Just because you’ve never pitched a tent, cooked cowboy grub over an open fire or kayaked down a river—don’t let that stop you from experiencing what it’s like to go camping at a Texas State Park. For as little as $65, you and up to  five friends or family members can learn how to do all of these things under the mentorship of a park ranger. It’s part of the Texas Outdoor Family camping workshops sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

But, here’s fair warning: sign up early.  These group campouts will up fast since they’re only offered at a few parks on a rotating basis. Just to give you a sense of their popularity, 350 families signed up the first year they were offered in 2008. Now, the TPWD hosts about 900 families at these events each year. They say they’re not only a good way to help people enjoy the great outdoors, but are perfect for beginners who can learn the ropes without making any big equipment investments.

HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS:

  • Groups of up to 6 can sign up to participate. Each group gets its own campsite.
  • The cost is $65 per group for one day and night of camping; $85 for parks offering two days and nights.
  • The TPWD supplies the camping equipment, such as tents, cots, stoves, pans, utensils and lanterns.
  • Campers bring their own bedding, personal items and food. The TPWD website has a list of suggestions.
  • Park rangers stay with campers to help them use the equipment and learn camping skills. They also help campers explore any other activities available at the park, which can range from hiking, swimming and fishing to kayaking, rock climbing and geocaching (treasure hunting using GPS). In the evenings, group activities are often offered.

Find the adventure of your dreams at a Texas State Park. Learn more about how the Texas Outdoor Family program works and where workshops will be offered in 2017 by searching Texas Outdoor Family at www.tpwd.texas.gov.

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