First Time Campers

July 7, 2009 Gander Mountain

For a $20 rental fee, you'll get a tent and some gear needed for a two night stay. When you check-in, a park ranger will walk you through the process of setting up camp and settling in. While the campers won't get to keep the gear they use, Gander Mountain will be offering discounts on the equipment you'll be trying. Vehicle fees to state parks and camping fees still apply.

Gear provided by Gander Mountain for each participating location:

  • 1 tent
  • 1 tarp
  • 2 camp chairs
  • 1 flashlight
  • 1 lantern
  • 1 stove
  • 4 hot dog/marshmallow cookers
  • 2 fishing poles

15 State Parks in Michigan are participating in the program.

Anyone interested in camping for the first time, should contact the participating park or recreation area directly. Each location will be offering a tent camp, a mini-cabin, a yurt or a combination. For more information on the campgrounds, visit

  • Baraga State Park
  • Bay City Recreation Area
  • Bewabic State Park
  • Cheboygan State Park
  • Hayes State Park
  • Hoffmaster State Park
  • Holly Recreation Area
  • Muskegon State Park
  • Pinckney Recreation Area
  • Pontiac Lake Recreation Area
  • Port Crescent State Park
  • Sleeper State Park
  • Traverse City State Park
  • Wells State Park
  • Young State Park

To learn more about the first-time campers program, visit or call (888) 78-GREAT.

Hints for First-Time Campers


  • Michigan is known for its unpredictable weather. Check the weather forecast for the area.
  • Plan your trip--know about the area and how to get there. Check out for location tips, etc.
  • Take enough food, clothing, and equipment to keep you comfortable in case of emergency.
  • Notify others of where you will be, and when you plan to be home, in case someone needs to find you.
  • If you are a beginning camper, contact your local camping outfitter for a general checklist of camping equipment.

Personal Safety

  • Prevent animals from getting into your food. Consider placing it in your vehicle, or hanging it in a tree (12' high, 4' from tree trunk).
  • State forest campground wells are approved by Michigan Department of Public Health.
  • Keep a few logs in your tent to keep them dry.
  • Always bring extra matches.


  • Be careful with your campfire -- keep it small.
  • Be a good neighbor -- control your noise and pets.
  • Be respectful of your state forest -- keep the trees and shrubs alive and growing.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash no longer that 6 feet, and away from public swimming areas.

The 'No Impact' Camper follows these guidelines to insure that today's forest and campground resources are available to tomorrow's users:

  • If you carry it in, please carry it out. This will eliminate litter.
  • Camp in a designated campsite within designated campgrounds, unless you have obtained an undesignated camping permit.
  • Protect water sources from contamination.
  • Use biodegradable soap, or try hot water soap less dishwashing, bathing and clothes washing.
  • When using soap (even biodegradable) and toothpaste, do so at least 100' away from natural water sources and well or faucet water sources.
  • Prevent forest fires.
  • Keep fires small.
  • Have water available to extinguish the fire properly.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Maintain a 10' diameter and debris-free area around the fire.
  • Make sure ashes are cold when you leave a fire.
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