Everything’s Bigger in Texas
Spanning 268,601 square miles, Texas is the largest state in the continental United States. And when it comes to throwing a party, Texans reckon they’re number-one doing that too.
The Texas State Leadership Team decided in 2011 to hold its first annual RMEF Texas State Rendezvous. It since become an annual tradition and takes place over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend at Nails Creek State Park in east-central Texas, the approximate center of mass for our 17 chapters and 8,000-plus RMEF members. It’s a camping experience for most with a just few folks making it into a day trip. The activities take place Saturday and Sunday but many arrive on Thursday or Friday to help set up and stick around until Monday before heading back home.
The family-oriented rendezvous usually has about 55 adults and 20 youth or kids with fun activities for all ages. We have 3-D hog and deer targets and provide bows, arrows and instruction for youth. There is also shotgun shooting with Annie Oakley-type shoot-offs. Young or beginning shooters are taught the importance of firearms safety, shotgun use and other skills. There’s also a catch-and-release kids fishing pond next to the camping area. We also set up an inflatable “Jumpy Castle” and we all have fun playing kids-in-the-woods, our version of hide-and-seek. We offer horseback trail riding and a wagon ride just off the park property at a volunteer’s ranch. There is also free time for families and friends to walk, explore, fish, play cards or take part in other activities like horseshoes, bean bag toss, washer toss, card games, board games and other fun.
One of the highlights is an archery competition where we stack a couple bales of straw and pin a deck of cards covering the front of the bales with the card face down and back exposed. For $20, shooters get five arrows and a recurve bow to shoot at the cards from about 10 yards away. Each card hit is then removed and shooters make the best poker hand they can from the cards. The best poker hand at the end of the day wins a firearm. It’s a lot of fun and the competition makes some money for RMEF along the way.
Perhaps the best feature that makes our rendezvous so enjoyable is we provide eight meals of local chuck wagon catering for all participants. That’s right—NO COOKING for tent or trailer campers! Meals are prepared by and served from an historic horse-drawn chuck wagon. They’re enjoyed in one of several wall tents and include a heavy steel six-foot diameter fire pit also used for sing-a-longs, storytelling and fireside chats.
We always order the new legacy package of merchandise and a few other new catalog items so volunteers can get an early, first-hand look at them. We then take those items and hold a small live auction and raffle that also include items donated by participants. We give each donor $40 in raffle tickets to encourage interest in our Saturday evening auction and expand the raffle options.
Other activities include a wrap-up of Texas and national RMEF mission work from the previous year, acknowledgements, a swap meet and providing time for volunteers to share ideas and chapter successes.
RMEF Regional Director (Texas)