Traveler - Spring is in the Air

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

parks and rec


A monthly e-newsletter to encourage “I Can!” program participants and other families to continue learning about the outdoors.

pasque flowers by kim alan chapman

March 2018

Park Highlight: Camden State Park


camden state park beach


Located 10 miles south of Marshall, in southwest Minnesota, Camden State Park bustles with the sounds of springtime. In March, visitors to the park will hear a cacophony of birds returning to a diverse habitat of woodlands, sun-drenched prairies, grasslands, and marshes.  The air swells with the spring fragrance of the earliest blooming wildflowers, including an abundance of pasque flowers, so named because they bloom during the Paschal season (Easter).  Depending on the time of year, families will enjoy picnic areas, campgrounds (drive-in, horseback, and group), fishing, swimming, hiking, and cross-country skiing.  Throughout the year, the Friends of Camden volunteers provide occasional interpretive programs and activities.


yellow headed blackbird

The List: Bird Checklists for State Parks


Flying through the skies of Camden State Park you will find 17 species of warblers, plus many species of thrush, flycatchers, swallows and sparrows. The wooded hillsides are habitat for a large and thriving wild turkey population. The nearby Black Rush Marsh Wildlife Management Area attracts flocks of waterfowl and other waterbirds, including one of the largest breeding colonies of yellow-headed blackbirds in southwestern Minnesota.

Do you want to get more familiar with the different species of birds found at Camden State Park and throughout Minnesota?  Spring is an exciting time for bird watching as many species are returning from their southern wintering grounds.  Most state parks have a site-specific bird checklist that you can download prior to your visit.  These checklists are helpful tools that, when used alongside a photo field guide, can help you identify the birds you observe on your adventures.  

Below are links to bird checklists from a few parks.

learn more button
Find books and other resources for bird watching in Minnesota State Parks.

Game Time: Outdoors in Every Language


Encourage your family to love the outdoors by exploring a variety of activities and finding some that you enjoy together!  

Below is an outdoor action word to share with young children and non-native English speakers to build new literacy skills and to help them understand the joy of connecting with nature.

This month's outdoor action word is "arrange." Take a walk in your neighborhood or local park to find stones, sticks and other natural objects to arrange in various ways.


kids arranging stones

An excerpt from “Let’s Play Outside! 50 Ways to Connect Kids with Nature,” a project of the 2014 Collaborative Leadership Fellows Program, Rochester, Minn.

ice cleats

Traveler Tip: Keep your feet on the ground!


During early spring, the repeated freezing and thawing temperatures can make for icy and dangerous trail conditions.  To prevent a slip that could have you down on the ground with your feet in the air, consider wearing ice cleats! 

Ice cleats can be purchased at most outdoor stores and even at some state park offices.  These rubber contraptions attach to your footwear and have small spikes underneath to grip the ice and snow.   Ice cleats come in a variety of sizes, even for children.

As with any outdoor recreation activity, you are responsible for your own safety when hiking!  It is important to be aware of the trail conditions and to use common sense when out on the trails. 

learn more button
Find more hiking safety tips.

father and son hiking in forest

Discover: Smell the forest; it's good for you!


Did you know that when you visit a forest and breathe in the fresh air, you breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects?  These phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities that help plants fight disease.   Research indicates that when people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called “natural killer” cells, or NK. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. Researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.

Besides boosting our immune systems, forests also improve human health by:

  • Lowering blood pressure.   
  • Reducing stress.   
  • Improving mood.   
  • Increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD.   
  • Accelerating recovery from surgery or illness.   
  • Increasing energy level.     
  • Improving sleep.

Based on this growing field of research, a new trend called forest bathing is gaining popularity.  Forest bathing combines leisurely walks on gentle paths under a forest canopy with guided activities and meditations to help participants tune their senses to the forest.  You don’t need a nature guide to explore the forest and reap the health benefits.  You only need to unplug and step into the woods.  Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that's also free.

    learn more button
    Learn more about forest bathing and the health benefits of forests.

    mother daughter tapping maple tree

     Maple Syrup Events


    The sweet aroma of boiling maple sap will fill the air at state parks across Minnesota this month.  It's quite a process to get delicious maple syrup from the tree to your table each spring. Come to a maple syrup event and check it out for yourself. You'll enjoy some hands-on experience, and we know you'll enjoy sampling the fresh syrup!

    Check out some of these upcoming syrup events:

        learn more button
        Check out more programs and events.

        Find past issues of the Traveler.