Family Time: More fun in state parks — learn how

May 9, 2019

Yes you can! And Whitewater State Park will show you how at one of their I Can! programs. Designed to teach outdoor skills to beginners, families sign up now to participate in hands-on learning adventures throughout the summer.

“The I Can! programs are offered at most of Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas,” said Sara Holger, Whitewater State Park naturalist. “There’s I Can Paddle, I Can Mountain Bike, I Can Climb, and more. The programs get families outdoors and teach the skills they need to be able to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.”

This summer Whitewater will host two types of I Can programs: Fish and Camp. Held three times (once each in June, July and August), I Can Fish gets family members outside, fishing for trout (rainbow, brown, brook) on the middle branch of the Whitewater River.

“It’s a misperception that everyone fly fishes for trout. Yes, you can fly fish for trout, but there are definitely other ways to catch trout — and we’ll be doing it with bait and a regular fishing pole,” said Holger. “This is a catch-and-release program. You don’t need a fishing license. The only thing we ask you to bring is bait, trout worms (available at most bait shops), as they tend to work best.

“We provide all of the equipment, give you lots of one-on-one attention, and go through all of the basics before you ever get a pole in your hand,” Holger said. “The thought is, if you like doing it, you’ll leave the program with the skills and knowledge so you can come back and do it on your own.”

Families are also invited to participate in Whitewater’s I Can Camp program. Offered in July (2 night) and August (1 night), families learn how to pick a site, set up a tent, and make meals over a campfire.

“Everything except your groceries is provided, and we even provide you with a shopping list for those,” said Holger. “The I Can Camp staff takes you through everything step-by-step: the best place to put your tent on your site, how to build a campfire, what to do if it rains. They teach you all the things you need to know to make camping fun.”

Families register for the I Can programs online. Each program has a fee ($7/adults I Can Fish, $60/$85 I Can Camp). A one-day park state park pass is included in the cost.

“The entire I Can series is great,” said Holger. “It gets people coming into state parks that have never been before and it teaches them a skill that keeps them coming back.”