News release: Learn to camp, paddle, fish and mountain bike in Minnesota’s great outdoors

April 4, 2024

Registration is now open for the summer 2024 I Can! programs in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

I Can! is an award-winning series of outdoor programs from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that helps beginners learn new outdoor skills in a state park or recreation area setting. In addition to programs focused on the basics of outdoor recreation, there are some programs, like backpacking or sea kayaking, for people who are ready to try a more advanced version of an activity they enjoy.

“At the DNR, we are passionate about empowering people to explore the beauty of nature and gain confidence in outdoor activities they might have never experienced before,” said Eric Pelto, special programs coordinator for I Can!. “Our goal is to remove barriers that keep people from trying new outdoor activities by providing the equipment and knowledge to get started.”

Programs are offered during the summer, beginning the first weekend in June and continuing through the end of August. Programs are low-cost thanks to funding from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

Programs include:

  • I Can Camp! – These programs provide hands-on instruction on setting up camp, starting a campfire, camp cooking and fun outdoor activities. All gear is provided, including the tent, air mattresses, cooking gear and other basic camping equipment. One-night, two-night and backpack sessions are offered.
  • I Can Paddle! – These programs teach the basics of canoeing or kayaking, including launching, paddling efficiently, and planning a safe outing. These programs are designed for first-time paddlers and equipment is provided. Two-hour canoe or kayak programs, river day trips, sea kayaking, and overnight canoe camping programs are available.
  • I Can Mountain Bike! – This program teaches mountain bike riding techniques at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Minnesota’s world class mountain bike park.
  • I Can Fish! – These hands-on programs teach the basics, from fish identification to casting. Participants will be ready to begin a lifetime of memories on Minnesota’s lakes and streams.

“Whether you're a novice or simply looking to expand your horizons, our low-cost programs offer the perfect opportunity to extend your comfort zone and make lasting memories in the great outdoors,” Parks and Trails Division Director Ann Pierce said. “From camping under the stars to paddling Minnesota’s waters, casting lines into the unknown, to tackling thrilling mountain biking trails, we provide expert instruction and all the necessary equipment for a safe and unforgettable experience.”

Schedules and registration

For more information about any of the programs — including program dates, times, locations, and minimum age requirements — visit the DNR’s I Can! webpage.

To register for I Can! programs, visit the DNR reservation website or call 866-857-2757 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, except holidays).

About I Can!

Since 2010, more than 100,000 people have participated in I Can! programs. The Minnesota State Parks and Trails I Can! program series is made possible with funding from the Parks and Trails Fund, created after voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008. The Parks and Trails Fund receives 14.25% of the 3/8% sales tax revenue that may only be spent to support parks and trails of regional or statewide significance.

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