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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Monday, March 25, 2019

5/8/2017 3:45:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
DNR "I Can" Program Teaches Kids And Parents New Outdoor Skills

By Deborah Locke

As a parent, you remember life before cell phones and laptops when you spent time outdoors. You'd like to see your kids do more with their hands than play with their phones. You'd like to see them move and learn and play. But how do you get them outside and active?

Your kids - and you - can learn to climb rocks, use a bow and arrow and camp in the woods. Even if you've never stepped on a boulder, held a bow, or slept anywhere without a roof over your head, you can become an outdoors hero to your kids through a program offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR's "I Can!" program gives hands-on training that will give you the know-how to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities that are fun, low-cost and family friendly.

The "I Can!" program started in 2010 to address one of the main barriers preventing more people from getting out to enjoy nature through activities such as camping, fishing and canoeing: a lack of skills and knowledge about how to do those things. That first season, 582 people spent a night or two at a state park learning how to start a campfire, pitch a tent and other basic skills through the "I Can Camp" program. In 2011 and 2012, DNR added programs focused on other outdoor recreational skills:

• "I Can Paddle!" teaches participants how to safely handle a canoe or a kayak;

• "I Can Fish!" covers the basics of angling: what kind of equipment to use, how to use it, fish identification, etc.;

• "I Can Climb!" provides opportunities to try rock climbing;

• "I Can Mountain Bike!" gets participants out enjoying trails on two wheels;

• "Archery in the Parks" gives you a chance to shoot a bow and arrow.

DNR Parks and Trails provides all the equipment needed for these programs, and experienced staff offer training and assistance. With the exception of "Archery in the Parks," the programs require advance registration and charge a small fee for participation. People are encouraged to sign up early, as some programs, especially those at highly popular parks and those near the metro region, can fill up quickly.

"Anyone who's wanted to learn outdoor skills, but hasn't felt comfortable, they should sign up," says program coordinator Eric Pelto. "They'll learn the skills they need so they can come back and do it on their own."

For more information including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements - visit www.mndnr.gov/ican, or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Saturday). To register for a program, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations, or call 866-857-2757 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily (except holidays).

The "I Can!" series of introductory programs is made possible by the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters in 2008 approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. That amendment dedicates a portion of sales taxes to parks and trails of regional or statewide significance. More than 12,800 people have participated in these programs since they were first offered in 2010.

St. Paul, MN



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