Bright sunshine, a crystal blue sky, light winds and calm waters on Stillhouse Hollow Lake greeted participants at the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Family Campout held Saturday and Sunday at Dana Peak Park.
Tents of every size, color and design lined the shore at the lake as campers began setting up about 3 p.m. for the Saturday afternoon and evening of activities.
Dorian Evans, activities specialist with Heights Parks and Recreation, told the Herald that the Family Campout began in 2014. This year’s annual event drew 70 people representing 19 families.
“We did have a couple of families on the waiting list and it was kind of sad to have to tell them we were out of room,” Evans said. “Regardless, it was a great feeling to know so many had signed up.”
Activities on Saturday included kayaking, kids crafts, Leave No Trace for adults and teens, a hamburger and hot dog cookout, hiking up Dana Peak and geocache on the peak, s’mores and stories, plus stargazing and free play time.
The day ended with quiet time. All flashlights were to be turned out by 10 p.m.
Evans said, “Geocache is a recreational activity to hunt for and find a hidden object with the use of GPS coordinates.”
Sunday morning began with a pancake breakfast including sausage and bacon at 7 a.m. followed by another hike up Dana Peak. The remaining time was for free play and checkout at noon.
“The best part of the weekend was we built in a schedule but there was lots of free time and choices of activities. Some people are avid campers and you can tell by the way they put up their tent but there are people here who have never camped before,” according to Evans.
Several people brought their fishing gear and spent their free time at the water’s edge trying their luck at hooking a big one.
“One dad from New Jersey said I’ve got to get my kids outside. I mentioned to him that I was impressed that they already had their tent up and he said they had been practicing in the back yard,” Evans said.
Julie Burns of Harker Heights showed off a rather large tent that would sleep 10.
Terryl Green from Killeen told the Herald that this was her second family campout weekend. Greene was watching her daughter, Torquelle, on the lake in a kayak. Her goddaughter, Jadeen Adams, 15, was taking her first trip in a kayak.
Green said, “I’d like to the thank the crew from parks and recreation who helped put our tent together. They did a great job!”
Coming off their kayak ride, Green, 15, said, “It was a lot of fun until a spider made an appearance in the boat.” Adams pulled up along beside her and rescued Green by helping her get the spider out of the kayak.
“I didn’t have to jump out of the kayak or anything like that,” Green said. “I’ve been kayaking for about two years, and the little critter still got my attention.”