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Twenty families ‘Learn to Camp’ at Fort Rodd Hill

Parks Canada event teaches essential skills to host of new campers
Cari Gong and her son Alan pack up their tent after a night at Fort Rodd Hill. Their camping experience was part of Learn to Camp, an annual event that teaches camping newcomers how to properly prepare for the wilderness. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

A large contingent of first-time campers left Fort Rodd Hill happy after the Parks Canada site’s sixth annual Learn to Camp event.

Roughly 20 families, many of them recent immigrants to Canada, spent July 22 camped under the stars among family, friends and Parks Canada staff. They learned how to set up their own tents, ways to cook a variety of campground meals and basic skills to keep their families safe in the wilderness.

“It provides an opportunity for folks who haven’t camped in the past and gives them a quick introduction [while] doing that in a very safe environment,” said Parks Canada promotion officer Sophie Lauro.

Lauro noted that it was also a great opportunity for families to form bonds with one another.

She hopes that the introduction will help foster an enthusiam for camping among participants of all generations and walks of life.

“Waking up in nature to the sounds of the birds, to the warmth of the sun, to the smell of the grass. It’s beautiful and it’s unique and it’s so special to our country,” she said.

Zhanna Fabrikova camped with her husband and two children. The family immigrated from the Ukraine early last year and had never been camping prior to this weekend.

“It was great … it was a very good experience,” she said. “We gained a lot of new knowledge and it was a good family experience.”

Cari Gong spoke to the Gazette while she packed up her tent with the help of her son, Alan, on Sunday morning. She said she enjoyed getting some fresh air and feels as if she learned a lot of essential camping skills to take with her going forward.

“Now I have confidence to set up my own tent and I know what I’m going to bring camping,” she said.

Those looking for more camping tips, including the basics on campground cooking, will have another chance to do so this weekend in North Saanich. Parks Canada is hosting a free drop-in workshop from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the McDonald Campground in the Gulf Islands Park Reserve (10740 McDonald Park Road).