By JOSH BENDER
Capital News Service
LANSING — To attract new visitors and save money, many state parks in Michigan and across the Great Lakes region are updating utilities and campsites and creating programming for less traditional visitors. That includes seek growth in usership by trying to attract non-campers. For example, those participating in Michigan’s First Time Camper program and Ontario’s Learn to Camp program arrive to a fully set-up campsite with park employees to guide them. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with camping goods manufacturer North Face and retailer Gander Mountain to provide free equipment for the department’s two-night camping program, said Ron Olson, the department’s parks and recreation chief. DNR’s Rec 101 programs teach new campers such skills as kayaking, paddleboarding, mountain biking and geocaching, he said.