Ever since I was little I have loved camping. When I grew up I always tried to go at least once a year, and now that I have children it is no different; I love camping with them. I could start this article by telling you how good camping, and being in contact with the nature is, but the truth is that we just do it for fun.
If you are the kind of person that doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in a tent, that’s ok. You may find that there are many different options to experience the outdoors without having to endure something you don’t enjoy: from a day trip to yurts, cabins or cottages. If you are new to camping in Canada you can visit camping resources and follow the guide on the right.
I normally make my bookings online one or two months before the season, but Reservations at Ontario parks can be made up to 5 months in advance. For very popular campgrounds, I find that 3 months is more than enough, although, if you are looking for a specific spot inside the park, you might want to book it earlier.
When I make a reservation I always try to find a campsite that is near a “comfort station”. Having the showers, toilets and even laundry facilities nearby is a great plus when you go with little ones. Be aware that some campgrounds are very big and what seems near might be a long distance to walk.
Having a town nearby is always desirable, you can get a pizza for a quick, easy dinner or buy something you have forgotten, but the best way not to forget anything is to make a list. Here are two links that might be helpful: Camping items, Daily meals.
We also encourage our children to bring a small backpack. They love packing their favourite toys and books. They can bring anything they want as long as it fits in their backpacks.
Once we are there, we try to stick to our normal sleeping and mealtime routines as much as possible. Sometimes it is hard, but we just “go with the flow”. I always have snacks on me just in case!
If you are planning on camping every year, you might want to invest in good camping gear.
These are some of our favourite products, so far:
1. Lantern: This is the best one we’ve had (and we’ve tried many). The light is bright, but dimmable. We bought two of them a few years ago and they are still working perfectly.
2. Mattresses: We find that sleeping on an air mattress is much better, especially for the kids. Everyone gets a better rest. The Shrunks bed is by far the best one we’ve seen for toddlers. This version comes with a sleeping bag and pump, but you can purchase it by itself as well. If you are looking for a cheaper option, Intex also have a great travel bed for children. For us, we have used a Coleman queen air mattress since we started camping in Canada and so far we haven’t had any problems. (That model doesn’t seem to be available anymore).
3. Natural bug repellent: We find this one very effective. Be aware that it can’t be used for children under 3 years old. For younger children I would recommend Green Beaver. I used this for my son when he was little and it worked really well. Try to stay away from the citronella-based ones, as they don’t work as well and might be dangerous if ingested.
Every year we try to visit different campgrounds, and I’ll try to summarize our conclusions.
Campgrounds we have visited:
Beau Soleil Island: Beautiful, but too far away from anything. You need to take a 30 min boat ride to get to the island. The last time we went, the phone on the island didn’t work and we had no cell coverage.
Awenda: One of our favourites. The campsites are surrounded by big trees and the privacy is great. Of all the beaches, the last one is the best for children. Be prepared though - it takes more than 15 minutes walking to get there.
Killbear: Great surroundings. A great campground, if you don’t mind the big furry visitors at night.
The past year, on our first night, our neighbour’s car got attacked by a bear at 2:00 am and it was a bit traumatizing for adults and children. Still we decided it was just bad luck and stayed for one more night, but the bear chose to sleep next to our tent, and hearing him breathing through the thin fabric wasn’t really comforting. We left the next day.
Sandbanks: Beautiful scenery and beaches, but too crowded and very poor privacy in most of the campgrounds. I honestly expected something better.
This year you will find us at The Pinery and Inverhuron. Also we will be trying Geocaching for first time.
*This post is filled with links to make things a bit easier for you! Be sure to click on all the underlined words to find out more!