Learn to pitch a tent, build a fire, cook outdoors and more during Let’s Camp America! Weekend at Indiana State Parks, May 5-7.
Let’s Camp America! Weekend is a nationwide initiative of the National Association of State Parks Directors.
The weekend is a chance for beginners to learn basic camping skills, and for experienced campers to get their equipment out for a spring weekend. Activities will take place at all 32 Indiana State Parks properties and on social media. The weekend celebrates all forms of camping, including tents, trailers, recreational vehicles and cabins.
The weekend concludes with free admission for everyone— campers and day-users alike—on Sunday, May 7, in honor of Visit Indiana Week, sponsored by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development.
The 32 properties owned and managed by Indiana State Parks offer a combined 7,700 campsites and more than 150 cabins, and nearly 700 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails.
Each state park and state reservoir property will offer the usual educational talks and hikes with interpreters, along with a special camping skills program sometime during the weekend. Programs are listed at calendar.dnr.IN.gov, and also will be posted later at stateparks.IN.gov/3282.htm. Topics vary from s’more-making to fire building.
“We really want to celebrate the joy of camping with family and friends, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the activity,” said Ginger Murphy, Indiana State Parks deputy director. “We have lots of folks who camp after Labor Day in the fall, but not as many who camp in the spring. We encourage Hoosiers to start a new spring camping tradition when the wildflowers are blooming and everything is really greening up for summer.”
“Camping 101” programs at select properties offer 12 families who have never camped at a state park the opportunity to do so for free that Friday and Saturday. Participants will also receive free guidance with campsite set up as needed, and the use of essential gear for up to four people, including sleeping bags, pillows, a cooler, camp chairs, lantern and firewood plus free gate admission for the weekend and a free one-day pass for future use.
“Camping 101” tent-camping programs will be at Whitewater Memorial, Summit Lake, Potato Creek and Versailles state parks. Space is limited to three families at each of the four parks, and advance reservations are required.
If sleeping in a tent isn’t for you, Mississinewa Lake and Shakamak State Park will host “Camping 101” programs with their camper cabins. These cabins are basically “four-walled camping” structures with simple bunks, a table and an outdoor fire ring. Three cabins at each property are being held for first-time campers. Participating families at Mississinewa and Shakamak will also receive use of the camping gear listed above, along with free gate admission for the weekend and a free one-day pass for future use.
For all “Camping 101” programs, participants must bring their own food, and an equipment deposit of $10 for tent camping and $15 for camper cabins is required. The deposit will be returned after the campsite is used and gear is left in good condition.
To reserve a “Camping 101” site for either tent-camping or camper-cabin use, contact Christie Sorrels at (317) 233-6258 or
. Sites will be provided on a first-call (or email), first-served basis, and will include a check of our camping reservation system to make sure those who seek a reservation haven’t camped with us before.
The weekend also includes these social media elements and giveaways on the Indiana State Parks Facebook page at facebook.com/INdnrstateparksandreservoirs for all campers to enjoy:
Share a photo of your favorite camping gadget on the page using the hashtag #myfavcampgadget2017. You can do this whether or not you are camping during the weekend. Selected favorites will win a 2017 annual pass or camping gift card.
Post your campsite photo, camping selfie or scenic spring image from the weekend. Use the hashtag#LetsCampAmericaFunPix. Selected favorites will receive a 2017 annual pass or a camping gift card.
Share your favorite camping story/memory using the hashtag #mycampingstory. Selected favorites will receive a 2017 annual pass or camping gift card.
In addition, if you make and keep a camping reservation for the weekend, you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of two $50 camping gift cards to be presented for future use after Let’s Camp America! Weekend has ended.
Each property will have up to 50 combination drink-plates to give away during the weekend. These combo plates, produced in partnership with Pioneer Plastics, allow you to hold onto your food and drink at the same time as you sit around the campfire in your lawn chair.
“Anytime you camp at an Indiana State Park or one of our big lakes, you are surrounded by acres of open space for hiking, fishing, playing, relaxing and making great memories,” said Dan Bortner, Indiana State Parks director. “So ‘Let’s Camp, Hoosiers!”