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Tag Archive | "camping"

Camping fun—even at home!

Six tips to get you started

By Ann Mills

Who doesn’t love to camp? Can you guess how many people go camping each year? Millions! In fact, nearly 80 million American households head out and camp every year, according to the 2019 KOA North American Camping Report.

Families enjoy camping in cabins, yurts, RVs and tents, but tents are the most popular shelter.

In the summer you may be fortunate enough to travel to a campground in a lovely park in the woods or even by a seashore or lake. You might even get to stay over in a place like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee, which attracts more than 12 million visitors a year.

But, even if you are sticking closer to home, camping can be a fun, meaningful experience right in your yard or even inside your home. Why bother to set up camp at home? Well, it’s a great family bonding activity and an important learning exercise. Parents need to guide the kids to some degree, but the goal is for children to take part in discussing, planning, coordinating and helping with the activities. They will love it, and it will keep them busy for at least a few days!

Here are six ideas for brainstorming a plan that will lead to a gratifying family camping experience:

  • Gear up: Gather the basics, such as a tent and sleeping bag, foam or inflatable pads, etc. Make a point to assemble a basic First Aid Kit (kids should help to reinforce safety).
  • Firm up a plan: Make a list of things you’ll want as you sleep out under the stars, such as snacks, playing cards, flashlights and comic books (this will limit the in-and-out, I-forgot factor).
  • Study the skies: Whether you have a telescope or not, build in time to lay on a blanket and look at the moon, stars, constellations, or maybe even the aurora borealis (northern lights).
  • Capture moments: Use a camera or cell phone to catalog your activities, as well as plants, flowers, wildlife, birds and bugs you see (create a photo album later).
  • Plan meals: Combine the tenting with a cookout, with hot dogs and beans, and maybe s’mores (marshmallow and chocolate filled graham crackers) or just pack sandwiches. Keep plenty of cold drinks in a cooler.
  • Pick a few activities: You might be able to take a sundown hike before settling down for guitar playing and singing, hand-shadow play on tent walls, or storytelling time (save this for last so the kids drift off to sleep).

Why not get started right now? Gather your family and start your own list of home-camping ideas. You’ll be on your way to a great family camping adventure – no matter where you decide to do it. One final bit of advice: stick with the plan, rain or shine. The is nothing like the sound of gentle rain pattering on the tent sides as you share stories or read comic books by flashlight.

Great news: Reading Club Fun is teaming up with award-winning comic book artist Matt Ryan of Connecticut to offer FREE digital copies of his adventure comic book “Chip n’ Fish.” You can download the comic to your digital device or print it out (Act now, supplies limited). Also, get a FREE “Let’s Camp” printable puzzle set with “READ” mini-poster to gear kids up for camping and reading fun. It all starts at: https://www.ReadingClubFun.com .

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New reservation policy at state parks


Will give more campers better opportunities at sites 

A new DNR camping reservation policy that will help make it easier for more people to secure campsites in Michigan state parks further in advance, takes effect Nov. 1. Camping reservations can be booked up to six months ahead of time at www.midnrreservations.com.

In an effort to make it easier for more people to have a chance at securing campsites at many of the state’s most-visited parks, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has put in place a new policy that encourages people to firm up their reservations further in advance of their planned camping dates. The new sliding modification and cancellation structure takes effect Nov. 1.

Campers still can make reservations up to six months in advance. Under the current policy, the cost to cancel or modify a camping reservation is $10. The new structure still will include the $10 modification and cancellation fee, but also will include an additional incremental fee based on the length of time between the date the initial reservation was made and the planned arrival date. That incremental fee will be determined by the length of time a reservation is held:

*Reservations held for up to two months: 10 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between two to three months: 15 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between three and four months: 20 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held for between four and five months: 30 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

*Reservations held longer than five months: 40 percent of the nightly rate for each modified/canceled camp night.

Note: There will not be a fee to modify a reservation that adds camp nights.

Rather than holding onto several blocks of campsites at a campground – or in some cases, multiple campgrounds – the new policy incentivizes campers to finalize their plans as soon as possible.

“We are updating the current policy to encourage campers with reservations to make any necessary changes to their travel plans much earlier in the process, which opens up more sites for others who currently may experience difficulty finding space at our more popular campgrounds,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Rather than waiting for cancellations that may or may not happen close to their own desired travel dates, more campers will find that the new reservation policy will give them access to a variety of sites much earlier.”

For more information on camping opportunities and pricing, visit  www.michigan.gov/camping. Camping reservations can be booked up to six months in advance at Michigan state parks. Campers are encouraged to visit  www.midnrreservations.com or call 1-800-44PARKS (1-800-447-2757) to check on availability. Remaining camping spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact Jason Fleming, chief of the Resource Management Section in the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, at 517-284-6098 or flemingj@michigan.gov.

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DNR seeking volunteer campground hosts 

Lori and Leo Constine spent time as volunteer campground hosts in Hartwick Pines State Park this past fall helping campers, answering questions and taking part in the annual fall Harvest Festival.

Lori and Leo Constine spent time as volunteer campground hosts in Hartwick Pines State Park this past fall helping campers, answering questions and taking part in the annual fall Harvest Festival.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteer campground hosts for the 2017 camping season in Michigan state parks, recreation areas and rustic state forest campgrounds.

