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MailTribune.com
  • 'Let's Go Camping' events offer free gear

    For $20, novice campers get a host of helpful hints
  • Oregonians who are interested in test-driving camping — but don't possess the skills or equipment for it — now have a helping hand that not only comes with a lot of experience, but also a lot of gear.
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  • Oregonians who are interested in test-driving camping — but don't possess the skills or equipment for it — now have a helping hand that not only comes with a lot of experience, but also a lot of gear.
    The Oregon State Parks Department is hosting a series of overnight camping events — including one Saturday and Sunday, July 17-18, at Valley of the Rogue State Park — that removes these common barriers for families to try camping.
    The "Let's Go Camping" events are overnight excursions for beginners. For $20, a family will get overnight camping, parking and state parks program fees, as well as free use of tents, sleeping bags, pads and other equipment.
    "It's a way for people to try the camping experience and be comfortable out there and really enjoy the experience," says Kevin Farron, the program's coordinator.
    As part of the deal, parks officials will present lessons on how to camp without leaving a trace, cooking in Dutch ovens over fires, and the 10 essentials for camping.
    Interpretive programs and outdoor activities will be offered, as well.
    Each event will be capped at 35 participants, Farron says. The Valley of the Rogue event has plenty of space available, he says.
    The parks department already has hosted three similar events at other state parks, and a "Let's Go Camping" event was planned Saturday at Silver Falls State Park east of Salem.
    In all, 13 of these events are planned through the summer and early fall, with a program offered Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19, at Bullards Beach State Park near Bandon.
    To register, call Reservations Northwest at 1-888-953-7677.
    The parks department also is looking for seasoned campers who might wish to volunteer their skills at one of the programs while getting to camp free of charge. For volunteer opportunities, call Jill Nishball at 503-378-4168 ext. 249 or e-mail her at jill.nishball@state.or.us.
    For additional event locations and dates, visit the parks department website at www.oregonstateparks.org.
    Farron says the program's genesis traces back to similar one-night camping opportunities offered at the Tyron Creek State Natural Area near Portland.
    The program was expanded statewide last year, "but this year it's really taken off," he says.
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