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home : features : science and nature July 22, 2014

Experience Outdoor Fun At Annual Family Camping Weekend
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GROTON -- The deadline for the 17th annual "Becoming an Outdoor Family Weekend," is Thursday. The program gives families an opportunity to reconnect as they explore the outdoors and sample new activities such as geocaching, orienteering, canoeing or nature photography.

The event will take place May 30 - June 1 at Stillwater State Park in Groton and is open to all families. It is geared to those new to camping or spending time outdoors. It is sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. To register go to

The fee covers up to eight people at the campsite, all classes, instruction and most equipment. It also provides full access to all of the state park's facilities, including free rental of canoes and kayaks. New this year is a free, optional Sunday night stay for families interested in extending their weekend.

In addition to free time to enjoy the lake, hiking trails and other park amenities, each camper may sign up for three classes, choosing from more than three dozen options. Offerings include beginning mountain biking, basic firearm safety, outdoor wild game cooking, native wildlife and plants, various shooting sports, trail running, introduction to archery, advance kayaking, raptors in our backyard and wilderness survival, along with numerous other choices.

Among the activities offered for the first time this year are fly fishing, skeet shotgun, bat house construction, duck decoy head painting, making a walking stick and a competition shoot. New environmental education classes for younger kids include a forest scavenger hunt and a session on exploring sounds in nature.

On Saturday afternoon staff from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum in Marlboro will present a program on raptors with live owls and hawks and touchable artifacts. The weekend also features a bottle rocket making station and evening bottle rocket launch and a community potluck supper with hamburgers and hot dogs. Families are asked to bring a dish to share.

Returning families who encourage a new family to register for the weekend will be entered in the Refer-a-Family drawing for a free weekend stay at any Vermont State Park, courtesy of Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. Complete details can be found in the registration booklet.

For questions about the weekend, contact Debbie Fajans, UVM Extension youth and family specialist, at 802-257-7967, ext. 306, or 800-278-5480 (Vermont calls only) or e-mail

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