Can there be anything more Canadian than camping? Getting out into the great outdoors, setting up camp and enjoying the solitude just seems like a long thread in the fabric of our culture.
It’s a pastime many people grew up with. Families did it together and often the kids were enrolled in either Boy Scouts or Girl Guides, where camping skills were routinely taught and practised.
The enjoyment of the outdoors, and how you can survive comfortably in it, has been passed down from generation to generation.
That’s why it seems a little sad that National Parks staff run programs to teach people how to do it.
It’s a little sad, but not all that surprising. More and more people are filling Canadian cities and to a certain degree, going camping might not have the same appeal as it once had. It’s not necessarily an urban-versus-rural issue — either you enjoy camping, or you don’t.
On the West Shore, we have a tailor-made situation at Goldstream Provincial Park for people who want to give camping a try, but not venture far from home.
The facilities are quite civilized, with flush toilets, an outdoor theatre to take in park programs and now, a skookum playground where kids big or small can let off some of that steam from a busy week at work or school.
Taking in nature from afar deprives a person of a closer connection with the outdoors and the opportunity to decompress and disconnect from the world for a short time. There can be nothing more rewarding to be out of cell range and left to your own skills and know-how to survive in the wild — even if that wild is a groomed provincial campsite that you can drive into.
It’s true that for some people, disconnection from the world leaves them feeling nervous, vulnerable or simply cut off from their community. That distance can be enough to discourage some from taking the step into the great outdoors.
But like many things that are unfamiliar, they just need to be practised. Soon, packing up for a camping trip will become, if not second nature, then at least less of a burden, with thoughts of the relaxation ahead motivating and inspiring you.
It’s far better to accept that some people don’t have outdoor skills and need those lessons to improve their outlook when they decide the time is right to go camping.
And for many Canadians, as soon as the weather turns nice, that time is right now.