Do you remember the first camping experience you ever had? The excitement and nervousness you felt falling asleep in a tent, wrapped up warm in your sleeping bag, with light from your lantern flickering off the tent walls? What about gathering around your first crackling campfire, only to gaze up to the night sky to see the stars brighter than you’d ever seen them before?
BC Parks strives to ensure there are opportunities and experiences available to everyone in our provincial parks. We recognize that barriers exist to getting outside and camping in our provincial parks and we are committed to breaking down as many of these barriers as we can.
As part of these efforts, during the summer months BC Parks hosts Parks Canada’s Learn to Camp Program for families from the Canucks Autism Network and Power to Be. On August 24-25, kids and their families of all abilities were able to enjoy their first camping experience at Cypress Provincial Park.
Over the course of the weekend, participants were able to learn the necessary hands-on skills for a successful camping trip. Sessions focused on: how to set up a tent, how to cook on a camp stove, how to keep a clean campsite and of course, the most important skill of all: how to make a delicious s’more.
While any camping trip includes much more than practical campsite skills, participants were able to learn from staff about how to respect wildlife by keeping snacks to yourself and giving wildlife plenty of space (it’s their home after all). Others offered guidance on the essential gear for a safe and enjoyable hiking or camping trip, while offering advice on what can be left behind (I’m looking at you, giant suitcase).
Like any camping experience, wildlife tends to steal the show. The evening was topped off by a visit from BC Parks’ Jerry the Moose and Parks Canada’s Parka the Beaver who made a surprise appearance and even helped lead some campfire songs together.
During the wrap up on Sunday morning, participants were asked about their most memorable moments from the weekend. Some couldn’t get enough of the nature walk, many loved the campfire, and others recounted the ooey gooey s’mores. One child recounted how he and his dad woke up in the middle of the night to gaze at the most star-filled sky they had ever seen.
It is important that everyone can experience what B.C.’s parks have to offer. There were some wonderful memories made at the Learn to Camp weekend, and more memories will be created next summer.
For more information on the Parks Canada Learn to Camp workshops: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/serapprocher-connect/ltc-dlc