Minnesota State Parks Responds to Studies That Show Camping Does Not Come ‘Naturally’ To Some

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William O'Brian State PaekWhen focus group participants were asked to name some things that kept them from going camping, many said they simply didn’t know how to camp. The focus group sessions were conducted last year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Recreation.

“This came as somewhat of a surprise for those of us who have been involved with camping and outdoor activities from childhood,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Division of Parks and Recreation. “It stands to reason, if you haven’t had the experience or training, a new venture can be intimidating.”

To remove the barrier, Minnesota state parks sought to partner with an outdoor recreation organization that could help provide equipment, teach and train those with a desire to learn the basics of outdoor camping.

As a result, Minnesota state parks and its partner, REI, developed “I Can Camp” for individuals and families to learn the basics of camping.

As part of the program, REI staff will show participants how to put up a tent, choose and try out gear and how to cook a camp meal that they will get to eat. Minnesota state park naturalists will also be on hand to present information, tips and tales to enhance the outdoor experience.

Camping at William O'Brian State ParkThis program is designed for families with kids ages five and up and includes an overnight stay in the campground at either William O’Brien State Park, north of Marine on St. Croix, on June 28 or Lake Maria State Park, near Monticello, on Aug. 16. The program costs $7 for adults and $5 for children and includes meals. Participants can bring their own tents and sleeping bags or these are available at no cost upon request.

The programs begin at 1:30 p.m. on the first day and end at 11:30 a.m. the following day. Registration is required. Space is limited, so people are encouraged to register early by calling REI Roseville customer service at (651) 635-0211 for the program at William O’Brien State Park.

To register for the program at Lake Maria State Park, people should call REI Maple Grove customer service at (763) 493-7861. Minnesota state park vehicle permits are required to enter the park.