This seasonal recap is brought to you by our amazing team of Learn to Camp leaders!
As Learn to Camp leaders, we introduce thousands of Ontarians to camping every year.
We may be slightly biased, but we’re pretty sure this is one of the best jobs at Ontario Parks!
We share our love and passion for the outdoors. We pass on the tricks of the camping trade, like how to create the perfect s’more (pro tip: double chocolate is the answer to all things in life).
We’ve come to know our Learn to Camp participants as caring individuals with warm hearts, amazing recipes, hilarious jokes, and as much to share with us as we have to share with them.
We asked leaders from across our eight Learn to Camp parks to share their favourite moments from the season.
Here’s what they had to say:
Leaders: Colton, Will, Nick, Mack
Our favourite part of the season at Six Mile Lake is not just one moment, but rather a collection of moments from our programs.
Every Sunday morning, we run a session called “planning your next trip,” where we talk about some of our favorite parks, as well as camping tips we have picked up along the way.
This always seems to be the most engaging session for all campers, kids included. We get questions about specific gear, wildlife, must-see sights, and even meal-planning tips for the next time they go camping.
We run this session less formally than the others. We sit around the fire and have morning coffee with the campers. Because of this laid-back atmosphere, campers always seem to be quite excited about it, and we feel this is the most rewarding part of the weekend.
If campers are excited about planning their next trip and getting back out camping again, then we know the program has been successful. This means we have taught them not to fear nature, but to embrace it and enjoy it!
Leaders: Sarah, James, Grace
Funniest moment: As it was pouring rain I said, “I don’t think it’s physically possible for it to rain any harder than this,” and guess what? It rained harder.
Warm fuzzy moment: One weekend, a family invited me to join their site for breakfast. This wasn’t the only time this happened, and it was so nice to sit and chat informally with campers and get to know them better.
Funniest moment: Every week I dress up and act like a black bear for our bear talk! The campers love it and it gets the message across. It’s a lot of fun and it makes us all laugh every week.
Warm fuzzy moment: We take our LTC participants on a guided hike on Saturday. We only do half the trail with them, and then they come back with us or can finish the trail on their own.
Typically, and understandably, most new campers don’t want to hike without us as guides. However one week, all the groups finished the trail on their own!
It was such a proud moment for us. It takes a lot of courage for new campers to hike without a guide in bear country.
Leaders: Sarah, Mary, Brittany
One of the most satisfying components of the Learn to Camp program is seeing families fall in love with camping.
Early in the season a family of four came to the program and absolutely loved the experience – their young son never left Mary’s side! They spent many hours on basecamp playing games and learning extra camping tips and tricks.
To our surprise and delight, they returned two weeks later as graduates! It was so rewarding to see the family confidently setting up their campsite and enjoying their time together in the outdoors.
We hope to see them next year using the skills they learned this summer to continue the tradition and try camping on their own!
Leaders: Emily, Alex, Riana
During one of my rounds, a group of campers offered me a cup of tea. I then learned from them how it is Hindu tradition to give the person who teaches you a cup of tea.
We were packing up tents that had been left up by other campers due to rain, and there were still two campsites remaining. A mom from one of the sites came over to chat with us. She told us about how much she enjoyed the program and appreciated us being there.
The team bond we created was amazing!
Having the strong relationship between staff really ensured that campers had an unforgettable experience. It was clear we all enjoyed coming to work, we communicated well, and spirits were always high, even on those rainy days!
Leaders: Rachael, Tori, Shawna
We loved having the campfire every week with our campers! It was a fun time to play games, and enjoy treats around the fire. It is so rewarding seeing the families’ confidence grow over the span of a weekend!
At the campfire, we have a lot of fun doing a “Moose Call.”
To start, we instruct the campers to cup their hands and fold their fingers into a bowl shape. Just as they are about to blow into their hands like a whistle, we quickly place our hands beside our ears like we are giving a high five and yell out “MOOSSEEEEEEE MOOSEEEEEEEE MOOOSEEEEEEEE!” It gets them every time!
Darlington holds a special place in my heart, as I began camping here when I was young. Now I can share that with other new campers! It is so great seeing them gain experience, and become more confident with their camping skills over the course of only one weekend.
Leaders: Taylor, Claire, Rachel, Katrina, Errigal
As Learn to Camp staff, we have the privilege of teaching over 200 groups of first-time campers.
One of these rewarding experiences was with a family of three who joined us at Bronte Creek. The parent of two was very hesitant to go camping on their own. They had grown up camping, but were no longer confident setting up an entire site or using a camp stove on their own.
Learn to Camp provided the guidance and confidence needed to see that not only could the children help set up camp, but the stove is not as frightening as they’d originally thought.
It was great to have this family in the program, and they made memories that will last them a lifetime. Stories like these are the reason we come to work each day with a smile on our faces.
Thank you to all of our Learn to Camp leaders and participants for a great season. See you next year!