Canada 150: 15 random thoughts on camping

This post is based on BC provincial campgrounds. Apologies to all the other provinces and territories – we’ll get to you later.

  1. Why camping? We are doing for recreation what people did to survive barely a century ago: hauling our own water, working by lantern light at night, cooking over a simple stove or fire. It seems a bit crazy.
  2. I love the wooden animals at the entrance to many of the provincial parks. They make for great family photos.

  3. It is good to have a nose around the neighbourhood just to see how everyone else copes enjoys their camping experience. We learned lots, including you don’t have to report someone who looks like they’re ignoring the province-wide campfire ban: it’s just propane! Yes, we are newbies.
  4. A lot of people do it.

    How word gets around in a campsite.
  5. There is always a level of dust, mud, grass or pine needles to deal with.
  6. It never feels so good to wash your feet at the end of the day (see number 5). Methods vary and are often disputed.
  7. I have made my peace with pit toilets.
  8. Provincial campsites in BC have a quiet time of 10 pm. And at 10 pm the campsite is… quiet. So quiet. It is unbelievable. Darkness closing in because the campsites are in forest may have something to do with it, but the talking, the rattling, the kid sounds are done. “What?!!!” I asked my husband. “They’re Canadians!” was his response.
  9. Somehow melamine makes camping prettier, in a vintage-y chic sort of way. 

  10. Some food just has to be eaten on camping trips. S’mores for sure. And those individual boxes of cereal or the packets of instant oatmeal in some great cinnamon, spicy flavours. My kids didn’t know until this year – I know, I’ve been remiss! – that those little cereal boxes are perforated in the shape of the letter I and if you carefully cut through it, you can pour milk straight in and use the box as your bowl. Neato. 

  11. Three words I never thought I’d hear on a campground: “Americano or latte?”
  12. Tents are so much easier than they used to be. Once upon a time, my sister, a friend and I hiked a kilometre in to Schooner Cove at Pacific Rim National Park to camp (when you could camp there), but it took several trips each, with all our gear plus a huge old canvas tent and all the poles. But those tents really did smell like camping, didn’t they?
  13. My memories of camping trips are almost always based on photographs, but there is one memory I have that isn’t (in those days who would have stopped to take out the camera? In these days, someone would have filmed it, for sure): my two cousins and I, ages three, four and five, set off on an expedition to the forest area surrounding our campsite in Manning Park. Our mission? To chop down a tree with a handy piece of wood that our fearless leader, Daryl, my older, but shorter, cousin wields. We tromp through the scrub brush, meander down a fallen tree, hop off, one by one. In doing so, we disturb a very large hornets’ nest. We have never run so fast. My cousins each get a sting on the bum. I escape untouched, but my two year old sister who’s been following us, largely unnoticed, is in the wrong place at the very wrong time. She stands rooted to the spot and screams. Mayhem ensues. Adults rush in. My mother counts over 20 stings on my sister’s unfortunate head alone. My aunt, the nurse, comes to the rescue. I feel lucky. The tree is unscathed, and could even still be standing.
  14. Some of the sites in BC’s provincial campgrounds are so well-maintained that you can hardly get a tent peg into the ground, proving perhaps that some things can be just too good.
  15. It is a lot of work but there are golden moments: falling asleep to the sound of waves or stream, waking and seeing only old growth forest through the tent windows.


This is part of my series of 150 things in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Other posts include our the sweetness that is Nanaimo Bars, Canadian adventure highlights, quirky facts, all-Canadian tastes and great Canadian destinations.



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