State programs for first-time campers a big hit

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Several states are encouraging the camping lifestyle this year by offering first-time camper programs.

The itineraries vary state-to-state but the hoped-for result is that after introducing families to camping, they’ll get excited and will continue to do it on their own.

This is the second year New York is offering its program, after the success of last year’s pilot program. The Dept. of Environmental Conservation, with the Office of Parks and Recreation, provide most gear necessary for up 65 families, which includes a six-person tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, lanterns and firewood.

Applications will be taken online May 10–13.

Texas offers a similar program. The Texas Outdoor Family Program provides a group with the basic equipment for an overnight stay at a state park. Gear includes a six-person tent, stoves and fuel, two cots and pads, cooking utensils and all equipment necessary. Here is the link for more information. Be forewarned: It appears most of the programs are full. You can still put your name on a waiting list.

Six Georgia State Parks offer the First-Time Camper program. Anyone who has never camped in a Georgia State Park may participate. Gear provided is essentially the same as the other states.  Click here more for information.

To learn if your state or one you plan to visit has a similar program, search the keywords “state parks” and “family outdoor programs.”

 

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Ray Zimmermann
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Ray Zimmermann

It’s great to introduce more people to camping, but I don’t hear about these states doing anything to increase the number of sites available to camp. I know these programs are basically for tent camping, but it seems most tent campers soon upgrade to RVs, and we all know RV sites are becoming harder and harder to find.