The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hosts several different types of educational programs to learn outdoor recreation activities hands-on.
Let’s take a look at them…
I Can! Programs
The DNR’s I Can! Programs are designed to expose families to outdoor recreation activities. The idea is to give hands-on instruction and provide the gear so parents and their children can try something new together.
What a great way to try an activity without having to invest in a bunch of gear first. The prices are “free to unbelievably affordable”—you can’t go wrong there!
The program information (including cost) is updated annually on the following pages:
- I Can Camp!—Choose either a 1-night or 2-night program. All your gear plus the state park permit is included in the cost. They’ll teach you all the basics including how to set up camp, start a campfire and cook. You bring your own food. Go to I Can Camp!
- I Can Paddle!—Learn what it’s like to be on the water in a canoe or kayak. Absolutely no experience necessary, and all the gear is included. Go to I Can Paddle!
- I Can Mountain Bike!—Your kids need to be at least 10 for this one (and be able to ride a bike on pavement). Use of bikes and helmets are included in the price, as is any park passes needed. See what off-road biking is all about! Go to I Can Mountain Bike!
- I Can Climb!—Always wanted to try rock climbing? Here’s your chance to scale a cliff or two for an “unbelievably affordable” price. All the gear is included. There’s a program at Blue Mounds State Park (southwestern Minnesota) and Interstate Park (on the St. Croix River near Taylor’s Falls). Then for the very adventurous, there’s a program on the North Shore in Tettegouche State Park. You’ll be scaling cliffs on Lake Superior up there. These can be great outdoor adventure weekends when combined with a camping trip. Go to I Can Climb!
- I Can Fish!—Again designed for beginners and entire families, and again with all gear provided. A super introduction to one of Minnesota’s most popular recreational activities. Go to I Can Fish!
- Archery in the Parks—For the unbelievable price of FREE (except your park pass). For ages 8 and up. No experience is needed and they’ll have all the archery equipment for you to use. Go to Archery in the Parks.
Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW)
BOW is a national program with chapters in individual states. Their main focus is for women who want to learn to hunt, shoot and fish. But they also offer programs for rec activities like nordic walking (using trekking poles), kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).
BOW holds its classes and events all over the state, including several locations in the Twin Cities area.
There are many women-only classes taught by other women—some for a couple hours, some over a weekend. BOW also sponsors weekend family events that include lots of outdoor activities, lodging and food.
Whether you’re out to learn a new skill or learn something new with a skill you already have, BOW is a non-competitive and supportive environment to learn.
Here’s the BOW 2018 Event Calendar to give you an idea of the classes they offer, along with the cost and locations.
Go to the BOW page on the DNR website…
Minnesota DNR Podcasts
If you learn by listening, there are many short podcasts on the MN DNR site under 10 different topics. You can learn about:
- Making a perfect campfire
- How to intern as a Minnesota state parks naturalist
- Advice for paddlers on the state water trails
- Winter fun in Minnesota’s state parks
- And lots more
You’ll find the entire list of podcasts here.