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Texas Outdoor Family Outdoor Leadership Training | Lake Somerville State Park (Application Open)

6:30p Fri, June 28, 2024 to 12:00p Sun, June 30, 2024
Alexa Brown
(512) 423-7335

The Texas Outdoor Family program provides 900+ families with a "Learn to Camp" experience in Texas State Parks each year. Could you help?


Gain confidence and build your resume as a volunteer outdoor educator! Assist Texas State Parks with overnight camping workshops with the Texas Outdoor Family Program.

This weekend-long training will take place at Lake Somerville State Park from June 28th-30th.

What is Texas Outdoor Family (TOF)?

TOF is a program designed by Texas State Parks to reintroduce people to the sport of camping by making it easy to try. TOF provides all the camping essentials for each family that has a reservation with us for our scheduled programs. This gear includes a quality tent, cots, sleeping pads, stove, lantern, pots, pans, and more! The program also includes demonstrations on how to use the gear and hosts recreational activities specific to the resources at each park. 

Through the years of hosting, the TOF program saw a demand that our staff couldn't keep up with. To help service this demand the TOF program created "community partnerships." These partnerships are with organizations that see value in sharing the outdoors with their audience and meet eligibility criteria. These criteria are any one of the following:

  1. The organization is a veterans service group  
  2. The organization's audience is made up of youth, of whom 50% are eligible for a free or reduced lunch.
  3. The partner organization has received a CO-OP grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife

What is the Outdoor Leadership Training?

Partner organizations are required to send a contact through the Outdoor Leadership Training to become prepared for hosting an overnight workshop and learn the "best practices" that TOF has established. This contact is responsible for scheduling their workshops with a TOF ranger. Once they've demonstrated their ability to provide a safe and fun experience, the partner takes over hosting the weekend. This is where you as a volunteer are especially helpful! Managing a group of families who are new to the outdoors, the gear, and the fun can be a big task. A few extra hands to manage gear and a few extra eyes to watch for safety is extremely valuable!

Who is this Training For?

Outdoor Leadership Training is designed to provide TOF Volunteers and Community Partner Leaders with hands-on experiences and scenarios to help them learn to facilitate overnight camping workshops at Texas State Parks. Volunteers also gain knowledge and programming skills to assist with interpretive and recreation programs for Texas State Parks.

TOF hosts public workshops led by State Park Rangers and partner workshops led by our partner organizations. These workshops take as many as 20 families camping in a weekend. This is a big job and we could use your help!  

TOF provides partner leaders with training specific to running successful camping workshops. No previous camping experience is necessary. Completion of the training is required of all partner groups and enables partners to borrow camping gear to lead workshops in nearby State Parks. Volunteers assist TPWD rangers and Texas Outdoor Family Community Partner groups in facilitating camping workshops. 

By attending the Texas Outdoor Family Leadership Training in the Central Texas area followed by 30 hours of volunteer work in state parks you will be certified as an Outdoor Leader with the Texas Outdoor Family program. Partner group representatives are asked to shadow a camping workshop prior to hosting their own.

This program is great for a professional resume, getting ready to lead your own group of friends on an outdoor adventure, or bolstering your volunteer toolkit.


Topics to be covered in this training include best practices in:

Outdoor Leadership

  • Safety and risk management
  • Liability and youth protection
  • Time management
  • Coordinating group activities
  • Working effectively with park staff
  • Gear maintenance
  • Learning styles
  • Understanding nature deficit disorder

Camping Skills

  • Setting up camp
  • Camping ethics
  • Campfire building

Outdoor Recreation and Interpretation

  • Interpretive themes and hikes
  • Fishing instruction
  • Stargazing and night activities
  • Junior Ranger activities
  • FUN!
  • And much more!


This training is free but space is incredibly limited. Priority is given to TOF community partner group leaders who will also be invited to this workshop.


Attendance of all dates and a continuation of 30 volunteer hours is mandatory for certification. Partner group representatives are expected to shadow a camping workshop prior to hosting their own. Partners and Volunteers must register on the TPWD volunteer site and record hours served on the site. To keep our participants safe, a background check will be conducted for each volunteer.

  • In-Field Portion: Two Consecutive Overnights - Friday, June 28th, 6:30 pm - noon Sunday, June 30th @ Lake Somerville State Park State Park. Campsite and entry fees are included in the training, please provide your own camping gear, food, and toiletries.

Record Keeping and Background Checks

Volunteers will be required to register on the TPWD volunteer site and record hours served. To keep our participants safe, a background check will be conducted for each volunteer. A link to the system will be provided when your application is approved.

FAQs/What's In It For Me?

  • Can I  bring my RV? TOF is a TENT camping program. Please leave your RVs at home. If you need to borrow a tent, just let us know. All Outdoor Leadership Training participants are expected to tent camp during the training as preparation for teaching new audiences to do the same.
  • Can I tent camp at the camping workshops, too? At future workshops, volunteers are often provided a free campsite which is shared with other volunteers and TOF staff.
  • Can I bring my family to Outdoor Leadership Training? Because this is a professional development opportunity with limited leisure time, we ask only selected participants to attend the training. If your significant other is interested in attending and volunteering, he or she should submit a separate application.
  • Can I bring my family with me to volunteer at camping workshops? Often, yes. There should be one additional adult in the group to manage the other family members when your service is required. In order to preserve our tents, pets are not allowed on TOF events. 
  • Can I use TOF's camping gear at the workshop? As part of our TOF workshops, most gear is loaned to the customer audience so our stock to loan to volunteers gets lean. For participating in this training we request that you provide your own. If that is a barrier to your participation, please reach out to the ranger noted at the bottom of the page and request what you need. We may be able to provide it for you to borrow. 
  • Is this training a professional atmosphere? Yes, but we have fun at training too! Dress code is "outdoor comfortable"
  • Can I arrive after 6:30 pm on Friday or leave before 12:00 pm on Sunday? No. We do not want you to miss any incredible information! We have a limited number of seats and those are reserved for participants who can attend the entire training. If this training doesn't work with your schedule, we will offer another one in Spring 2025. 
  • Am I expected to present anything? At the time of acceptance, we ask that participants sign up for a demonstration of a skill or game they'd play with a younger audience. This is to share activities among the crowd and demonstrate your presentation style.  This is not harshly graded, instead friendly critiques are offered. Example: Going over the 7 Leave No Trace principles in a fun way!
  • Share in a great experience with great people!
    • 99% of customers rate their experience with TOF as satisfied or very satisfied. 
    • Customers are asked: "on a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable would you going camping right now?" Average of answers before a workshop: 5.9. After a TOF workshop: 9.1
    • Customers are asked: "on a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you value Texas State Parks before the TOF workshop?" Average of answers: 6.8. After a TOF workshop: 9.6


Meals will not be provided. Participants are responsible for their own meals during the in-field portion of the training. Also, volunteers are responsible for their own meals during TOF events.

Submit your Application:

Fill out the application HERE. The application will close on Friday, May 24th. You will be notified of the status of your application by Friday, May 31st.

Questions? Email Alexa Brown