New program aims to get families camping at state parks

Vermont State Parks would like to get more Vermonters camping this summer.

The First Time Happy Campers Program aims to do that at five state parks in July and August, along with gear from the Outdoor Gear Exchange.

The program is designed to encourage families who haven’t camped before to give it a try. Participating parks are Bomoseen, Button Bay, Grand Isle, Stillwater and Woodford.

Participants will receive a free campsite, firewood, tents, camp stove, lantern and sleeping pads. Campers can purchase sleeping bags from the Outdoor Gear Exchange for a discounted rate.

Campers arrive on Friday night, and park staff will show them around and help set up their camp, providing camping tips and support throughout the weekend. Campers can attend interpretive programs, check out free fishing gear, and enjoy the parks all weekend.

Prior to the trip, participants will receive a packet containing a packing list and tips, meal and recipe ideas, and other information to prepare them for their trip.

Parks officials will choose two families per park per weekend. Learn more and sign up online at vtstateparks.com/happy-camper.html.

The idea for the program came as a recommendation from the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative, a group of outdoor recreation leaders tasked by Gov. Phil Scott to brainstorm outdoor recreation opportunities.

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