Unique program offers camping close to home with help from parks & recreation

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Families have a new opportunity for outdoor fun this fall with another Family Camping Workshop, hosted by Mansfield Parks & Recreation in conjunction with Texas Parks & Wildlife. The program is designed to help first-time campers experience the fun of sleeping under the stars without the stress of planning and expensive preparations.

“Camping is a wonderful experience and something we hope every child gets to try at least once,” said Tiffany Chrzanowski, nature education specialist with Mansfield Parks & Recreation. “But it can be overwhelming to get all the equipment and supplies, not to mention expensive. And it’s hard to justify that investment if you don’t know how often you’ll be able to use it. We are thrilled to partner with Texas Parks & Wildlife on this unique program and bring an easier, more affordable option to Mansfield residents.”

family camping

Fishing, kayaking, hikes and other activities are all included.

The program, first offered last fall,  is returning this year with plans to add a spring option based on demand. Participants pay one flat fee per family (defined as two adults and up to four children) which covers use of all of the necessary equipment. Tents, cots and cooking supplies are all included. Guests bring sleeping bags or blankets, food and any personal items (toiletries, etc.) they might want. While food is not provided, staff does send a packet of campfire-friendly recipes that can be easily made with the provided equipment and very little prior skill.

“The training is an incredibly valuable bonus to this program,” Chrzanowski said. “We aren’t dropping people in the middle of the woods. Our staff is on site throughout the entire trip to help with everything from setting up a tent to starting a fire. You don’t need to have been a boy scout to feel totally safe and prepared to spend the night under the stars.”

After a night hike to explore the woods, the group sang songs and made s'mores by the fire.

After a night hike to explore the woods, the group sang songs and made s’mores by the fire.

The workshop runs from Saturday morning until Sunday morning and includes activities during the day such as kayaking, hiking, fishing and crafts. The excursions are all included in the workshop fees and are led by trained staff. The evening ends with s’mores and songs by the campfire before everyone retires to their tents for the night. The activities and exact timeline depend on the time of year and campsite location, which varies by season and availability. Spaces to participate in the workshop are limited and registration closes Sept. 7. More information and online registration available here.

“Our goal with this workshop is for people to realize you can still have these amazing outdoor experiences even when you aren’t living out in the country or a trained forest ranger yourself,” Chrzanowski said. “It doesn’t take much to have an amazing weekend in the great outdoors with your family, and we’re so happy to help make that happen.”

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