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These programs are designed for first-time campers, or for those who could use a refresher. Experienced, dedicated park staff create a safe, stress-free environment while teaching camping basics, so you're ready for your next outdoor overnight adventure. Many programs include free loaner gear, outdoor education and activities for the whole family.

Activities May Include:

- Camping fundamentals
- Nature hikes
- Wildlife interpretive programs
- Fishing, geocaching, canoeing
- Outdoor cooking instruction
- Sustainability practices and fire safety

Check out the details below for opportunities in your area.

Bay Area State Parks

The Summer Learning Program in Marin County serves schools in Oakland and San Francisco. Marin District staff works with teachers to incorporate interpretive programming that engages the students, provides fun physical activities and instills the awe and excitement of being immersed in the natural environment of Mt. Tamalpais State Park. For many of these students, this will be their first time camping, or in some cases, being out of an urban environment.


Locations & Dates:

Mt. Tamalpais State Park: July 21-23 & July 28-30


For more information about the Summer Learning Program, please contact Interpretive Specialist Samantha Toffoli at Samantha.Toffoli@parks.ca.gov or (707) 769-5665 x227. Or visit www.calparks.org/programs/packard-summer-learning.html and www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24914.


Chicago Park District

Learn how to camp in an urban setting, under the stars, with the Chicago skyline as your backdrop! The Chicago Park District’s expert team teaches camping basics and offers guided nature hikes, fishing, stories around the campfire and more at our scheduled camping events. Camping on Chicago Park District property is only allowed during organized camping events and there are several Family Camping Events on the calendar in 2014. Registration is required.


Family Camping events will be held at the following CPD locations:


Northerly Island: July 26-27
Garfield Park Conservatory: August 9-10
Calumet Park: August 16-17
Gompers Park: September 13-14
CCFP Bullfrog Lake: September 20-21
Northerly Island: September 27-28
Family Adventure Days: May 31st and October 11th


To register and for more information visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/camping/.


Georgia State Parks

It’s never too late to discover the joys of sleeping under the stars! Thanks to a donation from The North Face: Explore Your Parks program, if you want to try camping, we can help you begin! With our First-Time Camper Program, you’ll get borrowed gear (including a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more), a lesson in Camping 101 and two nights’ accommodations in the great outdoors. Choose from eight Georgia State Parks including A.H. Stephens (Crawfordville, F.D. Roosevelt (Pine Mountain), Ft. Mountain (Chatsworth), Ft. Yargo (Winder), General Coffee (Nicholls), James. H. Flloyd (Near Rome), Reed Bingham (Adel-Sept. to May), Skidaway Island (Savannah).  Campsites have water and electric hookups, picnic tables, grills and campfire pits.  Bathrooms and hot showers are within walking distance.


Call the Park directly to make your reservations and be sure to identify yourself as a First-Time Camper. Group camping events are also available. Anyone who has never camped in a Georgia State Park can qualify. For more information visit www.gastateparks.org/FirstTimeCamper.


Idaho State Parks

Idaho is expanding it’s First Time Camper Program offerings this year, with gear and programs available at three unique sites throughout the state: Lake Cascade State Park, Hells Gate State Park, and Priest Lake State Park. Camping equipment and on-site instruction and assistance from staff will be available to individuals and families who may never have had the opportunity to experience the wonders of camping.  


For more details and information about gear, sites and program dates available within each park, please contact the park individually: Lake Cascade State Park at: (208) 382-6544 or www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/lake-cascade; Hells Gate State Park at: (208) 799-5015 or www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/hells-gate; Priest Lake State Park: (208) 443-2200 or www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/priest-lake or click on the First Time Camper Program tab at www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/activities/camping.


Maryland State Parks

Thanks to a donation from The North Face: Explore Your Parks program, Maryland State Parks is pleased to offer camping gear through the OPERATION: CAMPOUT! Program. We can lend you gear, free of charge (includes a tent, chairs, stove, lantern and more). This program is designed for military individuals and military families new to camping, or experienced campers stationed or recovering in the Maryland/DC area. Through the Wounded Warriors program, we are reaching out to those stationed at nearby bases and hospitals and veterans with this program.

OPERATION: CAMPOUT!  provides an opportunity for families to reconnect with each other and the great outdoors in a comfortable, safe and relaxing setting.


State Park locations include:

Swallow Falls, New Germany, Rocky Gap, Patapsco Valley, Pocomoke River


For more information about OPERATION: CAMPOUT! visit: www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/armed_forces.asp.

For more information, contact Christina Holden at (410) 260-8155 or by email at cholden@dnr.state.md.us.


Massachusetts State Parks

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is hosting three Learn to Camp programs for the 2014 season. The Learn to Camp programs are coordinated in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. Participants will learn to set up a tent, start a campfire, view a cooking demonstration and learn basics of fishing. In addition, each program will feature a Storyteller and Live Animal Program and a closing ceremony for the families.


