As I young adult I spent a lot of time camping with my friends. I only really have fond memories of those trips although some are a bit fuzzy as drinking was definitely a part of it.
I have always loved it and really wanted it to be something my own family did.
But... I am also fortunate enough to have friends and relatives with cottages so myself and my family became accustomed to some luxury in the bush so to speak.
Trying to convince ourselves that there was value in spending time on the ground, in a tent exposed to the elements was tough. We did finally give it a whirl and now we have gone every summer for the past 3 years and I hope some of the lessons we learned may help others.
Lesson 1) Ensure you get a reasonable nights sleep
As a general rule I find sleeping in a tent uncomfortable. A small confined space that is usually very dark - bad for someone who is claustrophobic. If you are car camping bring whatever you need to make your camp meet your comfort requirements. For us that means a large cabin style tent, an air mattress, a cot and a sleeping pad.
Lesson 2) Figure out what you need in a campground before you book
The Ontario Parks website is awesome - you can search for a place to camp through the lens of many filters. Want a roof over your head? Want a quiet radio free zone? Want to fish or hike? All of these things are searchable. For my family we want a lake to swim in, a comfort station and a camp site with a fire pit. Sure we have other requirements but you get the point.
Lesson 3 - Pack some fun
A trip to the dollar store or Walmart ahead of your trip can really save a trip. A few items we have loved are: Jiffy Pop, Marshmallows, Pocket Sized Jenga, Beach Ball and floating rings (at Awenda this summer I personally spent an hour trying to ride the surf on a child's sized floatie). This year we also brought hotdogs purely to made roasted Spider and Octopus Dogs (google it)
Lesson 4 - Pinterest rocks
This is not the manliest of admissions but hey I am not really anyone's idea of manly. I love Pinterest - I use it to research everything including camping. Meal idea's, how to tie a tarp, the perfect car camping box and a list of the Top 10 provincial parks for families are all there. Here is a link to my camping board https://www.pinterest.ca/agordon0984/camping/ And while you are I also have a fishing board you can follow.
Lesson 5 - Bring a Friend
So my daughter is an only child and while maybe its not for everyone we have found bringing along one of her friends or cousins really enhances the trip - for all of us. The fact that my daughter has someone to swim with, go for a little hike and play Jenga is awesome.
For my family camping has become a must do every summer. We continue to explore ways to make it more comfortable and may even look into a Yurt at Bon Echo next summer. Living in the city we have found that spending time a bit disconnected, cooking on an open fire and just being a little closer to nature truly refreshes us.
Sitting around the fire at night seems to really make sleeping in a tent slightly uncomfortable worth it