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State Parks Department offers Camping 101

If you want to take your family camping, but don't have the first clue how to do it, you can get some help starting this weekend.

The Arizona State Parks Department is offering its Arizona Family Camp-out Program.

"Basically we want to give them Camping 101," said Nicole Armstrong-Best, the Family Camp-out program director for the Arizona State Parks Department. "We want to help them figure out what kind of tents they should be using, how to set them up, the best place to set them up. All of those things that make people nervous about trying something new."

"Going on guided hikes, mountain biking, fishing clinics, and archery at every camp-out" are just a few of the activities campers will be doing while at the lessons.

It will start this weekend at Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction. In future weeks, the program will be held at Dead Horse Ranch in Cottonwood, Kartchner Cavers in Benson, Patagonia Lake in Patagonia, and Catalina State Park in Tucson.

The cost is $65 for a family of four, and additional family members are $5 dollars apiece. You can also register for the program online.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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