For the Love of Camping, Part Two — A Man and the Mountain that CHANGED Him.

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.

For the Love of Camping, Part One — An Intergenerational Tale of Transformation

You only need to travel a few hours outside of the city to remember that very little of Canada is like Toronto.

For last summer’s annual #PalmersGoWild camping trip, we hit up Port Burwell, Ontario, a small community of just over a thousand people and home to a lighthouse; the Simply Scoops ice cream parlour, and Port Burwell Provincial Park—the place we’d call home for a week in late August. Found just under three hours west of Toronto on the north shores of Lake Erie, it’s the perfect place to go if you want to slow things down a little—the kind of place you can let your kids roam free sans worry.

But I’m starting to understand that it’s not for everyone.

Whenever anyone hears we’re going camping, we generally get one of two responses—nostalgic memories from the people who’ve done it, or good luck wishes from the ones who haven’t. And others fall somewhere in the middle, whether scarred from a bad experience or had a nice time, but too intimidated to go out and try it again on their own.

But let me tell you this as someone who didn’t take a shining to camping at first—if you’re unwilling to get out of your comfort zone and take the world as it comes, you’re missing out on so much of what it has to offer.

Casey Palmer x Quaker Canada Present — “Goodness Starts Today” Part Two: So Long, and Thanks for the Sandbanks

Growing up, the most my family dealt with the outdoors was around our Mississauga neighbourhood with bike rides by the Credit River, or horsing around with our friends at the nearby park when we weren’t too busy with cartoons or video games. Some reasons for this were obvious — even as a Black family without a huge Black community surrounding us, it still wasn’t “something we did”, spending what vacation time my parents could cobble together on other local attractions, like Niagara Falls’ Marineland or Vaughan’s Canada’s Wonderland.

I mean, sure we changed it up sometimes — we spent time at Myrtle Beach with our aunt and took a family trek down to Jamaica to appreciate better where our parents came from, but we were city kids. We knew bus stops and suburb blocks, shopping malls and streetcars… we grew up with the frenetic pace of The Big Smoke, thinking that’s just how life was.

Sarah, however, sees different.

Camping | Earl Rowe Provincial Park | This Ain’t MY Neck of the Woods!

Our Coleman Phoenix tent set up in Earl Rowe Provincial Park for a few days with Sarah’s family.

It’s questionable as to whether reconnecting with nature is actually good for us. There are some things that I know to be true about nature without question:

1 – Nature can kick your ass without hesitation