Maine Government News
Lucky Families Win State Park Camping Weekends
June 22, 2009
Gary Best, (207) 287-5976 Jeanne Curran, (207)287-3156
AUGUSTA, Maine – The names of the 32 lucky families who each have won a free camping weekend at one of Maine’s state parks have been posted on two Bureau of Parks and Lands websites.
The families, all who have never before gone camping, won the free weekend in an open lottery conducted through BPL’s “First-Time Campers” program, now in its second year.
Nearly 800 families entered the drawing, even more than last year’s number, according to Gary Best, BPL interpretive specialist. All the winning families have been notified, and their free camping weekends will begin the weekend of July 10-12 at four state parks.
“They’re thrilled – we have a lot of happy campers-to-be,” Best said.
“We’re really excited about this year’s First-Time Campers program, and we’re looking forward to having 32 new families join our state park camping families,” Will Harris, BPL director, said.
The First-Time Campers program is part of the “Take It Outside” initiative led by Gov. John E. Baldacci, with programs spearheaded by BPL and a steering committee composed of leaders from a number of statewide organizations and businesses. First-Time Campers was started last year, with more than 700 families entering the free drawing.
Last year, more than 2.2 million people visited Maine’s 47 state parks and historic sites. Camping is allowed at 12 of the parks. This year, the contest focuses on eight state parks that represent geographically “a campground in everyone’s back yard,” Best said.
The parks are: Aroostook, Lamoine, Lily Bay, Camden Hills, Cobscook Bay, Peaks-Kenny, Mt. Blue, and Rangeley Lake State Parks.
The winning families each receive a free two-night reservation on the weekend of their choice and at one of the eight parks of their choice. The families are outfitted with loaned camping equipment, courtesy of L.L. Bean and Coleman, and they also receive four sleeping bags, which are theirs to keep, again courtesy of L.L.Bean and Coleman. They also receive a $50 gift card from Hannaford; coupons from Oakhurst Dairy; coffee from Wicked Joe; and drinking water from Poland Spring.
Each family also gets help in learning camping skills from park staff, such as how to set up tents, picking the best site, and campfire safety. The families also can take part in special activities at the parks, including interpretive nature walks and canoe and fishing instruction, Best said. Special programs also will be provided by the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond at select parks, he said.
“We really want them to have the full experience of enjoying the outdoors,” the park specialist said.
At the end of the season, the 32 families will be entered into another drawing for a complete set of camping equipment provided by L.L.Bean. It is the second time that the world-renowned retailer has provided the grand prize.
The families range in size from one person to a family of eight, Best said. They also come from all over Maine, including Portage Lake, Presque Isle, Bar Harbor, Westbrook and Gorham, he said.
Last year, the First-Time Camper families all indicated that they intended to continue camping after their experience.
“We’re seeing some of them make campground reservations as a result of last year’s program,” Best said. “We’re really hoping for a similar success this year.”
For a listing of the families by last name only, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com
ATTENTION MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES:
If you would like to follow any of our First-Time Camper families on their weekend camping experience, please contact Gary Best, Bureau of Parks and Lands interpretive specialist, at 287-5976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org