'Let's Go Camping' events offer free gear

    Oregonians who are interested in test-driving camping — but don't possess the skills or equipment for it — now have a helping hand that not only comes with a lot of experience, but also a lot of gear.

    The Oregon State Parks Department is hosting a series of overnight camping events — including one Saturday and Sunday, July 17-18, at Valley of the Rogue State Park — that removes these common barriers for families to try camping.

    The "Let's Go Camping" events are overnight excursions for beginners. For $20, a family will get overnight camping, parking and state parks program fees, as well as free use of tents, sleeping bags, pads and other equipment.

    "It's a way for people to try the camping experience and be comfortable out there and really enjoy the experience," says Kevin Farron, the program's coordinator.

    As part of the deal, parks officials will present lessons on how to camp without leaving a trace, cooking in Dutch ovens over fires, and the 10 essentials for camping.

    Interpretive programs and outdoor activities will be offered, as well.

    Each event will be capped at 35 participants, Farron says. The Valley of the Rogue event has plenty of space available, he says.

    The parks department already has hosted three similar events at other state parks, and a "Let's Go Camping" event was planned Saturday at Silver Falls State Park east of Salem.

    In all, 13 of these events are planned through the summer and early fall, with a program offered Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 18-19, at Bullards Beach State Park near Bandon.

    To register, call Reservations Northwest at 1-888-953-7677.

    The parks department also is looking for seasoned campers who might wish to volunteer their skills at one of the programs while getting to camp free of charge. For volunteer opportunities, call Jill Nishball at 503-378-4168 ext. 249 or e-mail her at jill.nishball@state.or.us.

    For additional event locations and dates, visit the parks department website at www.oregonstateparks.org.

    Farron says the program's genesis traces back to similar one-night camping opportunities offered at the Tyron Creek State Natural Area near Portland.

    The program was expanded statewide last year, "but this year it's really taken off," he says.

    The Oregon State 3-D Championship archery tournament put on annually by the Oregon Bow Hunters group will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 17-18, at the Spirit Mountain Archers course near Grand Ronde.

    Archers wishing to shoot in the annual tournament must preregister online and be a member of the OBH to qualify for awards.

    Contestants will shoot at 40 life-like, three-dimensional targets set at unmarked distances. Participants will shoot once at all targets on both days, and "money dots" worth $1,000 will be included as targets.

    Shooting begins at 8:30 a.m. each day and participants must attend the 8 a.m. shooters' meeting each day.

    The entry fee is $35 for both days. Those shooting but not participating in the events can do so for $15 a day.

    For more information on the championship and registration, visit the OBH website at www.oregonbowhunters.com.

    The Beekman Ridge 3-D Archery Shoot will take place Saturday and Sunday, July 24-25, for archers competing at the newly opened range at 15580 Butte Falls Highway.

    Participants can compete on either one or both days, with registration and shooting taking place both days from 7 a.m. to dark.

    Entry cost is $15 per person for one day or $25 for both days. Family rates are $40 for one day or $60 for both days.

    For more information on the event, call 541-951-5581.

    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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