When we create something new, unknown and challenging, there is always an element of apprehension, fear, and feeling of uncertainty. It was the feeling we had when we started our project two years ago: Camping Event for Newcomers. We wanted to introduce an idea of camping to people who have never experienced this type of activity or they did but never in Canada. And we did it!
Last year, over 35 people had a chance to experience camping in Albion Hills Provincial Park. The project was quite successful, thus we decided to continue this program in 2019 for the second time.
After a few sessions of preparation where our clients worked with mentors and staff members, on Friday, August 26, a group of 35 people started their camping journey to Bronte Creek Provincial Park. For the second year in a row, Parkbus Canada showed their wonderful support by providing a free bus to transport us there and back. When we arrived at the site, we started setting up the tents provided by Parks Canada. They lent us 20 tents and 20 mattresses. They also conducted an outdoor orientation (Learn to Camp) prior to our camping event. They taught our group how to set up a tent and gave us many tips on cooking, camping gear, clothing and also health and safety in the woods. As we were being prepared by Parks Canada we almost passed the test on setting up the tents. Yes, we had some flaws in our attempts but with team effort, we made it!
When our tents were standing in perfect desire, we were eager and also a little worried about preparing dinner for more than a handful of people. Little did we know that our concerns would quickly diminished with the active and creative engagement of some of the campers. Dinner was served with no time and it was quite exotic for many of us, delicious even!
Thanks to Discount Truck we were able to transport our camping equipment and food. This has been the second year they provided us with a van free of charge.
What a comfort we had with the spacious van that fit all we needed for three days and two nights in nature. The van served many of our camping purposes: storing, refrigerating, transporting. It also became the place to create innovative ideas to answer such questions as “what’s for breakfast?”, “here is the folding chair?”. And of course, a places for collecting thoughts like “oh, it was a great camping experience!”.
And our journey continued preparing meals together, with day and night activities that were planned by two groups. Luckily, our health and safety team didn’t have much work during the camping. Nevertheless, they helped with other tasks and chores that made the event worth remembering.
We went hiking in the woods with nature guide Michael White. We went swimming in the pool. We did some singing and dancing. We had a bonfire with baked potatoes and smores. Preparing the smores was one of the most popular culinary activities. Another culinary specialty was an ethnic food we are very proud of. We made Khichuri (Hotch Potch in English), an ancient Indian comfort dish with global influence.
Here is what some of our campers had to say about the event:
“Everything was amazing!! You helped us a lot to understand what it means camping. I can say this camping was the most memorable moment in this summer. I met so many amazing people and could enjoy nature” – Fedor
“We had a wonderful time at the camp. Our kids enjoyed it immensely and had the opportunity of making a few friends as well. We met some great people and am sure will be in touch with them…We had an awesome time, sleeping in a tent for the first time, getting to know the Bronte Creek park, going out for a trek in the jungle and enjoying the river. Everything was just great and we as a family really enjoyed this first time camping and it was a very good experience for newcomers.” – Famidha
“It was an amazing experience. One of the best in life.”- Amit
Everything was fine, except for the mosquitoes there.”- Mohammad
“Thanks to you and the Culturlink to organize this wonderful event for newcomers. I had an awesome time camping. I made new friends, spend time with nature and I got to sleep in a tent for the first time! It was really fun when we went hiking in the woods; I got to learn about lots of different kinds of plants and flowers. The food there was also really yummy, especially the Smores!” – Maimuna
“It was truly a wonderful experience. It was a great camping group.”- Mitu & Suma