Learn to Camp logo, Sibbald Point campsite

The inside scoop on Learn to Camp

Today’s post is a first-hand account from one of our stellar Learn to Camp families. Find out what it’s like to “get your feet wet” at Ontario Parks.

Our first experience with the Learn to Camp program was last summer at Darlington, where we stayed one night / two days.

sign: Sibbald Point LTC base campFollowing our first experience, we intended to plan future camping events as we had learned so much and gained so much confidence in a brief period of time.

But the year went by so quickly! We didn’t have the opportunity to plan something on our own, so my husband and I decided we would do the program one more time, as a refresher. However, this time our son Gabriel insisted that we commit to two nights. And commit we did!

Our family was prepared and ready to go to Sibbald Point for our second Learn to Camp experience. We had been through the program before and thought we knew what to expect.

Mother Nature had other plans for us.

In retrospect, I am glad it rained.  It taught us that no matter how much you plan or how well you pack, you cannot predict what may or may not happen on a camping trip.

This is where the amazing Learn to Camp team and the wonderful staff at Sibbald Point came into play.

boy and Ontario Parks staff putting up tent
Gabriel and Jenna putting up the tent

Our Learn to Camp team of Jenna and Tessa were so encouraging, engaging and supportive. Their personalities, skill level and knowledge-base were all greatly appreciated and so very timely considering the weather conditions that particular weekend.

roasting marshmallows over fireOne of my favourite moments (and there are too many to list them all) is when — on the first night — we had some challenges getting the fire going and we asked Jenna to assist. She was so meticulous and diligent. She kept at it calmly, despite the rain. When someone offered her some newspaper, she politely declined it and continued to work on getting the fire started in the manner in which she had earlier instructed us to do.

She did it.  We had fire!  It was like watching a well-choreographed dance.

Father and son tying knots
Father and son practicing their new knot-tying skills

When Katie (the Learn to Camp coordinator) noted that these two individuals had only been on the job for three weeks, we were all shocked! They seemed so at ease in their roles and managed to keep our group focused despite the varying age range and experience levels. Katie also took the time to get to know our family.

I feel like we met these three individuals for a reason. Sounds abstract, but it’s one of those “you had to be there” experiences.  Trust me.

I learned a few key things from camping and from this experience as a whole:

  1. The importance of preparation and set up, which makes the entire process run relatively smoothly from start to finish.
  2. Being conscious of one’s surroundings and respectful of nature.
  3. Appreciating the accomplishments and new skills learned (like how to tie a Daisy Knot, which I learned from Jenna).
  4. How lucky I was to have had it rain so that I was able to reach out to Jenna and Tessa to assist me in “tarping” the tent. I honestly think this is what kept me feeling safe and secure, and gave me peace of mind during the entire stay.
  5. How resilient my six-year-old son is. If it wasn’t for him, I may have considered leaving after the first night of heavy rain. He is our strength and our motivation.
  6. Most importantly, we learned that next time we will be able to do it on our own based on what we were privileged to have taken away from this amazing program.
boy on sunny beach
Beach time with Gabriel on sunny Day 3

As Tessa and Jenna noted, we made it through a challenging time with flying colours. Yes, there were some bumps, but we made it through to enjoy a sunny and beautiful Day 3.

The sun came out and it was almost like the skies were saying: “Way to go, Dhanani-Saju family! You made it!  Now go enjoy some fishing and the beach!”

Thank you, Learn to Camp.  You are now a part of our family history and our future.