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Parks Canada Makes Camping Fun and Easy for Everyone

With the Learn to Camp program, connecting with nature has never been so simple

Two kids and two adults lying on their stomachs looking at a map in a tent facing the opening

Whether you’re new to camping, your outdoor skills are a bit rusty, or you want a little help teaching the kids how to “rough it”, Parks Canada’s Learn To Camp program is a good starting point.

Escaping from city life

Launched in 2011, the goal of the program is to get more Canadians to visit our national parks. Aimed at urbanites who have never camped or simply don’t have the gear, “we want them to [be able to] connect with nature,” says Julie Lefebvre, Lead Activity Analyst at Parks Canada.  

Lefebvre adds that the program provides an opportunity to learn basic outdoor skills so participants will eventually feel comfortable camping on their own.

A crash course in camping

Throughout the summer there are 30 overnight Learn to Camp events, all hosted at national parks across the country.

The weekends start on Saturday afternoons with hands-on workshops that  include: how to set up a tent, how to use a camping stove and how to cook over an open flame. Depending on the location, participants may also go on a hike, head to the beach or learn canoeing basics.

Stack of two s'mores close up on a table outside 

The day ends with a classic bonfire—complete with a singalong, s’mores and may also include stories from a local First Nations interpreter.

Sunday is reserved for outdoor activities such as yoga, hikes and packing up the site (a less interesting but important part of the process).

Planning your Learn to Camp weekend trip

Learn to Camp weekends run mid June to mid September.

Campers-to-be can register by calling Parks Canada’s national information service at 844-365-2646. The weekend costs $44 per adult and $22 per child (children under two camp for free).

No need to haul a tent, sleeping pads, camp stove or dishes: those are provided. (Parks Canada’s main national partner is MEC.) Campers are asked to bring their own sleeping bags or blankets and personal belongings including toiletries, sunscreen and bug spray.

When you register, always ask if food is included. Some weekends are catered, while others are not, says Lefebvre.

Woman sits watching a man and little girl setting up a tent 

For a sneak peek of what a Learn to Camp weekend has in store, check out these videos. Happy camping!

Inspired to get outside more this summer?

Whether you’re a birdwatcher or a beach lover, here are some gorgeous destinations available to camp. And from portable showers to super-sized tents, these gadgets are bound to make your camping experience more comfortable.

Exploring the world always feels safer knowing you’re covered—that’s why having CAA Travel Insurance is a must for your next voyage.

Image Credits: davidsteltz on Visualhunt.com/CC NY-SA, istock/fstop123 and istock/vgajic