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Family Camping in Texas

Submitted by on June 17, 2013 – 6:04 am2 Comments

Family Camping - Texas State Parks

A Few Tips for Family Camping

by Stephanie Green

My children and I have done a lot of camping over the past several years. I have two children that are seven years apart. The oldest is a girl and the youngest a boy. Both of my children were born and raised in Texas. Over the years we have searched for things to do that would please both children because of their differences. Age, sex, and dispositions are all different between these two darlings of mine but there is still plenty of love.

Texas State Parks

My son has always been active and my daughter is happy doing anything. They both enjoyed fishing, swimming, hiking, and camping. So a logical destination for us was one of Texas’ state parks. If you pull up a map of the state parks in Texas you would be amazed. The entire state is covered and no matter where you are located in this great state of ours you should be within a couple hours of a state park.

The state parks are great places to camp because they are well guarded, well maintained, clean, and have good facilities and hook ups. We have always camped in tents but the sites have electrical plugs and water faucets along with a place to make a camp fire. All the camps we have visited are in the forested areas and near a lake. I know some of the parks are even near the ocean. We have camped our way from the southeast part of Texas to the northwest, through the dessert areas. Cold at night and hot in the daytime!

Is that a Bear?!

When we began camping we did not have a clue what we were doing. We bought a tent, filled a cooler up with food and headed out to a state park within a couple hours of our home. We found out really quick that you have to keep your food in the car if you did not want to awaken and have no food. We also discovered (or at least I did) that you need some kind of padding in a tent or you can wake up pretty sore, but that is just my opinion. I guess it depends on your age and agility.

On one of our first camping trips in Texas we went deep into the Piney Woods. We knew nothing about camping except that we needed a tent. The first day we got there kind of late so we made camp, a campfire, and cooked up a hot meal. After supper we cleaned up and put our food in the cooler. We did put the cooler in the trunk this time but not because we knew we should, it was just easier. We did however leave a pot unwashed because we were too tired to fool with it. We did rinse it out but I think it had baked beans or something in it. Just so you can get a better picture of the scene, it was me, my daughter and my mother in a three man tent. We had gone to sleep early, right after dark because we were so tired from the drive and putting up camp. My daughter was only four at the time so she was zonked out. I awoke to the sound of heavy breathing which is not something you want to hear when you are sleeping out of doors and sound asleep. I hurriedly unzipped the tent just a bit to look outside. There were two big red eyes staring right at me from on top of the picnic table. Whatever is was looked huge and sounded even bigger! I really did not want to scare my daughter or my mother for that fact but I had to wake someone and mom was nominated.

Clean up after yourself or you might make some interesting new friends!

Now, you will figure this out pretty quickly, but I am not familiar with which forests do and do not have bears. We were deep in the forest and as far as I knew they all had bears. It sounded like a bear; it looked big enough, so therefore it must be a bear, right? My mom tried to reassure me that there were no bears in the Piney Woods of Texas but I was sure she was mistaken. When we finally found the flashlight (because we were so well prepared) and pointed it at the table it was revealed to us that it was a giant possum (or opossum because I am not sure of the difference). I mean giant! They really grow them big in those Piney Woods. He was licking the bottom of the pot we had not cleaned thoroughly and the sound of his breathing coming off the bottom of that metal pot was just pretty darn awesome. We made sure to clean our pots and pans and put them away from then on.

There are animals even in state parks

We did not give up camping after that but we were a little bit wiser, just a little. The next time we tried another state park that was a couple hours in a different direction. But this time my son was with us. It was again just mom, the kids, and me. My spouse said that the only form of camping that was acceptable was going to a hotel. Hmmm. Anyway, we showed up in the afternoon and started putting up camp. This time we had a much bigger tent and lots of padding for me and mom. My son was small and there was only so much he could do to help in putting up the tent etc. so my daughter (seven years older) took him for a look at the lake. When they returned in a few minutes my daughter looked a bit pale and my son was really excited. The news was very exciting to be sure. There were alligators on the shore of the lake! Oh boy. Luckily we had decided not to take a site nearest to the lake because of my son and closer to the potties because of mom and me.

This is another example of not knowing what animal lives where. Not that I was ignorant that Texas does indeed have alligators but I was unaware that they lived at a state park. We were assured that if we did not bother them then they would not bother us. I felt so much better after speaking with the ranger. Can you imagine?

Lock things up to keep them safe

Well, it worked out okay because the big fellow we saw the first day left and we did not see anything except a few noses poking up out of the water while we were fishing. The fishing was great and my son was having a blast. The tent we purchased had a screened in porch on it where you could eat without getting eaten by mosquitoes. We thought our food would be safe inside that screened area but we thought wrong. Early on we found out we had to lock everything away in the van if we wanted to get any sleep.

After we got the food locked up we settled down again for the night but there was some sort of animal clawing at one corner of the tent. I kept trying to poke at it and make it go away but to no avail. I finally got up with the flashlight and ran outside chanting a death wish at whatever critter it was in a low whisper so as not to bother the neighbors. But he persisted in coming back throughout the night. Needless to say it was not a very restful night for mom and I. The kids were in a deep sleep ensuring that even though we were completely fried the next day they would be full of energy. Ah, to sleep like that again. Anyway, when daylight finally came I did some research in that corner of the tent and found that we had forgotten a bag of cookies. They were completely wrapped up and in a tent! What kind of sense of smell do these critters have? I also found a small hole that it took that critter all night to make without the satisfaction of a cookie. Persistent little buggers!

Can’t wait for our next family camping adventure!

We have learned something new each time we have taken a camping trip. Every new trip brings a new adventure and some new story to take home. My kids are getting older and we often reminisce about our attempts at camping and have a good laugh. There are so many great state parks in Texas we have not even scratched the surface. Soon we will be planning our next great adventure!

Stephanie Green has many years of experience as a nanny. She has always loved children and has continuously been involved in childcare activities. Currently she is one of the writers for houstonnanny.com. If you want to get in touch with her, you can email her at stephanie.houstonnanny@gmail.com.

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