We made it, dear reader, the first long weekend of unofficial summer is here and with it an abundance of plans for backyard get-togethers, pool parties, beach hangouts, and of course camping.
Growing up in the country, our backyard was often the campground, as my parents would set up the tent, my brothers would build a fire, and I would search for roasting sticks. Spider dogs, smores, searching for constellations and sing-along songs would be our evening entertainment. Eventually, the kids would head to the tent for bed while my parents said good night and went back inside as the mattress was more comforting than the ground under our sleeping bags. As soon as the back door closed, the flashlights came on and the ghost stories shared. It was a favourite game to see who could tell the scariest story or who would be the first one to run inside for fear of monsters, ghosts and bogeymen.
In my tween and teen years, summer camping was often spent at camp where I would bunk with girls my age in musky row cabins where ghost stories became stories of crushes and grownup aspirations, and the days were carefree and full of childlike wonder. And then just like that, the days of camp life were over, and I became too cool for nature. Thankfully, that phase was short-lived, and a few years later, I tackled my first extreme camping trek and portaged through backcountry Algonquin.
These days, my camping trips are fairly easy with weekend stints at nearby provincial parks that are accessible by car and make packing a dream.
If you have never been camping, go and experience the outdoors. You will get dirty and there are bugs, but at night, when you look up and see a million stars staring back at you, you lose yourself and realize that the dirt is nothing compared to the beauty of nature.
To help with your planning, I’ve compiled a list of camping tips for a successful semi-wilderness adventure.
- Make a packing list, don’t over-pack on clothing, and socks are a must.
- If you use an air mattress, don’t forget a fitted sheet – they get very cold in the middle of the night.
- Plan easy meals, and pre-make what you can ahead of time.
- Use a Tupperware container for storing camping dishes (this will double as your sink).
- Bring a tablecloth for the picnic table – this will save eager eaters from unwanted splinters.
- Lawn chairs for fireside and the beach.
- Tiki torches or solar power string lights – creates a bit of ambiance at your campsite.
- Pack a hammock for ultimate campsite relaxation.
- String to use as a clothesline.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray.
- Wet wipes are a lifesaver.
- For play, pack lawn games, cards and a book.
- Lastly, make sure you are aware of the campground rules, as some sites are quite zones. Also know that on long weekends, most campgrounds do not allow alcohol.
If sleeping in a tent on an air mattress is not your thing, then glamourize your camping experience and go glamping. The cost is a bit more, but for luxury, it is worth it. Happy camping, friends!