Kids and adults get expert instruction on camping, paddling, climbing, fishing and archery at Minnesota state parks this summer

As part of its ongoing effort to get more people outdoors, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a series of skill-building workshops that will introduce camping, fishing, paddling, climbing and archery to the next generation this summer.

The DNR Division of Parks and Trails created these programs in response to recent research that points to declining participation in outdoor recreation by young families. After hearing parents say in focus groups that they lacked outdoor skills, the DNR created a series of workshops with a focus on outdoor adventure made easy for beginners. The workshops were made possible with funds from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

I Can Camp!

Participants will camp overnight, get hands-on experience, and learn basic outdoor skills from an expert I Can Camp! crew. 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). One-night workshops ($35 for up to six people) are scheduled every Saturday, June 4 to Sept. 3. Two-night workshops ($50) will take place June 24-25, July 15-16, July 29-30 and Aug. 12-13. For locations or to make reservations, visit www.stayatmnparks.com or call 866-85PARKS.

I Can Climb!

Certified professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures will teach kids, first-time climbers and other beginners the basic skills needed to get up some of Minnesota's most stunning cliff faces. These workshops will take place between June 11 and Aug. 27 at Interstate, Blue Mounds and Tettegouche state parks. All equipment and instruction will be provided free, but a vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter all Minnesota state parks. No reservations are required. Children must be at least four years old (nine years old to do the more difficult climbing at Tettegouche State Park), and anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

I Can Paddle!

I Can Paddle! workshops will help beginners develop all of the skills necessary for a lifetime of paddling on Minnesota's lakes and rivers, from how to launch a canoe safely to the most effective paddling strokes.

· Canoeing 101 programs will take place on lakes at various Minnesota state parks. These two-hour programs, scheduled 10 times between June 12 and Aug. 27, are free except for the vehicle permit required to enter the park ($5 daily, $25 year-round).

· River canoeing programs will take place on the St. Croix River State Water Trail (Saturday, June 25), the Otter Tail River State Water Trail (Saturday, July 16), the Rum River State Water Trail (Saturday, July 30), and the Minnesota River State Water Trail (Saturday, Aug. 13). The river canoeing programs cost $15 per canoe, with up to three people per canoe.

Advance registration is required for all workshops. Canoes, lifejackets and paddles are provided.

Archery in the Parks

Learn how to shoot a bow and arrow in a safe, supervised setting at one of the many programs taking place at Minnesota state parks May 27 through Oct. 1. Trained archery instructors will provide an introduction to the sport of archery, along with assistance in shooting a bow. No experience or equipment is needed. There is no charge for any of these programs, but a vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter all Minnesota state parks.

I Can Fish!

Learn the basics of how to cast, tie a knot, and catch fish from MinnAqua Nature Corps staff and veteran anglers. Equipment and bait are provided. No fishing license is necessary. Most of the time is spent actually fishing. More than 100 workshops are scheduled throughout the summer. Days and times vary. There is no charge for any of these programs, but a vehicle permit ($5 daily or $25 year-round) is required to enter all Minnesota state parks.

For more information on any of these programs go to www.mndnr.gov/parksandtrails and search for I Can! 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.

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