collage of camping images at Emily provincial park

The Sharma family learns to camp

In today’s post, Ankita Sharma shares her family’s camping experience with the Learn to Camp program.

Last summer, I convinced my Indian family of five to go camping at Emily Provincial Park.

The Sharmas have never been camping before, but suddenly here we are, standing at our campsite.

My father looks at me and asks, “Where have you brought us?”

Our campsite, surrounded by trees, is new territory for my mother. She quickly gets busy organizing our stuff. When the thought of sleeping outdoors crosses her mind, she jokes, “I’ll never be able to sleep in a tent tonight!” Yet she is the one who was part of camp scout girl’s team back when she lived in India.

man and woman standing between trees

My older sister is the personification of camping, completely relaxed and here for the full experience of outdoors. At home, she is the one who installs our Ikea furniture. Here, she will be setting up our Learn to Camp equipment.

Staying close to my sister or my mother, my younger brother is here for food, water, and the campfire. He is the our very own Joey from the TV show Friends.

brother and sister standing in lake together

I am the reason these five are here, and I will be word and camera of “When Sharma’s Went Camping!”

We are the perfect participants for Learn to Camp because the Sharmas know nothing about camping.

Learn to Camp leaders teaching a camping session

As we walk up to the Learn to Camp basecamp, the session is on with leaders Mary and Sarah. We are taught to set up tents and blow up air mattress.

About safe kitchen set-up and clean up, and the correct way of using propane gas tank. The upbeat tutorials are satisfying and my parents appreciate knowing how to have the bed ready for an afternoon nap.

family setting up tent

While they doze, we spend the time before campfire exploring Emily Provincial Park’s beach, trails, and Natural Heritage Education programs. We meet Emily’s superstar Snapping Turtle Spike and learn about the Turtle Box Conservation Project, which has been protecting turtle nests for years.

In all the fun, it is hard to keep track of the time, but the last session for the day cannot be missed, as they are filled with melting chocolate laughter.

In the dusk hour, the Learn to Camp leaders teach us two ways of setting up our fire: tipi and log cabin.

sunset over trees

While the marshmallows toast on the fire and the sun is peeking through for one last shine, the leaders share their experiences and tips. about the wildlife around us, and safe practices for our time in the nature while exploring and sleeping. Both the leaders talk about their first night in the woods and some tips to keep raccoons away from our campsite.

We sleep so close to each other on our first camp night. The cold night is quite an experience and it comes to an end with the sunshine. We wake with collective thought of how our senses are heightened in darkness and in the woods. Little noises feel a lot more closer then they are.

With repeated thoughts, we prepared to leave our very first campsite.

Goodbye, Emily.

The time in nature inspired Ankita to write this poem, which she’s set to a video of her family’s Learn to Camp experience:

Force myself to sell out

To the idea of night in the woods

The other way is foggy

Audio proportions were tricky

In sync with nature’s playlist

Far seemed closer

Starry sky seemed closer

Constant switch of senses

Wet on water

Ground on water

Existing together

Around darkness

Underneath the sky

With the movement of waves

Between my sleepy body and land

With rising smell of burning wood from body hair

When the cold was taking over summer night

I found


I have recently found my feet

I have recently spoken to my thoughts

I have recently found wood

I have recently played with my senses

I have just started to exist

Lost hours

Minutes to make up

The sun is on time

My words leave me

With steam of breath

Silenced farewell

Flying harmony of existence

Viewing of beginning

Slept through the ending darkness

I survived

Reaching sunrays


Shivering bones from last night

Damp acceptance

Naked self-reflection

Cold lingering thoughts.