University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Experience Outdoor Fun At Annual Family Camping Weekend

Groton--Becoming an Outdoor Family Weekend, now in its 17th year, gives families an opportunity to reconnect as they explore the outdoors and sample new activities such as geocaching, orienteering, canoeing or nature photography.

The event, which will be held May 30-June 1 at Stillwater State Park in Groton, is open to all families, but is geared to those new to camping or spending time outdoors. It's sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources' Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Forests, Parks and Recreation.

The $175 fee (for up to eight people) covers the campsite, all classes, instruction and most equipment. It also provides full access to all of the state park's facilities, including free rental of canoes and kayaks. New this year is a free, optional Sunday night stay for families interested in extending their weekend.

Registrations will be accepted until May 15 although early registration is advised as some sessions fill up quickly and tent, RV and lean-to sites are assigned on a first-come, first served basis. 

Requests for campsites adjacent to extended family or friends will be honored, space permitting. Confirmation, including campsite and class assignments, will be sent upon receipt of registration.

To register go to To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, please contact Gail Makuch at (802) 257-7967, ext. 301 or (800) 278-5480 (toll-free in Vermont) by April 30.

In addition to free time to enjoy the lake, hiking trails and other park amenities, each camper may sign up for three classes, choosing from more than three dozen options. Offerings include beginning mountain biking, basic firearm safety, outdoor wild game cooking, native wildlife and plants, various shooting sports, trail running, introduction to archery, advance kayaking, raptors in our backyard and wilderness survival, along with numerous other choices.

Among the activities offered for the first time this year are fly fishing, skeet shotgun, bat house construction, duck head decoy painting, making a walking stick and a competition shoot. New environmental education classes for younger kids include a forest scavenger hunt and a session on exploring sounds in nature.

On Saturday afternoon staff from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum in Marlboro will present a program on raptors with live owls and hawks along with touchable artifacts. The weekend also features a bottle rocket-making station and evening bottle rocket launch and a community potluck supper with hamburgers and hot dogs. Families are asked to bring a dish to share.

Returning families who encourage a new family to register for the weekend will be entered in the Refer-a-Family drawing for a free weekend stay at any Vermont state park, courtesy of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. Complete details can be found in the registration booklet.

For questions about the weekend, contact Debbie Fajans, UVM Extension youth and family specialist, at (802) 257-7967, ext. 306, or (800) 278-5480 (Vermont calls only) or by e-mail at