Learning to Love the Outdoors

Some people don’t like spending time in the great outdoors because they don’t know what to do when they are outside. Thanks to the DNR and the Parks and Trails Fund there are plenty of opportunities to learn how to paddle, camp, fish, climb and do archery.

There are sessions offered throughout the state of Minnesota and plenty of paddling to take advantage of.  You can learn how to stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe on a river or canoe on a lake.  If you’d rather stay on land or not stay on land then learn how to rock climb at Tettegouche. This is the class I would most like to participate in.  Find sessions offered near you and bring some kids along with you to learn something new or just have a fun time in the great outdoors.

DNR adds stand-up paddleboarding  to its ‘I Can!’ programs

One of the latest trends in paddle sports is coming to Minnesota state parks this summer. People can sign-up for one of the new stand-up paddleboarding programs offered as part of the “I Can!” series of outdoor skill-building opportunities for beginners.

“I Can Paddle! Stand-up Paddleboarding” programs ($10 per person, ages 8 and up) take place:

Saturday, June 21, Glacial Lakes State Park (in Starbuck, 140 miles northwest of the Twin Cities).
Saturday, July 5, Sibley State Park (near Willmar in central Minnesota).
Saturday, Aug. 16, William O’Brien State Park (north of Stillwater).
Other programs in the beginner-level “I Can!” series include I Can Camp!, I Can Paddle!, I Can Climb!, I Can Fish! and Archery in the Parks. No experience is necessary for any of these programs. Instruction and all necessary equipment will be provided. Some programs require advance registration and a fee; others are free, although a vehicle permit is required ($5/one-day or $25/year-round) to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

I Can Camp!
At an overnight “I Can Camp!” program, campers sleep in a tent and learn basic outdoor skills. Camping equipment (including tents, air mattresses and cook stoves) is provided. Participants bring their own food and bedding (sleeping bags or blankets and pillows).

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. The first programs are Saturday, June 7, at Nerstrand Big Woods and Wild River state parks, both within an hour of the Twin Cities. Advance registration is required.

I Can Paddle!
Novice paddlers will explore some of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers with guides during this summer’s “I Can Paddle!” programs. Advance registration is required. Choose from three types of paddling programs:

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, take place at various Minnesota state parks, starting Saturday, June 14, at Lake Louise State Park, east of Albert Lea near the Iowa border.
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 take place on state water trails (river routes mapped and managed for paddling), starting Saturday, June 14, on the St. Croix River State Water Trail. 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. Sea kayaking is only offered Saturday, July 12, and Saturday, Aug. 2.
I Can Climb!
The I Can Climb! programs, offered in partnership with Vertical Endeavors, Inc., provide opportunities to learn basic climbing skills. Youth and other beginners ascend real rocks at Minnesota’s state parks for rock climbing. Helmets, harnesses and other climbing and safety gear are provided. Advance registration is required. Two 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 Interstate State Park in Taylors Falls, starting Saturday, June 7, and at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota, starting Saturday, June 28.
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 in Silver Bay, starting Saturday, June 14. Climbers are slowly lowered from the top of a cliff above Lake Superior and then climb back up. No experience is necessary.
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. Programs are scheduled statewide, starting May 3 at Maplewood State Park in Pelican Rapids. Participants must be age 8 or older. Advance registration is not required.

I Can Fish!
First-time anglers and those who want a refresher can get hands-on instruction at these free fishing programs, starting Sunday, May 25, at Whitewater State Park and Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park in southeastern Minnesota. Equipment and bait are provided, and no fishing license is necessary for Minnesota residents. Advance registration is not required.

Registration and more information
For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

To register for I Can Camp!, I Can Paddle! and I Can Climb!, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, except holidays).

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.

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