Locations & Dates:

Myles Standish State Forest, Carver, MA: July 26 & 27
Harold Parker State Forest, Andover, MA: August 2 & 3


To register or for more information please call (617) 626-4962 or visit:


Michigan State Parks

Michigan is pleased to announce a new opportunity for groups to learn how to camp in a family-friendly group environment. Through the generosity of The North Face, we now have a gear trailer with just about everything needed for a group of 40 adults or 80 youth to experience camping. If interested in using the gear, Elissa Dennert at dennerte@michigan.gov or 989-313-0000. with the dates and region where you would like to camp. Pending availability, we can find a campground with space for a group of your size and on-site staff to walk your participants through the process of setting up camp, cooking over a camp stove, starting a campfire, and even making s’mores. This is a great opportunity for youth groups, scout groups or just groups of friends who want to explore if camping is right for them. There is no charge for use of the gear, but campsite fees apply and the Recreation Passport will be required for any vehicle entering the state park. Reserve early, as the calendar is filling up fast!


Locations include:

Holly Recreation Area (Detroit), Muskegon State Park (Grand Rapids)


For more information please visit www.michigan.gov/dnr/.


Missouri State Parks

Learn2 Camp in Missouri State Parks. Have you ever wanted to explore the great outdoors but didn’t know where to begin? Does your family want to make s’mores over a campfire and sleep under the stars? You’re in luck! Missouri State Parks and The North Face are teaming up to teach families to learn to camp. This June, 32 families will have a helping hand as they learn the joys of camping in a Missouri state park.


Locations & Dates:

Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg: June 7-8 (east central Missouri)
St. Francois State Park, Bonne Terre: June 14-15 (St. Louis area)
Weston Bend State Park, Weston: June 21-22 (north Kansas City area)
Long Branch State Park, Macon: June 28-29 (north central Missouri)


Visit http://www.mostateparks.com/learn2camp for program details.


New York State Parks

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) with support from The North Face and its national Explore Your Parks™ program, is working with the state Office of Children and Family Services to encourage foster families to get outdoors this summer and enjoy New York’s treasured park system. This unique partnership offers overnight camping experiences to foster families who are new to camping or looking to re-connect with nature. More than 100 families will be participating this summer at campgrounds across the state.


This camping program is providing gift cards for a free two-night stay at any of 50+ New York State Park campgrounds. Many of the parks participate in the Camper Assistance Program with volunteers on hand at various points throughout the season to welcome new campers and enrich their visitor experience. Along with the gift card and reservation information, participating foster families will receive from State Parks a special camping experience package with Camping 101 tips, a keepsake, and customized information about outdoor programs, trail maps, events and family-friendly activities. Participants who share their fun photos or memories will also have the chance to win a full North Face camping equipment package.


For any additional questions or information, please contact Wendy Gibson at wendy.gibson@parks.ny.gov.


Ohio State Parks

Want to get the family off the couch, and spend time together outdoors? Camping is a great way to get outside, get fresh air and have fun. If you always wanted to try camping, but don’t have the gear or know-how, now is your chance! Camping 101 weekends are open to a maximum of 10 families each. Participants will receive loaner camping equipment and assistance from camper hosts.


For more information contact Jean Backs at (614) 265-7077 or jean.backs@dnr.state.oh.us.


Oregon State Parks

Oregon Parks & Recreation Department brings you Let's Go Camping. It is a fun-filled weekend camping experience for novice camper families. We provide the tent, sleeping bags and mattress pads at no cost if you need them for the weekend. Lots of fun activities are planned for parents, grandparents or children. There are sixteen weekend events scheduled at various state parks. Every other weekend we're camping as a group on the coast. These are very secure events with ranger-led activities and experienced volunteers on hand to assist you 24/7. These events have been very popular with single parents, families on a budget and seniors. Cost for the ENTIRE FAMILY IS ONLY $30!


Locations & Dates:

The Cove Palisades: June 27-29
Wallowa Lake: July 4-6
Prineville Reservoir: July 11-13
Silver Falls: July 11-13
Fort Stevens: July 18-20
Cascadia: July 25-27
Cape Lookout: August 1-3
Tumalo: August 8-10
Champoeg: August 8-10
South Beach: August 15-17
Milo McIver: August 22-24
Jesse Honeyman: August 22-24


Call (888) 953-7677 Monday-Friday between 8 am. and 5 pm to reserve a spot. Our summer schedule or more information about the program can be found at www.oregonstateparks.org.


Pennsylvania State Parks

The North Face wants you to visit Pennsylvania State Parks and we couldn’t agree with them more! Through a donation from The North Face: Explore Your Parks program, Pennsylvania State Parks are offering Family Camping Programs this summer. If you ever wanted to try camping but found it too daunting, our Family Camping Programs are the perfect solution. These are overnight, guided camping experiences. We supply tents, cook stoves and other needed supplies. We’ll guide you the whole way through setting up your tent, to making dinner, to leading you on a guided hike or kayak experience.


Locations & Dates:

Jacobsburg State Park: June 27-29 and August 9-10
Delaware Canal State Park Complex: June 7-8, Aug. 2-3, Aug 9-10
Kings Gap State Park: June 28-29 and July 26-27
Presque Isle State Park: Aug 29-31

Park programs will vary based on equipment available, fee charged, as well as activities that may be offered. Why camp anywhere else but your award-winning Pennsylvania State Parks! To make reservations or for more information, please visit: dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/exploreyourparks/