Camping 101-South Texas Style Offered At Texas State Parks

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Lake Casa Blanca International State Park LAREDO, Texas — South Texas families who may have always wanted to go camping together, but weren’t sure how to go about it, are encouraged to consider bilingual weekend campouts this winter at state parks near the Texas central coast, the Laredo area and the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Earlier this year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began hosting Texas Outdoor Family workshops at state parks in the Houston and Austin areas. During the weekends, families get expert instruction on how to start enjoying the world of nature and the great outdoors.

This January and February, the program is expanding into South Texas, with workshops set for Jan. 10-11 at Goose Island State Park near Fulton, Jan. 24-25 at Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park near Mission, and Feb. 10-11 at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo.

“What’s great about Texas Outdoor family workshops is no experience or camping equipment is necessary,” said Chris Holmes, Texas State Parks outdoor programs coordinator.

“We recognize that many people in today’s increasingly urban culture don’t have the same skills or backgrounds as earlier generations of Texans. These weekend workshops offer a supportive environment where families can get started in safe and comfortable settings. And for these three South Texas workshops, we will have bilingual staff who speak Spanish on hand to make sure there are no language barriers.”

During the overnight Texas Outdoor Family program, families spend much of the weekend learning how to pitch a tent, cook outdoors, kayak and fish and also how to use a global positioning system (GPS) to navigate trails and locate hidden caches. The program also teaches participants about conservation ethics and introduces them to park rangers and what they do.

Each workshop costs $55 per family (up to six people), and includes individual car camping sites for each family, restrooms with hot showers, professional park ranger-led programs and instruction, overnight state park police officer public safety and security, a curriculum developed specifically for use and enjoyment of a state park, and state park Junior Ranger certification programs. The entire approach adopts a ’Leave No Trace’ philosophy and is environmentally friendly.

Families bring their own food for the two-day workshops, and a suggested shopping and packing lists for meals and personal items will be provided.

Visit the Texas Outdoor Family Web page for more information, including the complete schedule of weekend workshops. Check the web pages regularly, as new workshops continue to be added to the schedule.

Families can register by calling 512-389-8903 and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-to-6 p.m., or send e-mail to tofsp [at] tpwd [dot] state [dot] tx [dot] us anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with directions and details will be sent.