Campers pack state parks this weekend - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Campers pack state parks this weekend

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It's open house weekend at all South Dakota state parks and recreation areas. The weekend is to encourage families to put down the electronics and get out and enjoy nature.

The sun was shining on Saturday at Newton  Hills State Park in Canton.

Although it's opening weekend for campers, getting ready for campers is a year-round process. There's no downtime says John Dummer, the park's assistant manager. 

More than 100,000 visitors each year make their way through the park. Last year, state parks saw record numbers of campers. Dummer says the number of campers this weekend at Newton Hills is already ahead of where the park was last year. 

An incentive for guests this weekend -- you don't need to worry about buying a park entrance license for your car. You can use all the park's natural resources without being charged an entrance fee.

"We're not charging an entrance fee for our parks. We're actually offering visitors a free fishing license. Basically anyone who wants to come fishing out here and doesn't have a fishing license doesn't need one for this weekend. They can fish for free," said Dummer.

One Mitchell family took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend camping out at Newton Hills State Park.

"When we're out here, there aren't any chores so you can actually sit back and relax and enjoy your family," said Lyle Haring, father of five.

For the Haring family, flying somewhere for vacation is not an option. With five kids, it's too lofty of a price tag. Instead, the family purchased a camper last year. Their goal -- spend a weekend at every state park.

"You get away from all the electronics and the television and all that stuff and you just get to be outdoors in the nature and explore. All winter long my kids have been asking when are we going to go camping, we are when going to go camping," said Jennifer Haring, mother of five.

This is the first time the Haring family visited Newton Hills State Park, where campsites this weekend have been book for quite some time now.

"We've always wanted to come here and we kind of of got lucky. I think someone canceled on this site. We looked last night and it was available and we took it," said Jennifer.

For Lyle Haring, father of five, he remembers going camping with his parents when he was his kids' ages.
"It's been a great opportunity to share that with my kids and hopefully they'll grow to enjoy it and want to camp when they get older," said Lyle.

And Newton Hills Sate Park is just one of the Haring's first stops of the camping season.
"Oh lets see, where are we going next? Oh yeah, we're going to Farm Island next," said Jennifer.

Lyle and Jennifer hope to pass the tradition of camping onto their kids.
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