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"It’s not unusual to be a little intimidated to take the first step," says Ky Harkey, Outdoor Education team lead for Texas State Parks. "But once you do, it can open up a lifetime of adventure for you and your family."
During the overnight workshops, families learn the basic skills of pitching a tent and cooking outdoors, but workshops also focus on how to enjoy the parks through activities like kayaking, fishing, and geocaching – an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS technology. Participants also learn how to protect their state parks through good stewardship and "Leave No Trace” principles.
"Our first family camping trip was an overwhelming success,” says Tony Williams, TOF graduate and father of two from San Antonio. “My family now has the camping bug! It keeps the boys away from the ‘screens’ and gets them more active.”
“In a time when kids are six times more likely to play a video game than ride a bike or play outside, we’re proud to offer the first step to helping families get outdoors and enjoy their state parks,” says Harkey.
The cost of workshops starts at $65 per family (up to six people), and includes camping fees, instruction from rangers, equipment rentals, and all gear except food and bedding. Families with no experience can show up with a few recommended household items and the rest of the weekend will be coordinated by program staff.
About Texas Outdoor Family
Texas Outdoor Family is a proactive program aimed at encouraging children and their decision makers (parents or guardians) to get outdoors and enjoy state parks. The Texas Outdoor Family Program began in 2006 as an outreach and education effort offered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to address “Nature Deficit Disorder,” a term coined by author Richard Louv to describe the growing disconnect between families and nature. The Texas Outdoor Family program has helped more than 2,500 families reconnect to state parks since its inception and has been replicated by several other states.
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