By Elsa Maxey
Almost as a kickoff to spring break with the season’s warm sunshine that followed a week of wet and gray weather, McGrath Park in Meadows Place turned out to be the place to disconnect from technology and unwind.
This past weekend’s Family Campout treated residents to campsite basics, safety, cooking and other activities organized and presented by the folks from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the city’s parks and recreation department. Meadows Place Mayor Charles Jessup credits Parks Director Colene Cabazes, “who wanted to provide our residents with a fun filled event which would bring families together and introduce them to camping and the joys of being outdoors with their family,” he said, sans “the expense or hassle of travel.”
A beautifully laid out and colorful tent city in sections of the park emerged at the lake grounds for the campout featuring kayaking, archery, fishing wilderness first aid, Dutch oven cooking and an array of campfire activities, even the making of S’mores. The kayaks were furnished by the Texas Parks and Wildlife, who together with the YAC (Youth Action Council) volunteers helped the event run smoothly, said Jessup. Residents also brought sleeping gear and ramped up life in what one could call the centerpiece of the neighborhood.
One of the main attractions was the gigantic white teepee, a Sioux design, adorning the camp site on a mound that was set up by Tom Stone of Sugar Land, who is associated with Boy Scouts.
“We do these types of programs typically for the scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, and this is a new venue having both scouts and families out here,” said Stone. “We’re trying to do something new that people have not seen before, trying to find an interest in the American Indian, the heritage and the culture,” so that scouts and even their families and others may join “the circle of the American Indian heritage and culture,” he said.
Stone, himself, “did lots of (American Indian) ceremonies when I was a Boys Scout, danced quite a bit, I was a line dancer and I even competed back in that time.”
Stone said he revisited his interest in teaching about the American Indian culture in 1989, when his two daughters were in Girls Scouts and his son in Boys Scouts. He said the activities that send children back through history include ceremonies with drumming in Indian attire, learning of songs in powwows, and others such as beading experienced for the first time that cultivate creativity and imagination making life-long memories of a different time.
“I do a lot of training, even in my backyard with teepees, I do classes for that” to “share the knowledge,” he said.
As a master instructor, Stone also does training at the national level with the national Boys Scouts program. This includes teepee etiquette.
Jessup told the Star that this was the city’s first year to host the campout in the park and did not know what to expect, but guessed 50 to 60 people would sign up for the $25/family of four event. A grand slam, he called it since 146 registered, closing out the event. The city’s parks department provided supper, cooked and served by city council members and others serving on boards and commissions, said Jessup. The campout, which will probably return, “is just one of the many new things made possible by the conversion of a flat hard field to an award winning water reuse project that resulted in our main Meadows Place park with flower covered hills and a beautiful lake,” boasted the mayor.
Capping his commentary about the park, “a fun place to bird watch,” is that it has become a favorite for walking by residents and guests, the place where many other community events are held. The lake feature in the one square-mile city is also used to irrigate most of the city’s parks land.