How to be a happy camper: The wide-eyed beginner’s survival guide
So! You decided to go camping. Maybe he fell under a rabbit hole of influence in the desert (#campinglife #wanderlust #homeiswhereyouparkit) and you thought he would look very cute perched on the front of a canoe.
Or maybe you have a year-long vacation and it is better to spend them in your apartment without a balcony. Even trembling in the woods, the charms of the coyotes – or are they wolves ?! – as your only soundtrack, dividing a granola bar between five people, because this camp, it turns out, has no restaurant on site.
And here’s the thing about camping as an innocent beginner: It’s scary, and for every romantic chance – to call it a constellation while lying on a jersey blanket under the dancing flies – there are about 100 scary strangers. What if you can’t start a fire? How does the condition of the bathroom work? Where does one even destroy?
Relax, says Bruce Kirkby, adventure ambassador for MEC, the supplier of all things outdoor. “Do not be afraid,” reassures the wilderness driver, who grew up in Etobicoke but now lives in the mountains of BC. “Try it, we respect nature and you trust yourself.” And anyway: “You can always call time, get in the car and drive home.”
Read below for his tips for growing legions – seriously: Bookings at Ontario Parks increase by almost 100 percent year-over-year for nervous campers for the first time.
Where to camp (and how to book)
Come in early. “For your first trip, I would advise you not to camp by car,” says Kirkby, referring to a campsite where you can drive your car up. The important thing is that camping in 2021 is a competitive sport, especially if you are heading to the most popular parks (those close to big cities like Algonquin and Sandbanks).
This year, bookings on Parks Canada sites – such as Point Pelee in Ontario – will open in late April for trips starting in May. Ontario Parks sites, meanwhile, make bookings on a rolling basis, opening five months early at 7 a.m., which means you’re almost certainly too late to spend Canada Day, say, Bon Echo. But! Watch last minute cancellations or think of a smaller or more remote park.
Keep it short – and close. “One or two nights is wonderful for the first time,” Kirkby recommends. “The goal on your first trip is not to make it miserable.” Maybe save the 21-day backcountry trail when you’ve done a little practice? It is also advisable to aim somewhere within two or three hours by car, and if the forecast requires torrential rain, cancel. “This is not going to be a difficulty,” he says.
Forget the scene if you can. Scene building is just below divorce and job loss when it comes to life’s biggest stresses. (Anecdotally, that is.) Skip the tears and go straight for the “comfort camping” options.
This Parks Canada initiative has equipped sites across the country with “covered structures”. Newer facilities include Ôasis pods, which look like small cocoons, some raised in forest canopies or overlooking the water. So far, in Ontario, you can book them at the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site.
There are also oTENTiks, the pre-built love kid between a cabin and a tent, and the MicrOcube, a kind of square bunk over 100 square feet (not yet in Ontario). They are not shiny enough, but they strike a sweaty, structurally dubious scene every day.
What if you go on stage? “Try everything in your backyard,” says Kirkby. Whether you bought one or borrowed it from a friend, set up your tent at least once before you go. Ditto for the use of your campsite. “It’s a little less in the mix when the situation is a little more uncertain.”
How to survive
Dress for the bugs (and the weather). Sure, mosquitoes are annoying, but have you ever been bitten by a black fly in your throat? Edward Cullen has nothing to do with these abundant blood vessels. To avoid the worst of mistakes, Kirkby suggests camping out of the “wild” insect peak season in Ontario from June to July.
Forget the 99% DEET spray (you should do a less intense concentration) and choose long clothes and an Off spray! or other aerosol sprays. “Wear socks on your pants and a loose cotton shirt with a ballerina and a scarf around your neck. “The more you cover, the less mistakes are made,” he says. While in it, throw in a warm mattress for cooler nights.
Protect your site. “Wild animals are much more afraid of you than you are of them,” said Kirkby, who has spent much time in bear country. If you do not live in the countryside, you are more likely to encounter raccoons and mice than gray or mountain lions (although be careful of the park rules if you are in an area that concerns you).
“Food is the main thing,” Kirkby says as he avoids meeting a raccoon who opens the door to your tent in the middle of the night. “The less open you are around the campsite, the less likely the animals will be attracted to it.” Seal everything in plastic containers in your car, clean the grills after cooking and do not – I repeat, do not – store food in your tent.
Do not worry about the situ. “Don’t be afraid of the kaibo,” Kirkby laughs, using northern Ontario slang for an outhouse. “Modern facilities in the parks will exceed your expectations.” Most campsites have toilets and showers nearby that are regularly cleaned and can not be further from an impressively lean with a hole in the ground.
If you find yourself camping somewhere without even primitive amenities, Kirkby recommends digging a shallow hole to do your business (away from fresh water and at least 100 meters from the site) and then burning your toilet paper on fire when you are done . Avoid washing in lakes and rivers (and use biodegradable soap if necessary) and use wet wipes if necessary.
How to thrive
Let nature – and park service – entertain you. Are you worried about boredom? No. “We are used to planning our lives, but the nature of nature is that it will provide little things if you are careful,” says Kirkby. “Sit and watch the sunset, or listen to the call of a spoon. Cook bacon over a fire and smell the smoke. It just speaks to something inside us. “
Provincial and national park services also often have programming (this year, COVID guidelines allow), such as a howl at night to test and solve wolves or a geologist pointing out local rock formations. Explore the nearby trails and make room for calm.
The star understands the limitations of travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But like you, we dream of traveling again and publishing this story with future travel in mind.