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Outdoor Campus West: Free Family Fun!

Rapid City is minutes away from the Black Hills and all the outdoor adventure that it holds for you and your family. You don’t even have to leave city limits to climb or ride your way to an extraordinary view! Before lacing up your boots and hitting the trails with your family, I’d encourage you plan a trip to the Outdoor Campus West. Trust me, you’ll be amazed and everything you’ll learn at this FREE local favorite.

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The core mission of the Outdoor Campus is to provide education about outdoor skills and wildlife. While that could easily be addressed with a couple pamphlets, books, or signs, they take it to an entirely new level by letting you experience the outdoors in a hands on, guided environment. Inside you’ll find large, interactive displays that allow children to touch, see, and read about the wildlife that is native to South Dakota and the Black Hills. Outside there are well-maintained trails lined with signage, a tree house the kids can climb up to, and even an outdoor “kitchen” where mud pies are taken to an entirely new level.

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One of the coolest things that they offer at the Outdoor Campus are their FREE “try-it” events. From learning to shoot a cross bow to paddling a canoe on their pond, you and your family can try something new, for FREE, while be taught by their knowledgeable staff. Oh, and have a mentioned yet that it’s free?

I attended the Family Try-it Canoeing and Kayaking day on May 21 with my nieces and their parents. We had a BLAST! I had never been kayaking before, but had always been interested in trying it with all the gorgeous lakes we have around the Hills. This event was a great time to test it out before making the big investment of buying a kayak and the appropriate equipment needed. Our group of 6 ranged in age from 5 to 33 and I can confidently say no one walked away disappointed.

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In addition to the arm workout we got paddling around the pond, we also had fun trying to spot snapping turtles on the rocks and the fish in beneath us. We ventured under the bridge hunting for buried treasure and, of course, experienced the reality that life on the water means getting a little wet! The staff and volunteers were more than willing to answer any questions we had and coach us through our maiden voyage. There was no time limit on how long we could be out there – but our arms told us when it was time for a break. I also enjoyed the fact that we could try both the kayak and canoe as well as learn about the different options you would have if you were seeking to buy one for yourself.

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This was my first class/try-it event I’ve attended at the Outdoor Campus West, but I can guarantee you it won’t be the last! To be honest, I’m amazed this stuff is free. With the amount of knowledge and hands-on experience we received, I would have been willing to pay.The Outdoor Campus West offers classes and try-it days throughout the year find all of their events here

Get ready to #DoBigThings on your Rapid City trip with a visit to the Outdoor Campus West. Don’t forget to share your experience with #VisitRapidCity!

Meet the Author

Shiloh Francis

With coffee in one hand, a camera in the other and her four-legged sidekick, Taz by her side, Shiloh loves getting out and exploring Rapid City. Her favorite things about Rapid City include the great dining scene, coffee shops and ease of access to the hiking trails within the city and the Black Hills.

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Shiloh Francis
Guest Blogger

With coffee in one hand, a camera in the other and her four-legged sidekick, Taz by her side, Shiloh loves getting out and exploring Rapid City. Her favorite things about Rapid City include the great dining scene, coffee shops and ease of access to the hiking trails within the city and the Black Hills.

Shiloh is a transplant to Rapid City, having fallen in love with the area during family vacations and deciding to make it her permanent vacation after graduating from college. Traveling and discovering new places has always been a passion for Shiloh, but she loves the site of coming home to Rapid City each time the plane lands at the end of one of her adventures. Despite now being considered a local, she doesn’t let that stop her from taking time to play “tourist” in her own backyard. Shiloh is your go-to source for pup-spiration (all things pet-friendly), the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or great bite to eat, and helping you find those hidden gems on your next vacation.

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