Ontario Parks Learn to Camp Program
Learn to Camp
.-GB Learn to Camp is a program that Ontario Parks started in an effort to increase the number of people that go camping. A statistic came out that said one-quarter of all Canadians had never been camping before. And so, Ontario Parks wanted to change that. We have a beautiful natural landscape here and we wanted to encourage as many people as possible to come camping.
Here Are A few Comments
We were interested in doing camping, we hadn’t done it before here in Canada. We’ve never camped before, I just have childhood memories of growing up in India. So, wanted to connect but didn’t know how to do it here. A lot of people are a little nervous about buying equipment, they’re not really sure what to bring, what’s already here. We always wanted to camp, but the very thought of buying a tent and everything was an overwhelming experience.
One Couple Said
We never camped before, so this is a great opportunity because these guys do an amazing job. The way it works here at Six Mile is that we have eight different campsites that we rent out to people. The only things they have to bring is sleeping equipment and food.
Another One Said
I camped before, but coming here and having the car, the tent, everything explained in a very detailed way I think was a great thing. It was really nice to have someone walk us through it and see it.
We do demonstrations and then send them back to their own campsites. Because of our sponsors, all the camping supplies that they could ever need are supplied. We give out the tents, the dining shelters, they get a kitchen bin which includes everything you could possibly need to eat with.
They also get a Coleman stove, as well as the propane tanks to work with. In the evening Ontario Parks has given them a bag of firewood and a smores kit that they get started with. And so that kind of introduces them to campfires and stuff.
They are great, I mean always smiling, always ready, always helpful. You feel like if there is any problem you can count on somebody to help. There’s a portion of the Learn to Camp program where they come down, introduce themselves to the guests and introduce what they do in Ontario Parks. One guy said I’m a park warden, and my role in the park is two-fold actually. I`m here to protect the people and also make sure they have a safe and enjoyable time.
The second part of what I do is to protect what is around us here, the trees, the natural resources. They do a speech about the enforcement program and some rules that apply to camp in all Ontario Parks. It’s something I look forward to every Saturday. they’re so enthusiastic about being in parks and being outside and camping in general.
The great thing about the Learn to Camp program is it gives a little taste of all that Ontario Parks has to offer. We loved the hike, we`re going to do some canoeing today, and fishing, and swimming, and we`ve been using our bike all around the camp area which has been great, so we`ve been having a ball.
Here at Six Mile in Ontario Parks, we have a PFD loaner program for personal floatation devices so like life jackets ranging from babies who are 3 months old all the way to full grown adults. and you can use it for swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, whatever you want to use it for. We have a fishing loaner program, it`s called TackleShare. So at the park store, we rent out fishing rods and tackle. They can have that gear for as long as they want so they can go out and try fishing off the dock.
NHE is Natural Heritage Education, what we do is basically put on informative programs about the park`s features I will drop by occasionally with usually some sort of artifacts like a moose jaw or an animal skin of some sort. It gives them something to interact with, something to touch and feel, And basically try to give the camper a unique experience here at the park. This is an integral part of being Canadian, and enjoying the outdoors, we have so much of it. I think that it is really, really a phenomenal experience to get out here and try it.
A lot of people are coming from Toronto and other cities and have never spent a night under the stars. Oh yeah, it’s totally different, we are out in the open outdoors, enjoying nature. Yeah, and looking at the stars at night is really amazing. Going to the lake and seeing the skies with more stars than you ever thought were there, that was wonderful.
Looking at my daughter’s eyes when going through the lake and saying, “woahhhhh”. It’s awesome because they get here and they start to experience it, and then they fall in love with it. I really enjoyed the hike. We saw turtles, and frogs, just the different wildlife was sort of the best part for me. I would say everyone who has been here has told us that they were going to come back. Maybe not to Six Mile, but to a park again, and go camping. They all have loved it which has been great for us.
Yes, we will likely be campers now Of course, yes we are. We are, even for more nights Of course! Yes, yes, Yes, we are! Oh of course! Yes definitely! This guy will come back like once every week. It was great! These guys made it so much fun! Totally one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. Seeing people who have never camped before and then coming out and camping for the first time, and they love it. It’s a pretty cool opportunity to teach people a life skill they can have the rest of their life. They come with a great attitude. It’s fantastic helping people set up the equipment and going from the basics of learning to, to camping basically. This is actually my fifth year at the park, but my first with Learn to Camp.
It’s really cool to see people come in who know basically nothing about camping, and leave prepared to go camping on their own. That’s kind of the job satisfaction for me. I get to see people who have never done it before become experts and are ready to go afterwards.