a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jun, 2008

Best camping tips/places?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life


Any campers out there? Feel like sharing your thoughts and experiences about camping with the little kids? What do you bring, what do you leave at home, how do you survive without losing your sanity? Also, do you have any recommendations about great places to camp in the Ottawa area (okay within a couple hours drive…) ? 

If you were talking to someone who is about to set out for a camping trip, what advice would you give them? Stay at home? Bring a pillow? Bears are not a mythological creature?

I would love to hear anything you have to say on the topic. A potential article is waiting in the wings here…


15 Responses to "Best camping tips/places?"

1 | Tammy

June 19th, 2008 at 3:11 pm


Our young family lives in Ottawa and recently purchased our first tent trailer. Last weekend was our first camping trip with our boys (20 months and 4 years old). I honestly wasn’t sure how the trip would go but it turned out great. We went to Fitzroy Provincial Park, about an hour drive. The park was quite nice and had a great beach, little store (for a mid-day ice cream treat), and great trails to walk on. It was wonderful to spend time just being a family and giving our children undivided attention… without worrying about all the chores and errands we go crazy with at home. Loved it so much that we’re headed out again next week. Hoping to make lots of memories over the the years with that trailer.

2 | Gretchen

June 19th, 2008 at 5:31 pm


We camp quite a bit with our three girls, now 4, 6, and 8. We always bring a queen sized air mattress for mom and dad, a queen size mattress for the big girls and a twin for the littlest. I find that when we sleep comfy, we have a better trip altogether. We have a good sized tent that fits all the mattresses :) I also always pack 2 or three of the cheap oil-cloth tablecloths. One we duct-tape to the picnic table at the campsite. One we save for siting on and picnicking, and you never know when another will come in handy. Another thing we do is keep two large covered tubs in the garage for quickly packing for camping, one with all the cooking gear/tent mallet/lanterns/etc. The other tub has clothes specifically meant for camping because they get filthy and I don’t care, we wash them after the trip and stick them straight back into the tub. Some essentials, marshmallows chocolate and graham crackers and long metal skewers, wood from home so we don’t get gouged at the campsite, foil for all types of cooking, potatoes because we love campfire-baked potatoes, juice pouches, wet wipes, hmm . . . this year we are taking our bicycles and fishing gear. Always a couple of soccer balls and a Frisbee. Oatmeal packets!! Best breakfast while camping to warm up, and also hot cocoa. And something to heat the water in :) We used to bring all our own washable camping dishes, but I have recently switched to paper, and while probably not best for the environment, best for my sanity, and I don’t feel stuck doing dishes 4 or five times a day!

Have fun camping! It will create great memories, just be prepared for constant requests from your offspring to please go camping again this week! Mine even beg in the winter when there is snow everywhere, lol.

Oh and one last tip: if you are tent camping, practice setting up your tent in your backyard before you go. Of course, we do and then our girls “test” the tent for a night in the backyard, nearly as fun as actual camping! And to keep ground moisture out of the tent, we always set up ours on an extra tarp.

3 | Jon

June 19th, 2008 at 9:13 pm


I’ve never camped before, but I’ve always thought that Jones Falls would be a great place to camp.

It’s located just off Hwy #15, north of Kingston. There’s the Kenney Hotel and a small general store with an atmosphere from the bygone era. Yes, you can get ice cream there. There are trails, two or three lift locks, a blacksmith, and a blockhouse.

And, there’s also the Thousands Islands. There got to be some camping sites along the Thousands Island Parkway. There is a trail that parallels to the parkway for people to walk, run, and bike. In Brockville, there’s a really good fish n chips across from the beer store. I think it’s called “Don’s Fish and Chips”.

4 | Tales of life with a girl on the go » Blog Archive » Things to pack for fun while camping - Thursday Thirteen

June 19th, 2008 at 9:56 pm


[…] camping with the club, with friends and on our own. Andrea at a peek inside the fishbowl asked for ideas for what to pack when going camping and as my comment grew longer and longer, I decided I had a Thursday Thirteen in the making. Here […]

5 | MomOnTheGo

June 19th, 2008 at 10:07 pm


I wrote a Thursday Thirteen post in response to this post listing 13 things to pack. I would recommend the KOA campground in Cardinal. It is just about an hour from Ottawa, has lots of shade, a pool, giant chess set, good playground, a wagon ride at night and cows in the field on the one side of the campground. We stayed in a cabin last year and had a great time.

6 | smothermother

June 20th, 2008 at 7:56 am


I camped all my childhood and loved it. Now as an adult I need to gear up again so that my husband and I can share some of that love for the outdoors with our little guy. So can’t help yet with tips for camping with kids. One good general tip: an empty toilet paper roll packed with drier flint makes a great fire starter.
The misquito repellent that comes in wipes is great. Pack lots of that and afterbite for the spots that you miss.

7 | andrea

June 20th, 2008 at 8:08 am


Good tips! Keep ’em coming! I am especially keen to hear about the best camping sites in and around Ottawa.

I should point out that we are a big camping family. I have a slew of my own tips and tricks, but wanted to hear what you had to say too!

This morning I’ve reread some of my past camping posts. I am enjoying looking at them, and remembering what camping has been like these last few years:


8 | Julie

June 20th, 2008 at 1:49 pm


My husband and I have averaged 3-5 camping trips a year since we’ve been married. We never took a year off, mostly because we figured if we stopped we might never start again. Some of the things I’ve learned: bring rain suits for everyone, bring a potty even if your kids are bigger (walking half a block in the pitch black might be too much for your four year old), if you have a child that crawls but doesn’t walk, those fit together rubber mats are great to provide a soft area for crawling (this is the hardest time for camping I think). Bring lots of books for early morning with the kids and don’t ever once think you’re going to get any rest while your there.

