Minnesota state parks offer a variety of activities

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, March 28, 2015

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

As I was listening to the radio the other day, the news director spoke about an additive that was going to be used to get things like glue and toothpaste out of the tube faster. That news is surely going to take a lot of worry off of my mind and help me sleep better at night.

With that thought in my head I recalled my days as a youth attending Hammer School north of town. It was a two-room schoolhouse that had a basement that was used for eating lunch and recess on rainy days. I remember anxiously waiting for the milk man to bring our milk for lunch each day. We had to bring our own lunches but needed to wait for the milk before eating. I guess that was part of the nutrition program in those days. I can still smell those egg salad sandwiches that mom would pack in my lunch; they were my favorite.

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The little school also had a library where not only books but art supplies were stored. Whenever there was a new art project that required colored paper and the paste that was used to hold most everything together a couple of students were chosen to get the supplies. Now the paste — that we would call glue today — was white and kept in a large jar. The students were to use a wooden stick to put some of the paste in a smaller container for everyone to use. If you had ever gone to a country school in those days, it was inevitable that sooner or later you would have your turn at fetching the art supplies, and it was almost guaranteed that you would be tempted to taste that paste at least one time. It actually didn’t taste all that bad. For most of us, it became a challenge to sneak a taste without getting caught by the teacher.

Things were a little different back then because it didn’t take much to entertain us. I can remember the year that the mumps were going around. Our teacher had us line up, and one at a time we would come forward and eat a spear of dill pickle. This was how we were tested for mumps; if you had a sharp pain in your glands then there was a very good chance that you were coming down with them. I can still remember that feeling and the subsequent double-barreled case of the mumps. Things are just a tad more sophisticated in the medical field these days. My dad never did let me forget that I had shared the mumps with him.


Programs available for outdoor activities

Many of our state parks have some pretty good programs for folks who want to try camping and a variety of other outdoor activities for the first time.

Learn to camp, paddle and more at Minnesota state parks.

Registration for I Can Camp! and other skill-building programs began March 20, the first day of spring.

People who lack the experience or equipment to go on a camping, canoeing or fishing trip should consider signing up for one of the many introductory programs offered at Minnesota state parks and trails in 2015. Reservations are now being taken for the following beginner-level programs, which start in June and continue through the end of August:

• I Can Camp!: Develop or brush up on fire-starting and camp cooking skills, and stay overnight in tents, complete with air mattresses, that sleep up to six people. The price is $50 for one-night programs or $75 for two-night programs.

• I Can Paddle!: Get out on the water for some guided canoeing, kayaking, sea kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding practice. The price is $15 per boat and up.

• I Can Climb!: Experience the thrill of rock climbing with instruction provided by trained professionals from Vertical Endeavors Guided Adventures. The price is $10 per person.

• I Can Mountain Bike!: Learn riding techniques and ride mountain bike trails with guides from the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Club. The price is $25 per person.

• The Minnesota state parks and trails I Can! series also includes I Can Fish! and Archery in the Parks programs, which are both free and require no reservation.

“If you’d like to create some unforgettable outdoor experiences with your kids but don’t know how to get started, the I Can! skill-building programs are designed for you,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota state parks and trails. “Minnesota has amazing state parks, trails and water trails, and we want to spark interest in more families to get out and enjoy them.”

No experience is necessary for any of these programs. Instruction and essential equipment is provided. Vehicle permits are required to enter Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. The cost is $5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a yearly permit. Registration for the I Can Camp! programs includes a one-day permit.

For more information about registration regarding any of the programs, including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements, visitwww.mndnr.gov/ican or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Register online or call 866-857-2757 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, except holidays.

Until next time, it’s never too early to start planning for that family vacation or just a weekend camping trip. You can always enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s a week’s vacation, a weekend of camping or a day trip to an area park.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.