Minnesota state parks offer first-time camping experiences for families

(Released April 3, 2014)

People who have never pitched a tent or cooked over a fire—or who have forgotten how—can practice these and other outdoor skills when they sign up for one of the 24 “I Can Camp!” programs offered this summer at state parks and recreation areas.

I Can Camp! cooking at Interstate State ParkThe first programs take place Saturday, June 7, at Nerstrand Big Woods and Wild River state parks, both within an hour of the Twin Cities.

“Camping is fun, and it’s a longstanding Minnesota tradition,” said Eric Pelto, who coordinates the “I Can Camp!” programs for the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Trails Division.

All camping equipment is provided (including tents, air mattresses and cook stoves) at these beginner-level programs. Participants need only bring their own food and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets and pillows).

“Our ‘I Can Camp!’ instructors will be on hand to help families with everything from tent set-up to meal preparation,” Pelto said. “They’ll also try to make sure everyone has fun by providing opportunities to try geocaching, digital photography and other activities.”

One-night workshops ($40 for up to six people in a tent) are scheduled on most Saturdays in June, July and August. Eight two-night workshops ($60 for up to six people in a tent) are also available for families who want a more complete weekend camping experience.

Reservations are required and can be made online or by phone.

These programs are made possible with support from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in November 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25 percent of the sales tax revenue and may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

Find more information, including dates and locations online or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 651-296-6157, or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.