I Can Camp! 2011
In 2011 our goal was to plan and host 28 overnight workshops to teach camping skills and provide equipment to new campers at a reduced rate of $35 per family; we also introduced our two-night workshops at $50 per family. In order to accommodate participant’s availability in 2011 workshops were moved to weekends only. Consequently this limited how many programs we could offer.
In our second full season of “I Can Camp!” (2011) we hosted 20 workshops 71% of our initial goal. 8 workshops had to be cancelled due to the state government shutdown taking place through much of July. Had the shutdown not taken place it is certain that we would have reached 100% of our initial goal and attracted significantly more participants. Overall 522 people participated in the 20 workshops. When compared to the 582 participants at 30 workshops in 2010 this is still a 34.5% increase in participants per workshop in 2011.
The I Can Camp! program provides people new to the outdoors with a safe and comfortable way to learn the basics of tent camping, through first-hand experience, providing all equipment and instruction, combined with conservation education and hands-on outdoor recreational skills activities. The DNR offered and conducted two, overnight workshops each week from June 4 through the September 4, 2011.
After some 50 years of growth, nature-based recreation turned a corner in the 1990s and is now declining on a per-capita basis in Minnesota and nationally. Per-capita visits to state and national parks, use of state trails, hunting, fishing, boating, wildlife watching, and wilderness use are all down. The primary contributing trend is a drop in participation by young adults (ages 20 to 40) and their children. This can be attributed to many parents today did not have opportunities to camp when they were growing up and have fears about safety, dangerous animals, hygiene, and other issues. They would like to provide the experience for their kids, but are not comfortable with trying it on their own. In order to help overcome declining trends in outdoor recreation and connect more people with outdoor learning, camping skills workshops have been shown to help parents overcome their fears and become more comfortable recreating in the outdoors on their own.