a peek inside the fishbowl

22 Aug, 2010

Camping 2010

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|travel talk

“Mum, you are so pretty.”
“Thank you honey…”
“You’re even pretty with your bushy hair. You look like Nature Woman!”

I think I might get the words “Nature Woman” printed on a t-shirt. Also, this little exchange should give you a good indication why I do not appear in a single one of the photos I’m posting online for you to view. :)

This year we opted to return to Charleston Lake. I think this was our fourth time on this site. This place is ideal for young families, so if you’re thinking of trying out car camping and you live in this part of Ontario I highly recommend it. It has some pretty sites and it’s near the water for easy swimming, fishing and canoeing. As a bonus there is a great children’s program and there are some lovely little hikes, the water is potable and the facilities are clean.  

The place is manna for the eyeballs. It’s near Gananoque, and if you’re familiar with that area at all you’ll know that it’s woodsy and watery and there’s lots of sky.

In a phrase: superpretty.

We had a great time, as we always do. See?

Camping at Charleston Lake

1. first dip, 2. Sarah at the beach, 3. clay, 4. a popular pastime, 5. Sarah, 6. Emma, 7. sarah’s catch, 8. the “big” beach, 9. Huge dragonfly, 10. Banana Boats, 11. toasty feet, 12. Sparklers!, 13. Baby garter snake, 14. exploring, 15. the small beach, 16. wee frog

In our experience the campsites within the sphere of Ontario Parks can be really good or really terrible, well, let rephrase that. There are a lot of sites I’d rate as medium-good, but the ones that are bad are really bad and the ones that are great are fantastic. We have a site we return to, which, for us, is a good distance away from major roads, garbage drop-offs and outhouses, but close enough to the beach and the comfort station to make it manageable. (In fact I counted the number of steps to the comfort station a.k.a flush toilets and hot water. The magic number? 228. This meant I learned very early on to stop drinking beer at 8:30 p.m.)

It was fine place to be except for one incident we had near the end of our stay. There was something of a family reunion happening over 3 or 4 sites across the road from us. It was a big group, around 30 people, and they were fairly noisy in the late hours (but never past 11, which I could live with). On our last night we were coming back from the beach when we realized they’d set up a HUGE screen and projector and were all gathered around watching a show. This was around dinner time. The show eventually turned into a movie, the name of which we were able to determine by the distinctive music: Indiana Jones. By 10:30 we were sick and tired of the movie soundtrack drowning out the cheery crackle of our campfire and the chorus of peepers and crickets in the forest.

I acknowledge that camping means different things to different people. For some people it means a canoe, some dried food and a week in the back woods of Canada, for others it’s a fully-loaded RV with all the comforts of home. For some it’s about hot dogs and marshmallows and for others it’s about roasted peppers and artisanal cheeses, but I draw the line at pulling out the projector and subjecting half the campground with blaring entertainment.

Rant over.

ANYWAY, the weather was pretty good. We had one solid rainstorm on our first full day there, but it landed squarely in the few hours between lunch and dinner. I had a nap, everyone else read, and I was happy that we managed to get in three hot meals. Otherwise it was very pleasant for outdoor living; not too hot, not too cold.

The bugs were bad-ish, but not in the usual way. We are used to dealing with hoards of mosquitoes in July but were wholly unprepared for everything else. There actually weren’t too many mosquitoes, but the ones that were there were particularly savage. I don’t think it was my imagination. The five or six who make their living on our campsite all managed to find my ankles and gorge themselves. So. Itchy. I alternated calamine socks with something we later discovered … the astonishingly calming effects of a layer of Charleston Lake Clay. The girls coated our legs as a joke and it turned out to be a soothing remedy for our bites. That stuff should be bottled and sold! No joke.

Other bugs:

1) Wasps.
There were plenty of those. This is the time of year they are out in full force, lookin’ for sweet stuff. They sniff out food and swarm dinner plates and crash our picnics. Wasps don’t actually bother me too much. If you had to quantify “fear of stinging” on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being totally unafraid and 10 being terrified) I’d be about a 5. I did however, have my worst encounter with a wasp to date. I was enjoying a bottle of beer by the fireside, lad di dah, staring alternately into the fire and into the great outdoors when I took a big swig and suddenly felt something, er, WALKING AROUND IN MY MOUTH. I spit it out on the ground only to see a wiggling wasp. Gadzooks. I still can’t believe I didn’t get stung. 

