outdoor Family learn-to-camp programs include:

February 11 — Estero Llano Grande State Park (Rio Grande Valley)

February 18 — Goose Island State Park (Gulf Coast)

February 24 — Lake Corpus Christi State Park (near Corpus Christi)

March 3 — Dinosaur Valley State Park (near Dallas-Fort Worth) and Brazos Bend State Park (near Houston)

March 23 — Lake Mineral Wells State Park (near Dallas-Fort Worth)

March 24 — Pedernales Falls State Park (near Austin)

March 31 — Cedar Hill State Park (near Dallas-Fort Worth) and Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site (near Houston)

Details

Texas Outdoor Family (TOF)

Additional information and a complete schedule of the winter/spring Texas Outdoor Family program are available on the website.

Website: tpwd.state.tx.us/outdoorfamily

Worth Pondering…
Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.

—Neil Armstrong

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