MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Now that one of the worst winters in decades is over, the Department of Natural Resources wants to remind us that summer awaits in Minnesota’s State Parks.

And they have programs that make it easy to try new activities. The DNR showed off some outdoor gear Friday morning available through its “I Can” series of programs.

Those allow people to try paddle boarding, fishing, rock climbing and other activities — without buying a lot of equipment.

Blowing up an air mattress is just one step in the I Can Camp program. The Parks and Trails division provides everything, except food and bedding, for up to six people to spend one night in a state park.

“It’s an opportunity for folks who haven’t had a camping experience to be educated about actually how to set up equipment and how to make an outdoor meal,” said Courtland Nelson, the director of the Parks and Trails division.

The I Can Paddle program includes canoeing on lakes and rivers, and sea kayaking on Lake Superior.

New this summer to that program is stand-up paddle boarding. That’s available at 11 state parks, with instruction on three dates this summer.

“It’s a very simple, easy skill to master, one that gets you out on the water in a different way,” Nelson said. “It’s growing by leaps and bounds.”

Whether you have tried indoor rock climbing or not, the I Can Climb program can get you going outside in four different state parks.

“With the climbing program, we provide helmets, harnesses, everything you need to experience rock climbing outside on a real cliff,” Eric Pelto, with the climbing program.

The I Can Fish program is taught by experienced anglers, with all equipment provided, and no fishing license is needed.

Archery in the Parks is also back this year, with programs scheduled around the state.

“These are all activities to try and help people get more comfortable with the skill, and to understand something about the equipment, at either a low or no-cost opportunity,” Nelson said.

Some of these programs require reservations.

For more information, click here.


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