WINDSOR – The first item Janet Saxton intends to purchase is a portable hammock.

Saxon and her partner, Jeffrey Young, who live in Windsor, were chosen as grand prize winners this month in a First Time Campers lottery sponsored by the state Department of Conservation and L.L. Bean.

The hammock should be an easy get with the $1,000 she won.

Jeanne Curran of the state Department of Conservation said more than 1,300 Maine families entered the raffle.

Curran said 40 families — including Saxton’s — were selected to receive a free weekend of camping at one of Maine’s state park campgrounds this year, the program’s third.

The program is designed to encourage Maine families who have never before camped to enjoy the experience. Families enter their names into a drawing. Each winning family receives loaned equipment and help learning camping skills, and is entered into the grand prize drawing.

Saxton and Young chose Rangeley Lake State Park for their trip.

They enjoyed themselves so much, she said, they returned two other occasions after their July 9-10 free weekend.

Saxton said she never dreamed they would win and was “blown away” by the generous gift from L.L. Bean.

“A hundred bucks is nice, but $1,000?” Saxton said. “That’s really generous. Of course, when you think about what you’re going to buy, the thing I want is the portable hammock. You don’t need any trees. You just put it in the sun and lay on it. That’s something you wouldn’t get on your own. So it’s like wow!”

L.L. Bean has sponsored the program the past three years.

“One of the things we do best is to help people enjoy the outdoors,” said Janet Wyper, L.L. Bean community relations manager, who drew the winning name. “So if we can partner with the state of Maine to assist Maine families enjoying their first camping experience, that is great accomplishment.”

Curran said families selected in the lottery received provisions from the program’s sponsors, including sleeping bags from L.L. Bean, water from Poland Spring, coupons from Oakhurst Dairy, coffee from Wicked Joe, and a gift certificate from Hannaford.

They also were able to use other camping equipment provided by L.L. Bean, Coleman and Kittery Trading Post. Park staff teach camping basics such as how to set up a campsite.

“My boyfriend never camped,” Saxton said. “I camped when I was in the Girl Scouts, but never in a tent. We picked Rangeley because we always go fishing there and we liked that facility. You can leave your boat in if you like. Rangeley has trails. It’s clean. And it’s a friendly environment.”

Saxton, 55, a retired state employee and rural letter carrier, said the staff at Rangeley also was very accommodating toward their dog, Sam.

Maine Department of Conservation Commissioner Eliza Townsend said the program is meant to reconnect families to the outdoors.

“Best of all, we know it is successful, because we see these same families continue to make reservations to return to our state park campgrounds,” Townsend said.

Young, 60, a semi-retired jack-of-all-trades, said he never liked tent camping. But he said this experience has made him a true believer in the joys of pitching a tent.

“I really enjoyed myself,” Young said. “It was very comfortable for me. I love the outdoors anyway. We fish all the time. We go from lake to lake, fishing. And camping has made it a lot easier to get in and out.”

Besides the free-standing hammock, Young said he would like to buy a couple of grills and folding chairs.

He still can’t believe they won the grand prize.

“I couldn’t believe out of all the eligible people we won,” he said. “But we’ve had a pretty lucky year so far. Things have been going pretty well for some reason. In fact, I’m thinking about going and buying a Megabucks ticket.”

For more information about the program, go to