For those looking to avoid the high price of gasoline without eliminating a family vacation this summer, two of the area's state parks – Locust Lake in Schuylkill County and Hickory Run in Carbon County – are among those participating in a program to attract first-time campers.

Through a promotion with Gander Mountain, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is providing first-time campers with needed gear and a reservation for two nights at a participating state park for just $20. In addition to the two area parks, 12 others are also participating in the promotion: Black Moshannon, Centre County; Caledonia, Franklin County; Colonel Denning, Cumberland County; Gifford Pinchot, York County; Keystone, Westmoreland County; Laurel Hill, Somerset County; Little Pine, Lycoming County; Ohiopyle, Fayette County; Ole Bull, Potter County; Parker Dam, Clearfield County; Pymatuning, Crawford County; and R.B. Winter, Union County.

Reservations should be made by calling the park office directly. This promotional program begins Memorial Day weekend and continue through the summer.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is partnered with Cabela's and its supporting sponsors in the "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" fishing contest, which opens Saturday, May 14, and runs through Thursday, July 14. PFBC personnel has tagged hundreds of fish for Cabela's, which is stocking fish in selected waters in states that the outdoors retailer has stores – including Pennsylvania – and anglers catching the fish will win millions of dollars in cash and prizes.

"For a low price, we're offering hands-on instruction on how to set-up camp, use of campsite gear and the chance to have fun and create some fantastic family memories," acting DCNR secretary Rick Allan said. "Camping at a state park is an affordable vacation that comes complete with many opportunities.

"State parks provide the opportunity to hike, fish, attend educational programs or just enjoy some solitude at our nationally-recognized state parks. We recognize that first-time campers may need some extra help, so park staff will help them set-up camp and provide tips on outdoor living upon arrival."

Gander Mountain is providing a four-person tent, tarp, two sleeping pads, two camp chairs, flashlight, lantern, camp stove and four hot dog/marshmallow sticks. Participants must return the gear upon departure, and will need to bring their own food, cooking utensils and bedding.

PFBC executive director John Arway said the timing of the fishing contest is perfect because it will coincide with the PFBC's Fish-for-Free Day on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, giving vacationing families more incentive to try fishing.

"The contest creates a fantastic opportunity to promote all the fishing opportunities we have in Pennsylvania to first-time anglers on our Fish-for-Free Day," Arway said. "On this day, we will hold special events at many of the selected contest waters. We will have exhibits, fishing instruction and tips, free publications and more.

"This contest – and in particular the Fish-for-Free Day – promises to be fun and exciting for all levels of anglers. Now when someone is fishing and feels that tug on their line, they may be reeling in a million dollar prize."

Fish-for-Free Days allow both resident or non-resident anglers older than the age of 16 to legally fish. No fishing license is required to fish on these days, but all other fishing regulations apply, and the second Fish-for-Free Day is Labor Day, Sept. 5.

For more information about Pennsylvania state parks, access the website at www.visitPAParks.com [1]. For more information on the "Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?" contest and Fish-for-Free days, access the PFBC website at www.fishandboat.com/fishformillions.htm [2].