2) Caterpillars.
They were everywhere: on our tent in the mornings (inside and out), on our beach towels, almost everywhere we looked. One day I was walking around the campsite and I felt something tickle the back of my neck (I bet you know where this story is going), and without even thinking about it, reached up to scratch and instead grabbed a furry guy that must have fallen from a tree. In one swift motion – propelled as much by disgust as it was by total revulsion –  I flung it to the ground in one big swoop. Ew.

On a more positive note, there were no horse or deer flies!

(As a sidenote: I find my lack of sympathy for the insect world interesting, if only when I weigh it against the sorry feelings I had for the worms we chopped and sacrificed for our fishing adventures.)

Anyway, click here to view my complete set of camping pics on Flickr. I am in the process of putting additional descriptions/explanations over with each photo instead of doing it here.

It is good to be home, except we haven’t really been home… just using it as a place to dump our dirty laundry and regroup. I have a crick in my neck and feel very much like a zombie this morning. Technically we’re still on holiday too. So don’t expect too much. :)

p.s. I wanted to say thank you to the guest posters who held down the fort last week. Didn’t they do a great job? In case you missed them, here’s Kaitlin’s, Dave’s, Emma’s, and Rebecca’s posts. Thanks again. You guys rock.

7 Responses to "Camping 2010"

1 | coffee with julie

August 22nd, 2010 at 11:13 am


Okay, you can skip my email asking you how your camping trip went! :)

2 | Scatteredmom

August 22nd, 2010 at 11:26 am


You are my hero. I admit, while I’m all adventure girl with everything else, camping is not my thing. I’ll happily sit by a campfire and roast marshmallows, hang out by a lake, etc, but then I want to go back to my clean motel with a shower.

I’m with you on the movie thing too-if people want to do that, they should consider the other campers. I would camp to get away from technology, not have it blaring right next to me.

And the hair? I just had this conversation w/ Hubs yesterday. We girls who ride motorcycles, scuba dive, and camp can’t worry about our hair because yes, it looks terrible (obviously you haven’t seen me w/ helmet head). If we kept it perfect we wouldn’t do any of those things, right? But then how would we have any FUN?

3 | andrea

August 23rd, 2010 at 9:32 am


Julie: to summarize, we survived. :)

Scattered Mom: I agree with you about the hair but I also think I should invest in a good hat!

4 | Carla

August 24th, 2010 at 11:23 am


I am so with you on camping being a time to chill out! We just came back from 4 days at Sandbanks and it was fun, the kids (4 and 2) even voted to stay when we were wondering whether we should leave a day early because of the rain forecasted. For us camping is about doing less and being with less. No electronics whatsoever, I love it!, some beach toys and few books. Mostly the kids played with spoons on the dirt, ran around, the 4 year old went to loo by herself at each opportunity revelling in the freedom, they did impromptu what sounded like punk music shows, looked at toads and ate, my, they were so hungry.

We also had loud neighbours which was terrible. The first night it involved two parties on opposite directions, loud (bad guitar), wolf calling and screaming (though they got evicted in the morning “how can you kick us out -said they to the warden- when we are too drunk to drive?”), day 2 was country music and day 3 was AC/DC. Hopefully, better luck next time. Hard to find the perfect campsite though because noise travels so much more in the open.

But, hooray for camping!

5 | Binki

August 24th, 2010 at 5:44 pm


Loud dysfunctional camping neighbours….it stresses me out to even hear about it. We’ve done some car camping and have had a few bad experiences. All of them involve loud partiers. Like Andrea, I understand that there are all kinds of “campers” but I just don’t want to be around the kind that go camping to be loud and craaaaazy. So for many years we avoided all that by going interior canoe camping. MUCH better. Since having kids, we have done a bit of car camping. Soon we’ll be able to go canoe camping as a family. I guess I should thank the yahoos…they pushed me into canoe tripping – one of the best things I have ever done.

Maybe there should be two separate camping areas…one for loud and one for quiet?

6 | Shannon

August 27th, 2010 at 9:24 pm


Oh my goodness I’d lose it if my camp neighbors had a projector. LOSE.IT. But then again, I can be cranky in a GET OFF MY LAWN kind of way. But I like my quiet camping. :)

7 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Camping at Charleston Lake Provincial Park, the 2020 edition - a peek inside the fishbowl

August 2nd, 2020 at 3:12 pm


[…] the record, here are the posts about our experience at Charleston Lake in 2010, in 2007 and in […]

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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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