This is my cabin. I took the words of one of the state parks commissioners to heart: “Not every Minnesotan can afford a country estate, so every Minnesotan should consider all of the state parks as their own country estate.”

I have been campground host at Kilen Woods State Park in Lakefield, Minn., since 2013. I grew up picnicking and camping at Minnesota state parks with Mom, Dad and brother Don. Later, I camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for several years. For my 50th birthday, I bought my tent and started car camping. I camped for 10 years in a tent and bought my dream camper, “Alyce Aliner,” in 2012. Alyce is easy to set up, easy to haul and, while light, holds up well in stormy weather with her hard sides. (In 2001, I got my first Papillon, MikFly. McQueen and Gus came along, and we camped every summer for six weeks.)

When I retired in 2013, I started hosting at Kilen Woods, which is in southwestern Minnesota. (I “practiced” as host there in 2008 and 2009.) Campground host was the first thing on my adventure list. In 2015, I became a Minnesota master naturalist, and I have been able to use my hosting duties for my volunteer hours. MikFly and McQueen are no longer with me, but Gus is, and we added Ace (he is a Russian Toy Terrier) to our family. My boys and I have completed one State Park Passport, and we are working on our second. We also have Hiking Club memberships. Camping allows me to take “the boys” with me and it is an inexpensive way to travel. We will be out at Kilen Woods in July and August again this summer. If you have not been to Kilen Woods, come on out and see us. It is quiet, with no sound or light pollution. We also are close to a number of places: Pipestone, Jeffers Petroglyphs and Blue Mounds State Park. If you have been, come see it again.

Nancy l. warren, Rochester