Camping tips for beginners

A tent at a campground on a sunny day.

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Camping is a Canadian pastime

  1. Many go camping to:
    • enjoy the fresh air
    • discover the beauty of the great outdoors
    • sleep under the stars
    • see a bear or a deer
    • commune with nature
  2. Experience camping this summer.
    • Spend quality time with your family.
    • Enjoy many activities around the camp fire.
  3. In some campsites you can:
    • Watch movies or exhibits.
    • Play golf.

Types of camping:

Frontcountry camping

  1. This is “car camping”. You bring your vehicle on the site.
  2. Set up camp where you park.
  3. Campsites have:
    • showers
    • flush toilets
    • playgrounds
    • snack bars
    • theatres
    • swimming pools
  4. Kinds of frontcountry campsites:
    • Serviced campsites
      • For recreational vehicles (RVs), trailers, and tent trailers.
      • Facilities: water, sewer, or electrical hook-ups.
      • Not ideal for setting up a tent.
    • Unserviced campsites
      • They have tent pads.
      • Facilities: flush toilets, showers, and potable water.
      • Open to RVs and tent trailers that do not need service hook-ups.
    • Pull-through campsites
      • Called “drive-through” campsites
      • For vehicles towing larger trailers or RVs.
    • Walk-in campsites
      • You park your vehicle outside of the campsite.
      • You walk to where you will camp.
      • Walk-in campsites have less amenities.
    • Group campsites
      • For bigger groups of people.
      • Groups reserve areas for organized activities.

Backcountry camping

  1. More rustic type of camping.
    • Camp in the wilderness.
    • Hike, ski, canoe or kayak to reach your camp site.
  2. No facilities and amenities.
  3. For more skilled campers.

Planning for your first camping trip

  1. Choose a camp.
    • Reserve early.
    • Go early in the season (May/June). Or late September to avoid the crowds.
    • Check online to know the place. See:
    • Reserve online.
    • Know the 2018 Campground Operating Dates for Manitoba parks.
    • Know the following:
      • camp regulations (e.g. what you’re allowed to bring or use)
      • rules on changing or cancelling a reservation
      • facilities (e.g. washrooms, grills, fire pits, etc.)
      • pet regulations
      • activities
    • Call the park if you have questions. Ask before making a reservation.
  2. Make a checklist
  3. Get the right gear
    • Use the right equipment to make camping more comfortable.
    • Examples:
      • three-season tent
      • groundsheets protect the bottom of your tent
      • self-inflating mattress pads for sleeping
    • Buy cheaper alternatives:
      • thick blankets or sleeping bags instead of a mattress.
      • borrow a tent from a friend
      • rent equipment from local outdoor outfitters
    • Choose roofed or alternative accommodations if you don’t have equipment.
    • Wear proper clothes.
      • Layer your clothes.
      • Wear a shirt, vest and jacket. Take some layers off when it becomes warmer.
      • Bring a hats, extra socks and rain gear. You may need them if the weather changes.
  4. Learn how to pitch a tent
    • Learn basic camping skills.
      • Know how to pitch a tent
      • How to cook outdoors
    • Do a “dry-run” in your backyard. Sleep outdoors overnight.
    • Know safety practices to protect yourself and your family.
      • Know what to do when you see wildlife. Do not approach them or feed them.
      • Know which plants and insects are harmful.
      • Know what to bring for cure or protection.
    • Read the Camper’s Guide from Manitoba parks. It has basic do’s and dont’s.
  5. Prepare for emergencies
    • Pack a first aid kit.
    • Bring:
      • extra batteries for your flashlight
      • extra water
      • matches and fuel for lamps or stoves
      • a Swiss army knife
    • Bring medicines for yourself or family members. Don’t forget medicine for allergies or health/medical conditions.

Sources: Parks Canada site; Manitoba Parks and Protected Spaces. Both retrieved May 17, 2018.

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