Camping weekend helps families explore Vermont’s outdoors

Looking for a way to get your family to unplug and reconnect with the outdoors? The Outdoor Family Weekend, May 31–June 2 in Groton, provides a chance to camp out, canoe, swim, learn basic outdoor skills, and rediscover nature through classes and recreation.

The popular camping weekend, now in its 16th year, will be held again this year at Stillwater State Park, located on Groton Lake in the 28,000-acre Groton State Forest. It’s sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Forests, Parks and Recreation, and is open to all families, especially those new to camping.

Registration closes on May 17 although early sign up is recommended for best selection of classes and campsites, which will be assigned on a first-come, first served basis. The park has tent, lean-to, and RV sites.

The fee is $175 per family (up to eight people), which covers the campsite, class instruction and materials, use of most equipment, the Friday night ice cream social, and Saturday night potluck supper. Families are asked to bring their own camping gear and food, plus a dish to share at the potluck, which features hot dogs, hamburgers, and moose burgers on the menu.

Each camper may select three classes from the more than 40 options available including archery, nature photography, outdoor cooking, wild woodland edibles, wilderness survival, GPS and geocaching, kayaking, fishing, and orienteering. Among the new offerings this year are classes on native wildlife and plants, leaf art, herbal first aid kits, fire starting, and invasive insect pest identification. Younger campers will enjoy the nature scavenger hunt and Lorax Story Walk, which features an easy hike along a scenic trail while reading the classic Dr. Seuss story “The Lorax.”

In addition to the classes, several special activities will be offered including a paddleboard demonstration, bottle rocket making and launch, and an evening bonfire by the lake. Families also may swim, hike, bike, relax at their campsite, and just enjoy all that the state park has to offer.

Past attendees who refer a new family to this year’s camping weekend are eligible for a drawing for a free weekend stay at any Vermont state park, courtesy of the Vermont Forests, Parks and Recreation Department. Details are available on the Becoming an Outdoor Family Weekend website.

For registration information, program details and class descriptions, visit www.uvm.edu/extension/family/?Page=outdoorfamily.html. Upon receipt of registration, confirmation will be sent along with campsite and class assignments.

Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate should contact Gail Makuch at (802) 257-7967, ext. 301 or (800) 278-5480 (toll-free in Vermont) or by email at gail.makuch@uvm.edu by April 29.

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