Welcome to For the Love of Camping, the three-part series journeying from my family’s stance against camping to my desire to get everyone camping, so they can enjoy it as much as we do.
In Part One of the series, I explained how camping didn’t fit growing up Black and suburban in the ’80s and ’90s. Even when I started dating Sarah over a decade ago, I resisted at first from both the bad experiences I had in the past and the ones that soon came. But she wasn’t quite ready to give up on me, and that brings us to the summer of 2011 with Sarah’s family at Earl Rowe Provincial Park to celebrate her parents’ 35th wedding anniversary.
For the Love of Glamping…
It was sooner than I expected, but just a year after a Turkey Point camping trip that had me miss the annual Palmer BBQ and hole up in a waterlogged tent through seventeen hours of torrential rain, we were camping again in Earl Rowe Provincial Park for my in-laws’ 35th wedding anniversary. That same year saw us engaged, married and spending some time abroad, so it wasn’t exactly like I was about to say “no”—this was the world I married into.
But I wasn’t going to make it easy for her.
Since that trip that didn’t go exactly as planned, we invested in plenty of gear to make future stays more… comfortable. A ten-person Coleman tent with three rooms and an interior lighting system. Sizable coolers to hold all the beer I’d need to survive the experience. I wasn’t getting caught with my pants down again, so I demanded some glamping, setting the tone for our trips in the foreseeable future.
And then we climbed a mountain.
If You Think Camping in ONTARIO Is Hard….
I quickly obliterated any problems I had camping in Ontario with the week we spent on Mount Kilimanjaro.
It wasn’t in the plans, but suddenly we found ourselves spending a few weeks in Tanzania, piggybacking on a six-month trip our friends were on to see the world. And we’d trained—a little—to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, thinking that a wealth of walking and a healthy investment in gear would be just what we needed to get to the top.
Maybe that’s what everyone thinks before they climb the mountain for the first time.
What it’s actually like is a little more like this—hiking uphill for 5½ days to reach the summit, some 19,300 feet above sea level, without the benefit of plumbing, devices, or many other comforts we often take for granted. And it’s not the physical challenge that gets you—it’s the things you need to overcome in your head. Like that you’ll eventually need to use an outhouse no matter how bad it smells. Or that even if soup isn’t your favourite food, you better damn well eat it—the mountain’s not exactly teeming with lunch options.
By the week’s end, you could’ve given me a sleeping mat and a rock, and I still could’ve slept just about anywhere.
Who knew it’d take over 12,000 kilometres and a whole lot of self-reflection to help me find my way?
I’d finally become a camper.
And Thus We Have the Birth of a Camper.
So there you have it—how I learned to fall in love with camping. It may have been a little extreme, but it got me where I am today!
And my kids love it! Camping’s part of their culture now, something they look forward to each summer, giving them the chance to play with their friends in ways they’d rarely be able to in the city. It’s a big world out there—I hope to show them as much of it as I can!
But that’s just my story—there’re thousands of others out there. What’s yours?
Make sure to come back and join us for the third and final chapter of For the Love of Camping, where we get you camping and overcoming whatever worries are rattling around in your head!
Happy trails, and until the next, I remain,