My four year old stands on the sturdy Muskoka chairs ringing the (unlit!) campfire and shouts “I love you nature!” Not to be out done, the seven year old performs a jumping high kick and channels his inner rock god with a screechy “Thank you ELK ISLAND!”
Thankfully there are lots of other kids around, so their noise blends in with the happy afternoon buzz of the Astotin campground in Elk Island National Park. It’s hard not to be exuberant on a crisp, sunny autumn day. You have to keep moving to stay warm, but there’s a lot to do, so it isn’t hard.
By the end of September, for all but the most hard core campers (which I do not count myself among) camping—certainly tenting—season is winding down. That means time to start thinking about next year! And if you were me, you would be thinking about the neat oTENTiks at Elk Island National Park.
Opened to the public in July of this year, the 5 structures dotted throughout the Astotin campground are a cross between a tent and a cabin. There is a wooden floor, table and chairs, a real bed, and very importantly to a wuss like me, a heater. This is comfort camping at its best!
To be honest, I am a somewhat reluctant camper. I really like getting out in nature, and the wholesome ideal of my kids running around in the clean air making memories and getting dirty strikes me as exceedingly healthy (bar the constant diet of hot dogs and s’mores.) But like most of my brilliant ideas, the realities are never quite what I pictured. The tent set up inevitably causes a fight, someone gets hurt, we forget to pack some integral piece of equipment, the weather is awful.
This trip wasn’t too bad, all things considered. The traditional “Whose stupid idea was this tent anyway?” fight was avoided, the worst injury was a bloodless head-on collision with a table, all we forgot was ketchup (more devastating to some than to others) and although the rain was prodigious, we were cozy and warm inside the bone-dry oTENTik. Best part? We didn’t have to dry the tent when we got home!
For the 2018 season, reservations will be opened for the oTENTiks at Elk Island National Park on the online Parks Canada booking engine in January.
Thanks very much to Parks Canada for hosting our stay in the oTENTik. As always, the opinions are my own. JM