Spend time in Michigan’s great outdoors, while engaging with park visitors. Volunteer campground hosts are responsible for 30 hours of service per week, including duties such as helping campers find their campsites, answering questions about the park, planning campground activities and performing light park maintenance duties. Camping fees will be waived for campground hosts.

Both individuals and couples may apply for volunteer positions that begin as early as April and last through
October. Volunteer hosts must provide their own camping equipment, food and other personal items.

Interested volunteers can click on “campground host” at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers to learn more about the volunteer host campground program, download an application and waiver and view a vacancy host campground report, which is updated regularly and indicates when and where hosts are needed in specific parks.

Hosts are screened and interviewed by park managers and selected based on familiarity with the state park system, camping experience, special skills, availability and knowledge of the area. Hosts must participate in a two-day host training session within the first two years of being selected as a host. The 2017 training will take place June 7-8 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon.

For information about the campground host program and how to apply, go to www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers or contact Miguel Rodriguez at 517-284-6127.

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July 4th is spelled F-U-N!

It was a beautiful July 4th weekend, and people in the Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, and surrounding areas made the weekend count! We asked readers on our Facebook page to send us photos of what they did over the holiday and we got a great response. You went to the parade, carnival, and demolition derby in Sand Lake; boating; camping; horseback riding; the beach; played badminton; spent time with family and friends; and more!

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Introductory camping experience 


At Newaygo State Park June 27-28


Newaygo State Park—Newaygo State Park’s Recreation 101: Intro to Camping program allows first-time campers to enjoy the park’s scenic views, diverse recreation opportunities and the entire camping experience with free equipment.

Newaygo State Park, in West Michigan (Newaygo County), will host a group campout experience for new campers Saturday and Sunday, June 27-28. Participants in the Recreation 101: Introduction to Camping program can borrow camping equipment at no cost from the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 trailer.

DNR staff will guide participants through making a reservation, checking in, setting up a tent and starting a campfire. Instruction on popular recreation activities such as archery and geocaching also are included.

Tents, chairs, cook stoves and flashlights will be provided, but participants must bring supplies such as bedding and food.

“Camping can be a little intimidating if you’re new to it,” said Elissa Buck, a DNR recreation programmer. “This program helps people try it out in a fun, social setting with all the gear, guides and good times included.”

Participants must register in advance to participate in the campout and to reserve camping equipment from the Rec 101 trailer. Regular camping rates apply ($13 per night and an $8 reservation fee) and a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry to Newaygo State Park.

For more information or to register for the program, please contact Elissa Buck at 989-313-0000 or bucke1@michigan.gov.

Newaygo State Park contains a 99-site rustic campground overlooking the Hardy Dam Pond, a 6-mile flooding of the Muskegon River. The park caters primarily to campers, anglers and recreational boaters. There are several picnic sites overlooking the reservoir for day users. The campground is nestled in oak and poplar forests and is noted for its large, private sites and scenic beauty. There is a 20- to 30-foot forested buffer between campsites, and each site is provided with a picnic table and a fire ring. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/newaygo.

The Recreation 101 trailer can be reserved for large group campouts at Michigan state parks by contacting Elissa Buck at bucke1@michigan.gov.

Recreation 101 is a series of free, introductory programs at Michigan state parks, taught by DNR staff and expert volunteers. Learn more and find a Rec 101 program near you at www.michigan.gov/rec101.

Inside Michigan’s Great Outdoors subscribers are always the first to know about reservation opportunities, state park events and other outdoor happenings. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr to subscribe now.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or nonmotorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

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Start making summer camping reservations now

The Department of Natural Resources reminds users of Michigan state parks, recreation areas and harbors that reservations are now being accepted for the 2010 summer camping and boating season. Reservations for harbor slips, campsites, cabins, teepees, and yurts are now available on-line or through the central reservation system call center for dates beginning as early as Memorial Day weekend.

“Campsite reservations become available six months in advance of your requested arrival date, so we are already accepting reservations booking campsites for as early as the Memorial Day weekend,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Staff at the reservation call center begin taking phone calls at 8 a.m. on weekdays and at 9 a.m. on weekends. New site availability dates roll into the database at those times to be fair to all users.”

Campers and boaters who are planning their vacations are reminded to make their reservations now to secure a campsite or slip at their favorite park, recreation area, harbor or marina. Also, while planning your vacations, check out the calendar of events at www.michigan.gov/dnrgogetoutdoors, and select “GO-Get Outdoors,” to see what events are being planned in 2010 at your favorite state park, recreation area or harbor. This calendar is updated as events are finalized.

Also, for those winter outdoor enthusiasts, there are state parks and recreation areas that remain open for winter camping or outdoor recreation year-round. Some offer rustic camping with no amenities, while others offer semi-modern campsites with site electricity available. Some parks have cabins, mini-cabins, lodges or yurts available to rent all year, and the cabins are mostly heated with wood or propane stoves. So GO-Get Outdoors and enjoy nature year-round.

Reservations can be made on-line at www.midnrreservations.com, or by contacting the DNR central reservation system at 800-447-2757.

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