State parks, trails offer new season of 'I Can!' programs for families
Families will learn how to pitch a tent, hook a fish, paddle a kayak or canoe, scale a cliff and shoot a bow at nearly 200 "I Can!" programs offered this summer at Minnesota state parks and on state water trails. The newly expanded "I Can!" series of outdoor programs are designed to introduce kids to camping, fishing, paddling, climbing and archery.
"We created the 'I Can!' series in response to research that showed declining participation in outdoor recreation by young families," said Courtland Nelson, DNR Parks and Trails Division director. "These popular programs are designed to introduce the next generation to the outdoors."
Since the series launched in 2010, thousands of people have been introduced to outdoor recreation and Minnesota state parks and trails. Participation in "I Can Camp!" totaled 877 in 2012, up 51 percent from the 582 who participated the first year.
"I had to drag my kids there, and now they won't stop exploring," reported one father who participated in an "I Can Camp!" program. "We consider ourselves on our way to becoming veteran campers," said a mother who attended the hands-on, learn-to-camp workshop.
All equipment is provided for the 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. A vehicle permit ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) is required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. A one-day permit is included with registration for an "I Can Camp!" program.
I Can Camp!
Participants camp overnight and learn basic outdoor skills from an experienced "I Can Camp!" crew at this beginner-level program. All camping equipment is provided (including tents, air mattresses and cook stoves). Participants just bring their own food and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets and pillows). Advance registration is required.
One-night workshops ($40 for up to six people) are scheduled on Saturdays from June 8 to Aug. 31.
Two-night workshops ($60 for up to six people) will take place July 12-14, July 26-28, Aug. 2-4 and Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
I Can Fish!
Experienced anglers will offer hands-on instruction to first-timers and those who want a refresher at this free fishing program offered at state parks statewide. All equipment and bait are provided, and no fishing license is necessary for Minnesota residents. Advance registration is not required.
I Can Paddle!
Learn paddling skills from experienced guides while exploring some of Minnesota's most stunning lakes and rivers at programs designed for beginners. Participants will learn how to launch a canoe or sea kayak safely, practice essential paddling strokes and more. No experience or equipment is necessary. Canoes, sea kayaks, lifejackets and paddles are provided. Advance registration is required. Three types of paddling experiences will be offered:
On the Lake programs - These two-hour programs ($10 per canoe, with each canoe accommodating up to three people), perfect for beginners of all ages, will take place at various Minnesota state parks throughout the summer.
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 and river safety. Programs will take place on state water trails (river routes mapped and managed for paddling). Participants must be age 8 or older.
Sea Kayaking programs - These two-hour programs ($35 per person) will introduce participants to sea kayaking on the Lake Superior State Water Trail. Participants will learn all the basics of sea kayaking while gliding past towering cliffs and the Split Rock Lighthouse.
I Can Climb!
Certified professionals from Vertical Endeavors will teach basic climbing skills and help kids and other beginners scale real rocks at four premier state parks for rock climbing. Helmets, harnesses and other climbing and safety gear are provided. Advance registration is required. Three types of climbing experiences will be offered:
I Can Climb! - This 90-minute program ($5 per climber), designed for first-time climbers age 5 or older, will be offered at Blue Mounds State Park and Interstate State Park.
I Can Climb! On the North Shore - This 90-minute program ($5 per climber), for participants age 10 or older, takes place at Tettegouche State Park. Climbers are safely lowered from the top of a cliff above Lake Superior and then climb back up. No experience
I Can Climb! Basic Belay and Safety - This program ($35 per participant), for participants age 14 or older, is designed for those who've tried one of the other two "I Can Climb!" programs and want to take their climbing skills to the next level. It will focus on knot
tying, belaying, climbing commands, rope management skills and more.
Archery in the Parks
Trained archery instructors will provide an introduction to archery, along with assistance in shooting a bow in a safe, supervised and supportive setting at these free programs. No experience is necessary, and all equipment is provided. Programs are scheduled statewide May through August. Participants must be age 8 or older. Advance registration is not required.
For more information about any of the programs in the "I Can!" series, including program dates, times, locations and other information, visit www.mndnr.gov/ican (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/can_series.html) or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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.