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Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453, tom.harvey@tpwd.texas.gov [TH]

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

TPWD News Release — Aug. 8, 2005

Becoming An Outdoors-Family Weekend Set For Sept. 16-18

DING DONG, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is pilot testing a new program called Becoming An Outdoors-Family, offering a weekend workshop Sept. 16-18 at TPWD’s Parrie Haynes Ranch near Killeen for first-timers who want to learn camping, fishing, backpacking, shooting, mountain biking and more.

The new program is based on TPWD’s popular Becoming An Outdoors-Woman workshop series, which began 13 years ago and has since graduated 2,567 women and developed a database of more than 13,000 women interested in continuing their outdoor experiences.

“Everyone in today’s mostly urban world, not just women, is getting further from the outdoors,” said Ashley Mathews, who coordinates Becoming An Outdoors-Woman for TPWD. “Those traditional skills that were fundamental for Texans 100 years ago are being lost. It’s harder to imagine doing these things when you don’t have that tradition in your family and you don’t have the basic skills.”

Mathews said TPWD has for years been considering ways to offer a family-based outdoor learning program. The final spark came in part from the Becoming An Outdoor Family weekend offered each summer in Vermont, now in its 8th year. The University of Vermont Extension and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources provide that program.

The weekend starts at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16 and continues through lunch on Sunday, Sept. 18. Course topics include Camping 101 (for adults), Texas Explorers (for kids), Fishing Basics, Hit the Trail (day hikes), Mountain Biking, Air Rifle, Family Nature Walks, Water Wonders, Wildlife Detectives, Insect Investigation, Fly Fishing, Backpacking, Geocaching, Outdoor First Aid, Kayaking Basics, Dutch Oven Cooking, and Archery.

The weekend costs $175 for a family of four, plus $15 for each additional person. That covers all meals, lodging, demonstration equipment and instruction.

“We realize this is a real bargain, and prices may change later, but we want to make this attractive and easy for families to get involved,” Mathews said.

The workshop is recommended for the family that has “never tried outdoor activities but would like an opportunity to learn” and has “never camped, fished, hiked, etc. or is completely new to the outdoors.” It is designed for families with children ages 5-to-12. There should be one adult over 18 for every two children. Children under 12 may not attend an outdoor activity without a parent or guardian.

“This does not have to be a traditional family with mom, dad and kids,” Mathews explained. “It can be any combination—grandmother and grandchildren, uncle and nephew, as long as there’s an adult and a child with a family connection.”

Workshop enrollment is limited to 18 families on a first-come, first-served basis. A second workshop is planned for spring 2006, and TPWD encourages families to register to get on a list to learn about future workshops.

To request a brochure with workshop details and an application form, send e-mail to ashley.mathews@tpwd.texas.gov or regular mail to TPWD/BOW, ATTN: Ashley Mathews, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744.

There is no Web page for Becoming An Outdoors-Family yet, since the program is still in the pilot stage. Information on Becoming An Outdoors-Woman and other Texas outdoor recreation and education opportunities is on the TPWD Web site.

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