Outdoors Blog

State parks loan camping gear, other rec equipment to first-time adventurers

Priest Lake State Park is one of the participants in the First Time Adventure Program.
Priest Lake State Park is one of the participants in the First Time Adventure Program. Idaho State Parks and Recreation

If you want to give camping a try — or try it again after years in the city — without investing in the gear, Idaho State Parks and Recreation’s First Time Adventure Program will hook you up.

A state park’s staff even will show you how to set up the gear and start a campfire.

“It allows us to show folks how easy it is to be outside,” said Jennifer Okerlund, communications manager for the department.

First Time Adventure has expanded to include hiking, snowshoeing, fishing, paddle sports, outdoor cooking and interpretive programs. Eight state parks participate in at least one activity (more info: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/activities/learning).

Lucky Peak State Park offers programs for fishing, camping and Dutch-oven cooking. Lake Cascade State Park offers camping and paddling programs. Hells Gate and Priest Lake state parks in North Idaho also offer camping programs. Gear can be reserved by contacting the individual parks.

The only cost is for the campsite, reservation fee and park admission.

Priest Lake has four sets of camping gear — including tent, sleeping pad, stove, lantern, two lawn chairs and a Dutch oven. Campers need to bring their own sleeping bags.

Priest Lake also has canoes, kayaks and snowshoes for the First Time Adventure program.

“(Customers) are like: ‘This is unbelievable. We didn’t have any of the gear. We just wanted to try camping for the first time,’ ” said Lonnie Johnson, the park manager at Priest Lake. “It’s a full-service event for them.

“It’s pretty fun for us, also.”

The full list of participating parks: Castle Rocks (fishing), Hells Gate (camping, biking, bird watching), Lake Cascade (camping, paddling), Lucky Peak (fishing, camping, Dutch-oven cooking), Lake Walcott (fishing), Massacre Rocks (paddling, water sports safety), Priest Lake (camping, Dutch-oven cooking, snowshoeing, paddling) and Winchester Lake (fishing).

Equipment was provided through sponsorships with The North Face, Cabela’s and Coleman, Okerlund said.