Campers find joy in simple things at Coleto Creek
Coleto Creek Park Information
• FEES: $9 per vehicle per day or an annual fee of $136 per vehicle
• ADDRESS: 365 Coleto Park Road, Victoria
• Amenities: covered group pavilions, 58 campsites, four cabins and hiking and biking trails
GOLIAD - Classic rock played from the speakers of a stereo outside the camper, bathing suits dried on the line, and a hammock swung gently in the breeze.
It was time for a nap or a book - anything but a phone - for the Roell family as they camped at Coleto Creek Park in June.
They had already kayaked, boated, fished a little and biked the nature trails, as they have been doing since the park opened about 30 years ago.
Sharon and Robert Roell, of Victoria, started bringing their family to the park when their three little girls were just babies.
Now, two of their daughters are married, and one has babies of her own.
But despite busy schedules, they all make time to keep coming to the park as a family, now taking up two camping sites.
"I don't think people do stuff with their kids anymore - the family that plays together stays together, I think. And camping takes it back to the basics; it gets you away and gets you together," Sharon Roell said, as her two younger daughters each grabbed a side of the rafting tube to bring it down to the boat and her husband worked to get the boat ready.
The family, typically to be found in campsite 16, even attempted to weather out Hurricane Claudette from their site in 2003 until they were evacuated by park rangers.
"We were here, and we all waited until the last minute. We thought it wouldn't be that bad - we are hard-core campers," Sharon Roell joked.
In the winter months, when they aren't camping, they are hiking the nature trails on the weekends or taking a minute for a family picnic.
Mikayla Roell, a 15-year-old Victoria West student and the youngest daughter, said she loves when her friends are able to come out and spend the weekend with her family.
Her favorite part of the park is the water activities - boating, tubing, kayaking and relaxing by the water.
Wilfred Korth, chief ranger at Coleto Creek Park, said the water is one of the best things the park offers because the limited agricultural production around the reservoir means the lake is clearer.
He said the park also offers activities such as fishing lessons and guided nature tours during the year.
The park is also monitored by park rangers and volunteers 24 hours a day, Korth said.
Sharon Roell said they have been coming to the park for so long that many of the rangers and other campers have become like family.
"I guess I'm old fashioned. I like my family with me and think the best things in life are free. The simple things make you happier," she said.