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Additional Contacts: Rob McCorkle at 830.866.3533 or rob.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Chris Holmes at 979.229.2886 or chris.holmes@tpwd.texas.gov

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — July 10, 2009

Learn To Camp, Enjoy Outdoors at Texas State Parks This Fall

AUSTIN, Texas — The popular Texas Outdoor Family Program has released its fall campout dates for 24 state parks throughout the state.

During the overnight Texas Outdoor Family program, participants spend much of the weekend learning not only how to pitch a tent, cook outdoors and learn about nature, but also how to use a global positioning system (GPS) to navigate trails and locate hidden caches.

The workshops cost $55 per family (up to six people), and will include individual camp sites for each family, restrooms, professional park ranger-led programs and instruction, overnight park police officer patrols, a curriculum developed specifically for use and enjoyment of a state park, and a state park Junior Ranger certification program. The entire approach is ’Leave No Trace’ Certified so it’s environmentally friendly.

Since its inception in July 2008, the program has delivered 40 workshops throughout the state from Palo Duro and Caprock Canyon state parks in the Panhandle all they down to the World Birding Center headquarters at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in the Valley.

"There’s no experience or equipment necessary for these workshops," says Chris Holmes, the outdoor education coordinator for Texas State Parks. "We know there are lots of folks out there who simply want some hand holding to get comfortable and reacquainted with using the outdoors. Everyone is welcome, but sign up quick, because the workshops fill quickly."

Holmes says people who are apprehensive about taking their family into the outdoors for a camping trip will find this an excellent program. As one Texas Outdoor Family graduate said after attending the program at Brazos Bend State Park: "I personally had a fear of camping, but I truly had a great time! My kids also had a great time and didn’t want to leave! It was a fantastic family experience and we will definitely camp again."

TOF participants bring their own food for the two-day workshops, and receive a checklist of what they need to bring along with a suggested shopping and packing list for meals and personal items.

Activities offered differ with the individual park’s amenities and resources. Some events will include kayaking, fishing, nature crafts or other activities.

Check the TPWD Web site to see what activities occur at each event. Toyota has again come on board as a sponsor of Texas Outdoor Family, helping provide funding for equipment to make the weekend workshops possible. TPWD is seeking more sponsors who want to help introduce families to nature and the outdoors.

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.

Texas Outdoor Family is now on Facebook also where graduated families are encouraged to post their pictures and stories of their outdoor adventure.

Families can register by calling (512) 389-8903 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. and speaking to a Texas Outdoor Family representative or by sending an e-mail to tofsp@tpwd.texas.gov anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with details will be sent.

Fall Season Texas Outdoor Family:

Note Special Theme: Hike Texas’ Grand Canyon.

Note Special Theme: Beginners guide to river kayaking.

Note Special Theme: Introduction to Dutch Oven Cooking

Note Special Theme: Beach Camp

Note Special Theme: Reconnecting to Nature

Note Special Theme: Canoeing Back-Bayous

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