Minnesota state parks and trails to offer ‘how to’ camping, paddling, climbing, fishing, archery programs for families this summer
As part of its ongoing effort to get more people outdoors, Minnesota state parks and trails are offering a series of skill-building programs that will introduce camping, fishing, paddling, climbing and archery to the next generation this summer.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Parks and Trails Division created the “I Can!” program series in response to research that indicated declining participation in outdoor recreation by young families. Equipment is provided for these programs, along with mentoring from experienced instructors. Some programs require advance registration and a fee; others are free and allow visitors to drop-in anytime during the program.
A vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. More information about any of the programs in the I Can! series is available online or by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 (TTY 800-657-3929) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
ARCHERY IN THE PARKS
With archers figuring prominently in movies like “The Hunger Games” and “The Avengers,” these free, safe programs at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas may be just the ticket to getting teenagers outdoors this summer with their parents and younger siblings. Trained archery instructors will provide an introduction to the sport, along with assistance in shooting a bow in a safe, supervised setting. All equipment is provided; no experience is necessary. Programs are scheduled statewide May through October. Program dates, times, locations and other information are available online.
I CAN CAMP!
Participants will camp overnight in a Minnesota state park and learn basic camping and outdoor skills from an experienced I Can Camp! instructor, including how to set up a tent, how to build a campfire and camp cooking. All camping equipment is provided, including tents, air mattresses and cook stoves. Participants just need to bring their own food and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets and pillows).
Workshops offered are:
- One-night workshops ($35 for up to six people per tent) scheduled every Saturday from June 2 to Sept. 1.
- Two-night workshops ($50 for up to six people per tent) June 8-9, June 15-16, July 6-7 and Aug. 3-4.
Locations and more information are available online; for reservations, call 866-857-2757 (TTY 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
I CAN CLIMB!
Qualified professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures will teach kids and other beginners basic climbing skills and help them scale real rocks in a controlled environment at the four premier state parks for rock-climbing. All of the necessary climbing gear will be provided.
Three types of climbing experiences will be offered:
- I Can Climb! – This free program, designed for first-time climbers, will be offered three times at Blue Mounds State Park and three times at Interstate State Park. Participants must be age five or older; advance registration is strongly encouraged.
- I Can Climb! On the North Shore – This free program involves being lowered from the top of a cliff just above Lake Superior and then climbing back up. It will be offered June 2, July 7 and Aug. 18 at Tettegouche State Park. Participants must be age 10 or older; advance registration is strongly encouraged.
- I Can Climb! The Next Step – This program ($35 per participant) is designed for those who have tried one of the other two “I Can Climb!” programs and want to take their climbing skills to the next step. It will focus on knot tying, belaying, climbing commands, rope management skills and more. Temperance River, Blue Mounds and Interstate state parks will host a total of 15 “I Can Climb! The Next Step” programs this summer. The first one will be Sunday, June 3, at Temperance River State Park. Participants must be age 14 or older; advance registration is required.
More information is available online, for reservations, call 866-857-2757 (TTY 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
I CAN PADDLE!
I Can Paddle! programs help beginners develop all of the skills necessary for a lifetime of paddling on Minnesota lakes and rivers. Participants will learn how to launch a canoe safely, practice essential paddling strokes and more. Advance registration is required for all programs. Canoes, lifejackets and paddles are provided.
- On the Lake programs – These free, two-hour programs, perfect for beginners of all ages, will take place at various Minnesota state parks throughout the summer, starting Saturday, June 16, at Rice Lake State Park.
- On the River programs – In addition to the same basic skills included in the “On the Lake” programs, these programs ($25 per canoe, with each canoe accommodating up to three people) will cover how to read a river, as well as guidelines on river safety.
Programs will take place on state water trails (river routes mapped and managed for paddling), starting Saturday, June 9, on the Crow Wing State Water Trail. Participants must be at least age eight.
More information is available online; for reservations, call 866-857-2757 (TTY 952-936-4008) between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
I CAN FISH!
Participants will learn fishing basics from experienced anglers during these free programs at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Equipment and bait are provided, and no fishing license is necessary for Minnesota residents. Most program time will be spent fishing. Many programs are scheduled throughout the summer, with the first one at Whitewater State Park on Sunday, May 27. Program dates, times, locations and other information is available online.
Funding for the “I Can!” program series is 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.