Vimy Outdoor Pursuits – Take a Kid Camping

My son and I and some friends of ours did a canoe trip down the Athabasca River. It was a great trip; we had a mix of rain and sun and conquered some mild rapids. However on the first day, we set up camp on an island and as we were setting up our tents, my friend realized that he had forgotten his tent poles. Anyone who has ever set up a tent knows that the poles are pretty much an essential piece of equipment. As it rained in the evenings on this trip, this could have ended up being a big problem, but luckily we had packed a folding saw and a knife. Being resourceful and a little MacGyver like, we were able to fabricate some new poles out of willow branches which allowed us to set up his tent. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was livable.

Camping season is upon us and for many people the idea of spending time outside with the bugs and the rain or sleeping on the ground in a cold tent at night just isn’t that appealing. I fully understand that, but with a little preparation you can overcome most inconveniences and turn a potentially unpleasant camp trip into a fun adventure. Kids in particular, in my experience, are far more resilient than adults when it comes to camping. Kids have no trouble playing in the rain or running around outside with a few pesky Mosquitos as long as at the end of the day they have some dry clothes and a warm shelter to go to. So as adults, I think it’s our job on a camp trip to minimize those inconveniences. When I organize a camp trip, some of the key items I always pack whether I am backpacking, canoeing or just car camping are the following: a tarp for shelter from the sun and rain, a tent (that doesn’t leak), warm sleeping bags and comfortable sleeping pads, rain gear, bug spray, first aid kit, matches and then a packable saw and knife. Most people are really good about bringing food and proper clothing so I don’t really concern myself too much with those items. With these key items, you can set up a camp that can withstand a variety of weather and environmental conditions.

Camping doesn’t have to be some huge scale expedition. I have been on some extensive multi-day camp trips into some remote areas as well as many simple local overnight camp trips. Each of these trips was unique and provided great memories. So if you are new to camping, you might want to start out with a single night or weekend trip. The National Parks are free this year, so one could easily slip out to Elk Island National park for a night or even go further to Jasper or Banff for a weekend trip. There are also numerous provincial parks and private campgrounds throughout our province with some very scenic ones being only a short drive outside of the city. So this summer when you are looking for something to do, take a kid camping, with a little preparation you can have a fantastic trip and create some lasting memories.

Rob Schmidt

Outdoor Pursuits Director