Saturday, May 25

Arizona State Parks Make Camping Easy With New Classes

Americans love going camping, and even spent a total of 516.6 million days doing so back in 2013. However, not everyone knows how to go camping, or even has the equipment to do so. Camping isn’t much fun if you can’t properly pitch a tent, build a fire, or cook outdoors.

Luckily, the Arizona Family Campout program can help.

Arizona State Parks’ new program introduces families who have no — or next to no — experience camping with the great outdoors. It’s so basic, a tent isn’t even needed.

For just $70, trained coordinators from Arizona State Parks will teach a family of four campers (an additional five dollars per person for larger groups) how to set up a tent, build a fire, cook, shoot archery, mountain bike, hike, fish, and geocache.

Everything is provided, too — tents, sleeping mats, camping chairs, first-aid kits, and even mountain bikes. The only things families need to bring are their pillows, clothing, sturdy shoes, water bottles, flashlights, cooking utensils, personal items, and foods. Coffee, snacks, and campfire treats are also provided, along with water, too, so even if a family bungles up their dinner, they’ll still be fine.

“We make sure everybody is covered,” said Louis Juers, who coordinates the program for Arizona State Parks. “We provide the cookstoves, and make sure campers are comfortable starting the stove and cooking what they brought. If not, we’ll help them along. And if it all goes dark, we buy extra food to make sure nobody goes to bed hungry.”

This program is not only fun, but also healthy, too. The fresh air’s extra oxygen causes the body to release serotonin, which boosts a person’s mood. Camping helps families socialize, a behavior that research published in the American Journal of Public Health found could extend a person’s lifespan. Plus, the exercise is great. Hikers burn anywhere between 120 to 300 calories an hour. Mountain bikers burn between 300 and 500 calories an hour, and fly fishers can burn as much as 200 calories an hour.

The program begins on September 26 at Lyman Lake State Park, and continues on for another six dates across five state parks. The program will then start again in spring, with six weekends planned at six parks.

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