Monday, 12 September 2016

Glamorous - The Art of Glamping/ Family Camping

I've enjoyed camping for my entire adult life.  As a camper coming from a pretty adamant "non-camping" family, most of my childhood experiences centred around weekend Scouting trips during Brownies and Girl Guides.  Over the years Chris and I have explored a lot of beautiful places around Ontario in the provincial parks we've visited.

While I've had a blast on trips with Chris that involve 20KM hikes and picturesque canoeing in Bon Echo and beyond, these aren't usually the best introductions to camping for little ones.  In the past I may have turned up my nose at the idea of glamping, or making camping too kushy and easy, cause you're supposed to be roughing it, right?

In the years since Molly and Jack were born camping itself has become a little more difficult.  There was the time that it rained so hard that Molly and I slept inside our compact car (not comfortable).  Or when we decided to take a two year pause from camping because curious toddlers and fire are terrifying.  Last summer our camping trip came to an abrupt end when we had to throw out our 10 year old tent because all of the weatherproofing spray in the world could no longer prevent it from turning into a swimming pool.

Molly helping set up our new tent "Camper Van Tent"
This year we bought a new tent, that isn't supposed to leak (so far it hasn't)...and decided to try something a little different in terms of our camping experience.  After having difficulty trying to secure a camping site at a provincial park on the long weekend (or one that would allow you to bring wine), we decided to try out a KOA camp ground in Campbellville, an American based camping/ almost, but not quite glamping facility, that makes the experience a little less rough.

Here are 10 reasons why parents may want to consider trying out a KOA site:

1. They have impeccable washrooms
There are no outhouses at KOA, only washrooms with showers and flush toilets.  This also makes life easier for people changing diapers.

2. Need a washer?  They have one!
Damp sleeping bag, or kid fell into a bog on a hike, no problem.  You can wash and dry your clothes without leaving the camp grounds.

3. They deliver your firewood, right to your door/tent
You place the order, with the delivery time, at the camp store and it arrives just in time for dinner.  Ours arrived late,and the kids and I were getting hangry, but the staff were very friendly and even gave us some additional logs at no cost for the inconvenience.

Gatherer Molly

4. It goes beyond tent camping
While we camped in our new tent, KOA facilities have little cabins or yurts and trailer parking for those who can't get comfortable sleeping on the ground.  While we love our cosy little tent, this opens up the doors for spring or fall camping, when it's colder at night but you still want to enjoy the great outdoors.  The park store has all the supplies you may have forgotten!

5. Movie nights
On weekends they have an outdoor movie on an inflatable screen to help keep kids entertained.  A week later the minions are still talking about watching Scooby Doo under the stars.

6. A real kitchen
I like cooking over a fire when I'm camping, and we still did this, and I even don't mind hiking over to a tap at a park to get water for my dishes, but when it's raining camp cooking is terrible.  At KOA there is a communal kitchen for dish washing and cooking, which is great for clean up, and even better for heating something up if it's been raining and you can't get your fire started.  They also have BBQs available for those who want to fire up the grill without using their camp fire (anyone with toddlers)

Snack time

7. It's all about the kids
There are playgrounds and kid focused activities.  These include "crafternoons", and our site had a bouncy castle, balloon animals, and face painting on Saturday.

Balloon flower

8. Bringing in some charity
On Sundays in the summer they host a pancake breakfast, with the proceeds going to helping to send kids with illness, who need extra medical attention to KOA Care Camps.  This no fuss breakfast is a great way for parents to "divide and conquer", Chris was able to take down most of our camp while the kids had breakfast and played on the playground.

9. They have a pool
There was a warm outdoor pool for us to splash around in alongside the kids.  This was a definite highlight for the minions.

10. They are close to other facilities
Provincial parks and conservation areas have great trails, KOA doesn't, but they were only a 10 minute drive away from four different, amazing hikes, also when we went hiking in Halton Hills Conservation Area we were able to still pay for our hike and support Ontario Parks, which is always a win.

While I still have a soft spot for the "roughing it" camping in provincial parks, I enjoyed our slightly pampered weekend away with the kids.  I am also looking forward to trying out some spring or fall camping with the kids in the near future.  For a softer integration into the great outdoors and camping I highly recommend testing out KOA!

Campfire moments

To read 7 tips for camping in the rain click here

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