I went to summer camp every year as a child but we never camped as a family because my mother, not much of an “outdoor woman”, found the idea daunting. My dad borrowed a friend’s trailer and took us out once but that was the extent of my camping experience growing up. Fast forward to today, and my son goes camping at least a couple of times a month. We have a fancy new trailer and we’re committed to at least 40 nights camping this summer.
My personal story aside, where do you start when you want to “get into” camping? I honestly can’t recommend buying a tent, sleeping bags, and all of the necessary equipment without trying it once or twice to see if you even enjoy camping. Maybe you’ll love it, but you may discover you prefer cabins, resorts, or even comfort camping options a whole lot more!
You won’t know if camping is for you and your family until you try it. And thanks to Saskatchewan Parks, you can try camping this summer with no real commitment, no gear purchases, and no knowledge required. Just show up and give it a whirl!
The Learn to Camp Experience
You can choose your two-day overnight experience at one of three participating parks. Saskatchewan Parks supplies all of the camping equipment you will need (for a maximum of five participants including children) while you just supply your own food, bedding, and personal items. And for a first time out, most of us know somebody we can borrow sleeping bags from. Alternately, pop on down to a department store and invest in some affordable bags that will always come in useful, even for sleepovers or school overnight trips.
And note, this is not equipped camping as offered byParks Canada where you show up to find your site assembled for you. You will be “learning to camp” with the Saskatchewan Parks program. You’ll come away from the experience ready to head out on your own next time with perhaps a rented tent and stove for a weekend.
Before your trip, you’ll receive “a detailed information package including a schedule for your overnight program, list of supplies for you to bring, list of supplies that we provide and information on planning meals” (Saskatchewan Parks)
Experiences you will learn while camping:
- Learn to set up your campsite (including putting up your own tent)
- Learn to prepare meals on a camping cook stove
- Learn how to start a campfire
- Enjoy spending a night in a tent
- Enjoy some of the programs that Saskatchewan parks offers including interpretive activities in your campground
- Participate in applied learning sessions and family-friendly activities led by camp leaders. Scheduled activities will include a guided tour of your campground, sessions on how to set up a camp kitchen and campsite (including a tent and screen shelter,) a guided nature hike, a lesson on building a campfire, and tips for what to expect your first night.
During your trip you will have access to flush toilets (yes, breathe a sigh of relief here) hot showers, and clean drinking water. You’ll be provided you with one bag of ice to get you started (you can buy more while you’re at camp to fill your cooler,) firewood, and a parking permit for one vehicle. (Inquire directly with Saskatchewan Parks if you’ll need a second permit.)
You’ll also have plenty of recreation time to enjoy your chosen park’s facilities and activities which could include fishing, swimming, hiking, boating or paddling, and cycling.
Participating Saskatchewan Parks
Pike Lake Provincial Park – 29 km southwest from Saskatoon. Here you’ll find desert like sand dunes, a beach, nature trails, and opportunities for water sports.
Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park – 55 km northwest from Yorkton and 32 km southwest from Canora. Here you’ll find a beach, mini golf, tennis and beach volleyball courts, a nearby golf course, and hiking opportunities on the Trans Canada Trail.
Echo Valley Provincial Park – 70 km northeast from Regina. Here you’ll find beaches, lakes, and rolling hills that will make you feel as if you’re another world away from the city of Regina. Recreation opportunities are plentiful including mini golf, volleyball, and water sports.
Want to Participate?
“The Learn to Camp programs are open to families how have never camped before or want to start tent camping. The program can accommodate up to five people per site, with a maximum of three adults per site.” (Saskatchewan Parks)
Note that pets are not permitted in the program and that consumption of alcohol is also not permitted. All programs are offered in English.
The Learn to Camp program costs $30 per group. Payment is due upon arrival at the park on the day of your registered program. Payment can be made by cash, debit, credit card, or cheque.