Learn to Camp with Ontario Parks

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

Grizzly Bear Campsite Fun

If you’re reading this site, chances are you’ve got a yearning for the outdoors. But after years and years of trying to pry some of my friends out camping, I get that the idea of relying on your city-grown wits to navigate a weekend of tenting, lighting a fire, cooking on a camp stove, etc., can seem daunting to the uninitiated. Forget enjoying it – surviving it would be success by many people’s standards.

Well, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way, and Ontario Parks aims to provide that knowledge through their Learn to Camp program. I originally wrote about this program back in 2011 when they first introduced it, and I noticed the other day that they’ve now introduced a “graduate program”, that teaches more advanced camping techniques.

The original 1- or 2- night Overnight Camping Experience, aimed at the 25% of Ontarians who have never spent a night in the woods, provides:

  • All the equipment required to camp (participants are responsible for food, sleeping bag, and personal items)
  • A campsite for up to 6 participants, including children
  • Scheduled learning sessions and family-friendly activities led by experienced staff
  • Access to flush toilets, hot showers and safe drinking water
  • Campfire treats
  • Near Ottawa the course is available at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, plus: Emily Provincial Park, which is just west of Peterborough.
  • 1 night / 2 day program: $86.00 +HST
  • 2 night / 3 day program: $130.75 +HST

This is a great way for newbies to get started!

And now they can augment their skills further through Ontario Parks by trying the Independent Camping Experience.

The independent camping experience is offered only at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, a solid 5½ hour drive from Ottawa, past North Bay. A long drive maybe, but this experience is your opportunity to practice a camping trip on your own while still having access to all the equipment you need.

They give you the same gear and let you try camping anywhere from 1 to 7 whole nights, but you’ve still got to bring your own food, sleeping bag, and this time firewood and ice, too.

I love this initiative from Ontario Parks to get more people out camping, even though I know it means more crowded campsites – a major pet peeve of mine!

What do you think about this plan? Know someone who should sign up?


Gatineau Park Overnighter in the Four Season Tents at Lac Philippe

Our all-season tent in Gatineau Park: site 258

Our all-season tent in Gatineau Park: site 258

A few of us decided pretty close to Easter to look for an easy, one-night/two-day trip we could do in a cabin or yurt with a couple little kids, and a quick search led us instead to the four season tents at Lac Philippe in Gatineau Park, mainly because a handful were still available.

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Lansdowne Park Skating Court Closes After First Season

Lansdowne Park Skating Court - Photo from Ottawa Sun

Lansdowne Park Skating Court – Photo from Ottawa Sun

The Skating Court at Lansdown Park closed yesterday, after it’s first season open at the newly renovated plaza.

The skating rink opened on December 2 and was open for 114 days of skating, during which time more than 10,000 skaters enjoyed a fun, inner-city skating rink right.

Come summer the Skating Court will be converted to basketball courts.

If you’re still looking for some skating – in balmy 15 sunny degrees as it is outside right now – the refrigerated ice pad located at the Sens Rink of Dreams at City Hall is still open!


Best Pictures of the Northern Lights Over Ottawa Last Night

Outer space treated us folks in Canada’s lower latitudes to a rare sight over the past two nights: the Northern Lights about as brilliant as you’ll ever see them around here!

Browsing around twitter found a few really sweet pics, so I thought I’d share a few:

This celestial display is the result of two massive solar flares from the surface of the sun on Tuesday morning, sending a serious can of geomagnetic whoopass our way at about 10-million miles an hour. When the storm hit Earth over the last couple days … you get the Northern Lights over Ottawa like we did last night.

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R&R at Dwight and Lucy’s Yurt in the Lone Wolf Forest

Dwight and Lucy's yurt and kitchen

Dwight and Lucy’s yurt in the Lone Wolf Forest

I discovered this Dwight and Lucy’s yurt by accident last year as I was Google-stalking a friend’s cottage; at a certain zoom level the label popped up for “Dwight and Lucy’s Yurt”, and after a little more searching I found the Lone Wolf Forest website and had committed in my head to checking it out. A few cozy days alone with my girlfriend, deep in the forest, keeping warm by fire, enjoying nature… what could be more enticing? It took exactly zero convincing to get Erica on board, and a couple weekends ago we hit it up! Continue reading

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