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Continued: For Minnesotans, camping is a rich tradition that is ever evolving

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 29, 2014 - 2:26 PM

“What does this next generation really want? They’re not as engaged in the outdoors as baby boomers. That’s why we are adding Wi-Fi to parks and adding camper cabins and yurts. We’re looking at more walk-in and backpacking sites. People seem to want more seclusion.

“We don’t know what will happen to car camping. I assume it will continue at some level, but it’s likely in the future we will be giving people more a sense of wilderness or adventure.’’

Regardless, camping is expected to remain a cherished Minnesota tradition.

“Camping creates memories in a way that a day trip just doesn’t,’’ Arndt said.

A camping tradition

Pat Coleman remembers his first camping trip to northern Minnesota’s boundary waters.

“We had a canvas pup tent,’’ he said. “It had two interior poles, and every time you rolled over in your sleeping bag, you knocked a pole and the tent collapsed.’’

But there were advantages to sleeping beneath canvas.

“It’s the most fragrant smell in the world,’’ he said. “If they could bottle that in a cologne,” he added, trailing off.

That was more than 40 years ago, and nylon long ago replaced canvas. Modern materials have created better sleeping bags, cooking equipment and clothing. And, of course, the advent of recreational trailers and vehicles has allowed campers to bring the conveniences of home to a campground.

But despite the improvements, camping remains, well, camping. The allure is strong. For Coleman, an annual trip to the boundary waters is essential. “It’s something you have to do,” he said, “or you feel you’ve missed something.’’


Doug Smith • 612-673-7667


  • related content

  • Camping at Itasca State Park, 1957.

  • The Jerome Segals of St. Paul pitched their tent at one of Minnesota's private campgrounds in 1970.

  • Men posed outside their tent circa 1940.

  • From Minnesota Historical Society: Tent mounted on top of a station wagon, Sportsmen's Show, 1958.

  • From Minnesota Historical Society: Camping scene, White Bear Lake, 1895.

  • From Minnesota Historical Society: Camping out near Moose Lake, east of Ely, circa 1947

  • A woman demonstrated the latest in wilderness comfort circa 1968: collapsible cooking gear and an easily erected tent. Modern materials continue to create better tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and clothing.

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