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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Tuesday, October 24, 2017

7/7/2017 3:42:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
"I Can!" Program

By Deborah Locke

Eric Pelto with the DNR Parks and Trails staff shows how to build a fire at a demonstration at Fort Snelling State Park in June. On the table are the ingredients for “s’mores,” a popular treat made with campfire roasted marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers.
First Eric Pelto sprinkled light wood shavings in the bottom of the iron cauldron used to build fires at Fort Snelling State Park near the MSP International Airport.

Then Pelto layered a frame of small pieces of wood in a twelve-inch square frame around the wood shavings, and lit the kindling. Flames curled upward.



Pretty easy, right? Still, without the proper instruction, you might pile heavier logs in the fire pit, skip the kindling or use the wrong kind, and then wonder why the fire failed to start.

The fire building demonstration at Fort Snelling State Park in early June was followed by ways to cook treats over an open flame. Fire building and campfire cooking are among the skills taught at "I Can Camp!" programs at Minnesota state parks this summer. Other "I Can!" programs teach fishing, paddling and more. Pelto is the "I Can!" program coordinator for DNR Parks and Trails.

"Camping has always been a popular summertime activity in Minnesota, but not everyone has the equipment and know-how to get started," said Erika Rivers, Parks and Trails Director for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Five years ago "I Can!" programs began with funding from the state Legacy Amendment. The programs have served more than 12,000 people.



"We've had a tremendous response," Rivers said, adding that people who attend the programs learn confidence in outdoor skills after the informal, hands-on instruction from park and trail naturalists. You can learn how to set up a tent, prepare meals and more. When you register for an "I Can Camp!" program, tents, cook stoves and other equipment are provided.

Reservations are now being taken for the following programs, which start in June and continue through the end of August at Minnesota state Parks and Trails:

• I Can Camp! - Practice basic camping skills at a one-night or two-night program, and sleep on comfy air mattresses in tents large enough to accommodate two adults and up to three children ($60 for one-night programs or $85 for two-night programs).

• I Can Paddle! - Get the family out on the water for a guided canoeing, kayaking or sea kayaking adventure (prices vary).

• I Can Climb! - Experience the thrill of rock climbing with instruction provided by trained professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures ($10/child, $20/adult).

• I Can Mountain Bike! - Learn riding techniques and explore mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club ($15/child, $25/adult).

• I Can Fish! - Show your kids the fun of casting into the water and the excitement when there's a tug on the line! ($5/person, children under 12 are free.)

The "I Can!" series also includes Archery in the Parks; no reservations are needed. For more information about any of the programs-including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements-visit www.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

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




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