It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to another beautiful Canadian winter and greet the oncoming summer! For both backcountry campers and those considering their first camping experience, this means it’s time to start planning and organizing equipment for the trip.
David Bree (Senior Natural Heritage Leader, Presqu’ile Provincial Park)
Why do Parks Matter? Unfortunately that is becoming an increasingly pertinent question in an age where screen time outweighs nature time on a regular basis.
Working in a park, I can answer that question in a number of ways. The most obvious perhaps is that parks provide protection for a great many habitats, which in turn provide space and resources for the animals and plants of the province to function in a normal fashion. This is in essence the definition of biodiversity, a whole bunch of things living and interconnecting in a complex web. This is a bit of a catch word these days, but maintaining a high biodiversity in our world has been shown to make for a more robust and healthy environment. And a healthy environment is integral to our survival – it supplies our air, our water and our food, just to name the most obvious and crucial elements of life. While to me this is a compelling and obvious argument, it has become sterile to many ears that have been bombarded by warnings of environmental doom and gloom all their lives. After a while people just don’t hear.
As people around the world prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, Ontarians have everything they need right in their own backyard. With more than 330 provincial parks covering 8.2 million hectares of parkland, Ontario is a veritable playground for all things fun and environmental.
Here are five ways you can enjoy the spirit of Earth Day in April and throughout the year:
Learn to camp
Did you know Ontario Parks is now taking campsite reservations for summer 2015? The provincial park agency has a 5 month advance booking window. This means that anyone planning to camp in late June, for example, can book their campsite now.
During the busy five month advance reservation period, Ontario Parks processes about 102,000 reservations (3o% of its total reservations for the year). The peak weeks for booking five months in advance are mid-January to March 31. Pinery, Algonquin, Sandbanks, Killbear and Bon Echo Provincial Parks are the busiest. Ontario Parks suggests trying a new park in 2015 and offers some excellent alternatives to its busiest five. Check this Ontario Parks blog for new parks to try, online tools to help you choose a park and much more.
Ontario Parks has been honoured with a Marketing Award of Excellence from the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation. Ontario Parks Learn to Camp program won ”best tourism marketing partnership”, which recognizes the achievements of tourism stakeholders that develop a successful partnership with a non-traditional retailer, packaged good company or service provider. In this case, Learn to Camp has several partnerships, which have been instrumental in the success of the Learn to Camp program.
Maybe it’s the additional oxygen you get when you’re outdoors, or all that exercise that makes you hungry. Whatever the reason, food always tastes better when you’re camping. Here are five favourite campsite recipes to try on your next camping trip to Ontario Parks. Three are classics and two come from new campers. They participated in our Learn to Camp program which challenges new campers to cook on a camp stove. We’ve also added a link to a post from a Bon Echo Provincial Park camper on how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey outdoors BBQ turkey for Thanksgiving? Why not?. You’ll find more campsite recipes plus meal planning tips on our Learn to Camp site .
Learn to Camp was recently honoured with the “Innovator of the Year” award by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. The market response to the program has impressed and inspired even the staff at Ontario Parks! Jeff Brown, Learn to Camp Coordinator says,
“The popularity of this program has really blown us away. Year over year, we have added capacity to the program and every year we have ended the season with a long waiting list of eager new campers. The hands-on experiential training is exactly what new campers are looking for in their first camping experience.”
Ontario Parks is an organization that epitomizes teamwork. This program has worked because staff at all levels of the organization, have worked so well together to make the Learn to Camp program a reality.
“We reached out to people who wanted to try camping but didn’t know where to start and gave them the opportunity to enjoy one of Ontario’s favourite activities. The smiles on the faces of participants as they enjoy their first campfire make this initiative so worthwhile”, says Charlene Coulter, Superintendent of Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Continue reading The Award-winning Learn to Camp program at Ontario Parks
Ontario Parks received almost ten million visits last year – an increase of 50,000 visits over 2010. If you plan to visit Ontario Parks this summer, did you know that you can reserve your campsite or roofed accommodation five months in advance of your arrival dates? Continue reading 6 tips for booking at Ontario Parks
Parents interested in the outdoors and family camping have a short window of time before kids’ seasonal jobs and other interests can change family holiday time. Since this is a season of resolutions and the beginning of 2012 vacation planning, here’s a suggested list of 15 things to do with your kids before they turn 15! Continue reading 15 things to do with your kids before they’re 15
Ontario Parks is offering a new program aimed at new Canadians and others who have never camped before.
About 25 per cent of all Ontarians have never gone on an overnight camping trip; new Canadians are even less likely to have tried camping. About 74 per cent of new Canadians surveyed said that a hands-on course about camping would be helpful. Continue reading Ontario Parks Launches New Learn to Camp Program