Vermont State Parks launches Happy Campers program

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Vermont State Parks is launching the First Time Happy Campers Program at five parks during the months of July and August. Created in partnership with the Outdoor Gear Exchange, this program provides free camping for new campers, whose names will be chosen at random when they register through this website: https://www.vtstateparks.com/happy-camper.html.

The idea for the program came as a recommendation from the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC), a group of outdoor recreation leaders tasked by Governor Phil Scott to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities and boost the recreation economy in Vermont.

The program is designed to encourage families who haven’t camped before, to give it a try. Participants will receive a free campsite, firewood, tents, camp stove, lantern, and sleeping pads. If campers don’t have sleeping bags or don’t want to bring bedding from home, they can purchase sleeping bags online from the Outdoor Gear Exchange for a discounted rate of $34.95 for delivery to their home or pick up upon arrival at the park.

“In establishing VOREC, we recognized the opportunity to leverage the State’s exceptional outdoor assets to help grow our economy and further promote outdoor recreation,” said Governor Scott. “So I am very pleased to see this initiative move forward, as it provides greater access to Vermont’s campgrounds for those who may not typically visit. I appreciate the work of our VOREC members, and all those at Vermont State Parks and the Outdoor Gear Exchange who made this possible.”

Campers will be met by park interpreters who will show them around and help set up their camp while providing camping tips and support throughout the weekend. Campers can attend interpretive programs, check out free fishing gear and enjoy all the parks have to offer.

Prior to the trip, participants will receive a packet containing a packing list and tips, meal and recipe ideas, and other information to prepare them for the trip.

Participating parks are Bomoseen, Button Bay, Grand Isle, Stillwater, and Woodford.

Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington procured critical gear donations from their vendors and are helping with gear delivery and sleeping bag purchases.

“Camping is a great experience that blends adventure with fun and relaxation in ways that bind friends and families together and creates lifelong memories,” said Craig Whipple, director of State Parks. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to have that experience and this program is a terrific way to get started.”

Interested campers can sign up at https://vtstateparks.com/happy-camper.html and choose the park and weekend of their choice. Two families will be chosen each weekend with campsites located near each other, so they can meet other families new to camping. If many applicants choose the same weekend, winning entries will be selected at random.

To sign up and learn more, visit: https://vtstateparks.com/happy-camper.html –– submitted by Rebecca Kelley.

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