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TPWD News Release — Feb. 5, 2010

Family Camping Workshops Offered in Austin Area This Spring

Camping in Texas can be a fun family outing, but it can also be an intimidating and daunting task for those who have never been. Thanks to the Texas Outdoor Family program, families have the chance to learn the basics of camping and enjoy the great outdoors.

The TOF program is hosting a number of camping workshops in state parks across Texas, including 10 in and around the Austin area. During these overnight workshops, participants learn the skills needed to survive outdoors, including how to set up and break down camp, how to start a fire, and outdoor cooking lessons.

In addition, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will provide all the camping equipment needed as well as lead a day’s worth of activities catered to all ages. Activities are specific to each park location and include trail exploration, nature activities and various outdoor activities.

"These workshops are great for people to be able to experience a new activity with the family that they maybe have never done before or not done in a long time," said Carlee Klattenhoff, the TOF outdoor education coordinator for Hill Country parks.

There are plenty of chances to take advantage of this unique opportunity in the Austin area. Buescher State Park, a companion park to Bastrop State Park, is hosting a workshop the weekend of Feb. 13-14. In addition to the nature activities offered at every park, campers will get a chance to learn how to kayak and how to fish.

They also will be introduced to the sport of geocaching, a high-tech scavenger hunt in which campers use Global Positioning System devices to find hidden treasures.

South Llano River State Park will hold a special themed workshop on Feb. 27-28 centered on introducing campers to fly fishing. Participants will learn the basics such as fly tying and casting, and then will be able to test their skills on the river themselves.

"They will be learning basic river ecology, what they’ll be fishing for," said Klattenhoff. "Then they are free to fish all of Saturday. On Sunday morning, there will be open fishing and folks available to help them out."

OtherTOF workshops in the area include Blanco State Park on March 6-7, Lake Somerville State Park on April 10-11, Inks Lake State Park on April 17-18, Enchanted Rock on May 8-9, Colorado Bend State Park on May 15-16, McKinney Falls State Park on May 22-23 and Palmetto State Park on May 29-30.

Each workshop costs $55 and covers the cost of up to six people, park entry, campsite rental, equipment, park ranger-led instruction, park-specific activities and a state park Junior Ranger certification program. All campers are asked to bring are a sleeping bag or bedding and food and drink. They also will be provided with a list of suggested items they could bring.

"There’s not a whole lot of investment into this because we provide the gear and instruction," said Klattenhoff. "It gives people the opportunity to be outside and utilize these state parks that belong to them; we hope it will open their eyes to this treasure they have, give them the opportunity to get out and do something fun and in a different setting."

For more information on the workshops and this spring’s schedule, visit the Texas Outdoor Family Web page. Families may 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 email to tofsp@tpwd.texas.gov anytime. After registration, a confirmation packet with details will be sent.

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