AUGUSTA, Maine — In anticipation of this year’s camping season, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands again is offering its First Time Campers raffle program to Maine residents who want to try their hand at camping.
Now in its fourth year, the First Time Campers program will randomly select 44 Maine families to win a free weekend of camping this summer at one of 11 Maine state park campgrounds, according to a press release. The raffle is open only to Maine families who have never before gone camping. Each selected family will get the free use of camping equipment, receive gifts from sponsors and be supported throughout the weekend by park staff.
This year, the number of selected families has been increased, according to BPL officials. One of those families also will be the grand-prize recipient of a $1,000 gift certificate from the program’s major sponsor, L.L. Bean.
“We really want to get people out to enjoy Maine’s parks, so they get to experience what the state of Maine has to offer,” said Sebago Lake State Park Manager Andy Haskell, who this year is organizing the BPL program. “We really want people to leave the technology, computers and TVs behind and get out and enjoy nature. There’s so much benefit to camping. It’s about making family memories, and it’s also good for the soul.”
The program, part of BPL’s “Take It Outside” initiative, is sponsored this year by L.L. Bean, Kittery Trading Post, Coleman, Hannaford, Oakhurst Dairy, Wicked Joe Coffee and Poland Springs.
Raffle applications are available online and at Maine state parks. They will be accepted from now to May 31. The recipient families will be chosen in a random drawing held on Friday June 3, with the families notified the week of June 6. There will be four weekends of camping from which winners can choose, from July 15-16 to Aug. 5-6.
The state park campgrounds include: Bradbury Mountain, Pownal; Rangeley Lake, Rangeley; Aroostook, Presque Isle; Camden Hills, Camden; Sebago Lake, Naples; Mt. Blue, Weld; Cobscook Bay, Edmunds Township; Lamoine, Ellsworth; Peaks-Kenny, Dover-Foxcroft; Lily Bay, Beaver Cove; and Lake St. George, Liberty.
Each family will receive camping equipment to use for the weekend, plus four sleeping bags they can keep. They also receive gift certificates and some food items for the weekend from program sponsors.
Activities and programs will be held at each participating state park campground, Haskell said. Park staff help the families set up camp and learn basic camping techniques.
For more information about the First Time Campers program or to get an application, call Andy Haskell, park manager, Sebago Lake State Park, at: 207-693-6231.
Or go to: www.take-it-outside.com.
For more information about Maine state parks and historic sites, go to: http://www.parksandlands.com.