'I Can Camp' Gets Minnesotans Outdoors

Updated: 05/26/2014 8:44 AM KSTP.com By: Katherine Johnson

An air mattress, a camping stove and real dishes at a campsite is not exactly considered "roughing it."

But they are some of the amenities of the legacy-funded "I Can Camp" program.

For $40, you get a tent that sleeps six, sleeping bags, air mattresses, a cooking stove, dishes, camping lights, a camping permit and firewood. Two instructors also camp nearby in case you have any questions.

"I was camping out in Yellowstone National Park for the first time in my life and it snowed and it rained and my tent collapsed and my sleeping bag got wet," said Fort Snelling State Park manager Larry Peterson. "If I had a program like this, I would have known what I was doing."

The "I Can Camp" program, run by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, is offered at many of Minnesota's 76 state parks.  Just call the park of your choice ahead of time and request to sign up.  They'll have the kit waiting for you at the park office when you arrive.

"We'll teach people how to build a fire and cook over it and there'll be lots of fun activities for the kids," said Amy Barrett, who works for the DNR.

"Hopefully you come away from it with all the skills and confidence to go do it on your own next time," said Barrett.

Minnesota State Parks have teamed up with the DNR to offer a variety of "I Can" programs, including I Can Climb, I Can Paddle, I Can Fish and Archery in the Parks.