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River Falls camping veterans tell all for new explorers

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Lifelong campers (from left) Debbie Cattrell, Gary Cottrell, Jim Border and Diana Border.2 / 6
Viola and Norbert Brandt have been camping for the last 48 years, in tents, hardshell tents, tent campers and now their motorhome. "We leave home sometimes in April and we don't return home until the first of November and we're just gone all summer," Norbert said. During these long expeditions, the couple typically stays at national parks and state parks, where they can get some bicycling in. 3 / 6
Doug Hultman is a first time camper and from River Falls. "The weather has been a pretty big challenge," he said, referring to the week's severe thunderstorms. Besides that, he has enjoyed camping and cooking outside. "I like nice, fresh air."4 / 6
Hoffman Park is a pay-per-night camp ground located at 547 Hanson Dr. near the hospital.5 / 6
The Flanscha family goes to Hoffman Park regularly and picks it for its close location to Luis Flascha's family. Here, his children (from left) Quinton, Emily and Blane eat lunch with his wife Nicole.6 / 6

Year round, in sun, storm or rain, campers can be found huddled around campfires or sprawled out in the sun. When it comes to spending time with Mother Nature, there are some definite do's and don'ts.

For two groups of campers at Hoffman Park who meet on a yearly basis to share campfire marshmallows and company, Gary and Debbie Cottrell, and Jim and Diana Border, camping has turned into a lifestyle.

The Borders camp during the week to avoid crowds. They have traveled across the country in their small camper, which Diana called a "step above a tent."

The Cottrells have a bigger camper than the Borders, but still like reconnecting with nature.

Unless it is storming, they said they don't spend much time inside enjoying its modern amenities, like the television, even when camping with their four grandchildren.

Here are some tips both couples offered:

DO play outside

DO cook outside

DO be prepared

DO plan the experience

DO NOT be disrespectful

Hoffman Park is a first-come-first serve, 15-site camping area that charges $15 a night per space that averages 300 camping parties a season.

"A lot of the people who come here are probably retired people," said Cindi Danke, city of River Falls recreation coordinator. "You do get the families that come out, sometimes they are from town and they just want to have the camping experience."

She said people camping at Hoffman Park are friendly to one another and excited to meet the other campers.

For more information about camping at Hoffman Park, visit contact Danke at 715-425-0924.

See the July 11 edition of the Journal for the full article.