We have camped at all nearby provincial parks (Silver Lake, Charlston Lake, Bonnechere and Voyageur). We’ve also tried some private sites, which we liked a little less. Our favorite has been Bonnechere, and we go back every year to our favorite site. The kids know their way around now, so that makes it more fun for everyone. Silver lake is nice too, and much smaller for a family just starting out.

I would encourage everyone to give it a try. Those are the memories kids fondly think of when they are older. It’s worth all the hard work in my opinion.

9 | Cath

June 21st, 2008 at 12:27 pm


I really love Frontenac Park – pretty easy to get to from Ottawa, and a number of sites that are easy access. We didn’t get there last year with a 9 month old, and now we’re expecting number 2, so I’m not completely sure when we’ll get back, but it’s still one of my favourite places in Ontario.

10 | mrsgryphon

July 7th, 2008 at 10:36 pm


We love camping with our daughter (we’ve gone each summer – she was 6 months the first time, so 18 mths last year and 1.5 this year) and she has turned out to be a fantastic little camper. Surprisingly, she sleeps really really well while camping, so we actually get to sleep in later than we do at home, which is a nice bonus!

Is Presqu’Ile Provincial Park close enough to be considered “Ottawa Area”?! We loved that park when we lived in Ontario.

Oh, and as with a commenter above – the best tip is to have everything “pre-packed”. We have a “supplies” bin and a “kitchen” bin that are left packed all year-round, and all the camping stuff is stored together in one place so that we know we take everything off those 2 shelves in the storage room. Throw in the bikes, clothes, a cooler and we’re ready to go!

11 | MOM of two under 2

July 4th, 2009 at 8:49 am


OK, First of all a little about my husband and I…we are both outdoorsy and have camped at provincial and national parks accross canada, both on the interior and car camping. We are both tenured campers. We decided to retire from tent camping atl east until our children are 5 or so. So we purchased a tent trailer from RV canada. We took it out for the first time this week to Algonquin Provincial park ( Achray campground) We had reserved a waterfront site 6 months ago at this remote car camping location. From the moment we left until the moment we returned it rained! Like many folks with babies and toddlers we were worried about our sanity as well. At home, we have the babies on a great little schedule…they nap very well and go to bed at 7 very well without problems. It was a complete nightmare camping with a 9 month old and a 23 month old. Our little baby fell asleep after being rocked and put in the playpen, but our SPIRITED toddler cried and cried and kept getting up and down and up and down and I am sure she kept the entire campground up until about 11 pm. She did not do well in the new environment. Not to mention, Both children woke up three times each in the night screaming and we got absolutely no sleep. It was brutal. We only stayed two nights and called it quits!!

We are not sure what to do now or whether we will be able to do what we love again, until the children are older….My advice would be…do not go camping if you have a spirited toddler who is prone to meltdowns and who thrives on familiarity and routine..it is not worth the insanity…

seriously, i feel lucky that my husband and I didn’t break up over that stressful trip!!

12 | andrea

July 4th, 2009 at 9:32 am


Wow. That does sound brutal.

We’ve never camped with babies. I’d be too chicken, although I know other people do it and manage to survive.

My only advice is to tire the kids out as much as you can during the day and bring something from home with them for nighttime: pillows, blankets, sleep toys etc.

Sarah was about two and a half when we first started camping. I bought glow sticks for the girls to play with in the tent at bedtime (I still do) to give them something fun to focus on while their eyes got droopy. :)

FYI – I have written a post with some detailed information about what you need to bring camping with you over here.

13 | Amy

July 21st, 2009 at 11:45 pm


We camp 2 to 3 times a year, all seasons. Best food tip is make freeze any meat you are taking. If you’re worried about hamburgers, just make them in advance and freeze them individually on a cookie sheet when frozen transfer to ziploc or plastic container or both (my choice). Also, pack a cheap pair of flip flips for showers, you don’t want to be barefoot..EVER! I also pack Clorox wipes for toilet seats. If you’re sqeamish you might want rubber gloves to wipe the seat if necessary because it can be as ugly as it sounds. We have found bicycles at campsites to be the best time consuming, boredom killing, whining stopper around. Plus you get to have time with your kid(s) and exercise. Last is enjoy, don’t let anything phase you, camping is about letting the outside world and worries go!

14 | andrea

July 22nd, 2009 at 6:28 am


Great tips!

We freeze all of our meat too, except for the stuff we’re eating the first night. My worry is always defrosting it, but so far so good. :)

15 | Maurice

June 28th, 2016 at 7:20 pm


Hey, i camped a whole lot as a single dad with custody of his only child (son) of 4 yo. Yet i do not remember a day he did not like it. Today 25 yo he dreads to hit the w-e to go out in the wild. He is a Chef now 25 yo. Never never had a hard time with him :)
Today re-married 8 years ago and have a 4 and 5 year old and we just have a awesome time camping. My wife and i share all our time with them when we are camping and the shared time with them sure comes back to us 100%.
I love camping alone with my wife and with our children, and my mother inlaw lives all the time with us and comes along and she also loves it.
I choose my spots, i read all of you and others and learn from the best, you guys… thanks. Maurice, Jes and family

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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