Texas Outdoor Family Community Partnerships

Group people camping at Inks Lake State Park with the Texas Outdoor Family.

Camping in state parks is a fun family hobby. We’d like to make it easier for families to give it a try. Community part­ner­ships help us reach a wider audience!

Studies have shown that kids who spend more time outside grow up happier, health­ier and smarter. At TPWD, we want to help children have those outdoor ex­pe­ri­ences. Texas Outdoor Family is part of that effort.

Camping at a state park is intimidating to someone who’s never camped. TOF helps remove barriers. Our programs include all the camping basics and activities a family needs for a fun campout.

We provide:

  • Six-person tent
  • Cots for adults
  • Sleeping pads for youth
  • Stove, pans and fuel
  • Lantern
  • Recreation equipment specific to the park (kayaks, GPS units, bikes, helmets, cooking equipment, and fishing rods)
  • And more!

What is a Community Partnership?

We partner with com­mu­nity organizations to organize camping trips for families. With our help and your leadership, we can offer fun and educational events, even if your group has limited funding and experience.

If you represent a learning effort, a com­mu­nity organization or a veteran’s group, we can help you connect your audience to the outdoors at a very affordable rate. See if yours is an eligible organization.

Partner Types

TOF currently partners with more than 50 groups in three of Texas’ metro regions (Austin, DFW, and Houston). Existing partners include: school districts, parks and rec departments, after-school pro­grams, veterans’ groups, zoos, nonprofits and communities of faith.

What do these groups have in common? They want to share fun at state parks with their members.

Eligible Organizations

Organizations whose members meet one of the following three criteria can become a TOF Community Partner:

  • TPWD CO-OP Grant recipients (within the last four years)
  • Veterans services organizations
  • Groups that represent a low-income audience (50 percent of youth members are eligible for free or reduced school lunch)

Participating Audience Types

Families

TOF “families” are mixed groups of youth and adults at each camp­site: relatives, friends or any other combination. This “family” shares a camp­site and equipment, including sleeping space in the tent.

A TOF event usually has 20 campsites, with one tent and one set of camping equipment at each site. Our tents are designed to fit six people.

Youth Groups

Groups that work with youth from different households, such as after-school pro­grams, nonprofits, etc., can participate, too! We recommend five youth per tent.

Events with youth groups require cha­pe­rones. TOF requires one overnight chaperone, sleeping in a solo tent, per every two camp­sites of youth.

Tier Growth

Eligible groups that start the “Community Partner” process will choose one or more coordinators. These folks establish a working relationship with TOF staff that will evolve into more advanced tiers over time. Eventually, these leaders will take over as host for that group’s camping workshops.

Tier 1 - New Partner with TOF

Coordinator(s) attend our required Outdoor Leadership Training. Once completed, the TOF partner will select a workshop from our predetermined calendar of about 200 events in a year.

Next, the partner will sign folks up for the workshop.

TOF’s experienced ranger staff will handle most of the event production at your group’s first workshop, with the OLT-trained coordinator’s help.

Tier 2 – Partner Takes More Ownership

TOF rangers will attend the second camping workshop, but will hand over more responsibility to the partner leader. The TOF staff will host or help host portions of the workshop, if needed.

TOF rangers will offer feedback and constructive critiques on the workshop, with a focus on safety, LNT impact, and camper fun.

Tier 3 – Partner Independence

At Tier 3, TOF the partner will host the workshop. TOF rangers will attend the first tier 3 workshop of the OLT leader, to assess the success of the workshop.

The group will be able to host its own workshops once it has led a successful independent workshop. TOF will continue to provide equipment, but rangers will not attend.

Timeline

TOF recognizes that each OLT trained leader has their own strengths and experiences. Three workshops may not provide enough practice to make you comfortable leading an event inde­pen­dently. However, TOF expects to see growth towards inde­pen­dent programming with each event.

Outdoor Leadership Training

Each organization designates a person or persons as TOF co­or­di­na­tors who will attend an Outdoor Leadership Training session. Trained leaders will act as point of contact and host for the group’s in-park workshops. Each partner workshop must have at least one OLT-trained leader onsite for the entire event.

OLT is a weekend-long training, with overnight camping and practice sessions with experienced TOF staff. You’ll learn best practices for hosting an overnight camping workshop. We focus on safety, Leave No Trace, gear management, and fun activities.

We host a fall and spring OLT in each region.

Regional Programming

Texas Outdoor Family reaches many Texans using a regional design. We operate out of three of the most populated regions in our state: Central Texas (Aus­tin/San Antonio), Dallas/Fort Worth, and Houston. We fill hundreds of camp­sites in each region with workshops in state parks. These parks have a variety of natural, historical, and cultural resources.

Recreational Activities and Trainings

We provide equipment for community partner camping work­shops in state parks. We cover fishing safety and Junior Ranger activities as part of OLT.

You’ll need supplemental training to bor­row specialized gear (bikes, kayaks and GPS units for geocaching). We lead these trainings regionally throughout the year.

How to Safely Host Biking and Geocaching Programs trainings are about four hours long. The kayaking training takes about eight hours

Cost

Hosting a workshop costs $25 per camp­site. Youth groups pay a max­i­mum of $200, while family-based workshops pay a max­i­mum of $500. This includes park entry fees for participants, volunteers and staff, camp­site fees, and use of camping equipment.

Partner Resources

Contact Us

Contact your regional coordinator to discuss partnering with Texas Outdoor Family.

Frequently Asked Questions about Community Partnerships

What if I have limited experience camping?
No problem. We have free, specialized trainings to help you develop the skills you need to host a fun, safe, and suc­cess­ful camping workshop for your group.
Does the cost cover my group’s entry fees into the State Park?
Yes, the cost covers all park, program and reservations fees.
How big of an audience can I bring?
TOF can accommodate up to 20 families depending on park and campsite avail­abil­ity. For youth-based workshops, TOF can ac­com­mo­date up to 100 youth with the appropriate number of chaperones.
What equipment is provided?
We provide the basic camping equipment needed for the week­end. Families provide sheets, blankets, food and personal items. View the “Welcome Packet” in Partner Resources for a detailed list.
What outdoor skills and programs are taught with this program?
Each workshop offers different activities. Your group could geocache (high-tech treasure hunt), kayak, fish, swim, take a night hike, start a campfire, cook in a Dutch oven, go to a nature program, mountain bike, stargaze and more. Partners are en­cour­aged to teach their own unique skills and programs too!
I’m not sure if my group qualifies to be a partner.  How do I find out for certain?
Call your regional Texas Outdoor Family Coordinator and explain the situation. Contact us to see which coordinator is relevant for your location.

Texas Outdoor Family home page.