Camping

Camping Tips from a Non-Expert

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Are you planning on going camping before the summer is through? It’s on my list and I’ll be quite miffed if I don’t get to cross it off this summer. I may not seem like the camping sort, and truthfully there was a time not too long ago when that was true, but I’ve had a decent amount of experience over the past four years to give what I think are some decent tips and pieces of advice. A coworker of mine is heading up north this weekend for some good ol’ fashioned camping fun, and after hearing stories of my past life as a camp councilor she asked for some advice. I’d never spent a night in a tent before my first night as a councilor (why the hell they hired me, I’ll never know), but after two years working at a camp and two more years loving to camp on my own I’ve come up with some great camping strategies. So whether you’re heading out for one night or a full week, you may find these tips helpful.

Bug Repelling – Muskol is your best bet, if not than make sure your bug spray has a high deet percentage. For larger areas try vinegar in a spray bottle to spray around your camp site or even on the outside of your tent.

Hygiene – Don’t forget your hand sanitizer. When it comes to toothpaste, be sure to spray spit rather than just spit in a pile, it’ll attract bugs and animals. Swish with water than spray like someone just said something funny. Hopefully there are bathrooms near you too. Bring extra toilet paper.

Clothing – LAYERS!!! And extra socks.

Camp Fire – Best ways to light fire – Most important thing is to let fire breathe and allow oxygen in from the bottom. Always start the fire from as low down as possible and if blowing on it do so as low to the ground as possible, directing to the blue parts of the flames or under the smoking embers. Look up ‘teepee’ and ‘log cabin’ fires – those are the easiest to build. Dryer lint is also great for starting the flames.

Food – Less is more when it comes to travelling with food. Try to come up with several meals that can use the same ingredients so that you don’t need to travel with a lot of food. Always bring nuts, granola bars, and sources of protein that’ll keep you full. S’mores, banana boats, and oatmeal cookie apple pies are the best campfire snacks, and anything that can be cooked with a stick is just more fun! Don’t forget utensils and something to wash dishes with, and be sure to hid your food at night. Either in your car, up a tree, or in your tent. Or else say hello to bears and raccoons and goodbye to your food.

I have a ton of tricks to the camping game, so if you’re looking for any specific advice let me know! Tweet me or email me, I’d love to be your own personal camping planner!

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What Remains of the Summer Bucket List

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As much as it pains me to say, there isn’t much of summer left. Before you know it the kiddos will be back to school, your bright summer mornings will start off a little darker, and the lush green leaves will start to turn. So it’s time to make the most of these last few weeks. Time to do all the things that will make the summer memorable and finish off your summer bucket list! Here are a few things that I still need to cross off my list before the sun sets on my summer.

  1. Toronto’s CNE – (August 21 – September 7) Want to skip the crowds and snag yourself a cheaper ticket? Try the little known “After-Hours Ticket”, and still have the chance to experience the amazing foods and fun of the Ex. Although I grew up in the GTA, I had never been to the CNE until last year and it’s on the list for a must-do this year.
  2. Camping – Whether you head up north or somewhere far from the lights and sounds of the city, or simply pitch the tent in your backyard, camping is one of my favourite summer activities. I may not seem like the kind of girl who’s willing to rough it, but a good four day camping trip with no cell reception and no showers sounds great to me! No makeup! Campfires, flame cooked food, fishing, swimming, etc. I love it all. Time to start planning a weekend in the tent.
  3. Drive-In Movie – Another summer activity I hadn’t tried until last summer! I love the late summer nights with the windows open sitting in my own little mini theatre – my car! My only problem is finding a time where they show movies I want to see. I like going to Drive-In 5 in Oakville since it’s closer to where I live but they’re also offering outdoor movies in Yorkville for the month of September!
  4. Patio Drinks – Hemingway’s, The Distillery District or Kensington Market. That’s all I have to say. You’re missing out if you’ve never spent a summer night in any of these hot spots.

What do you still want to do before summer is over?! It seems to go by so fast…..before we know it the snow will be back!

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What’s In My Travel Bag: Camping

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As much as I love travelling to exotic places and big flashy cities, I LOVE travelling North to the Muskoka’s and the Canadian cottage country. There is nothing like relaxing by the lake while surrounded by the beautiful Canadian pines, like an image from the Group of 7 (my favourite group of Canadian artists). But when you’re going to be in the middle of nowhere with no one around and limited shower access what are you gonna do? So what do you pack for a long weekend of camping?

Most important is your SPF. No matter the weather, SPF is extremely important. Even on a cloudy day you can burn. I packed three different SPF products. The first is my sunscreen, the Neautrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen with an SPF of 60. This sunscreen is great! I find it hard to find a good one that isn’t greasy but has a high SPF. I feel confident enough with this SPF that I even put it on my face. The second SPF product I brought along was my Smashbox BB Cream that has an SPF of 15. Although this SPF is quite low, I usually apply it on top of my Neutrogena Sunscreen and I don’t feel the need to reapply throughout the day. Although I don’t see the need to bring makeup or foundation along on a camping trip, it’s nice to have the option of a tinted moisturizer or BB Cream for those days we travel into town to pick up some stuff at the local market. And finally, I always always bring my Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment that has an SPF of 20. There is nothing worse than burnt lips!! SO painful. Personally I think conditioning and protecting your lips is just as, if not more, important than applying sunscreen on any other part of your body.

After the important SPF products, it’s always important to have soothing products for those ‘just in case’ moments when you forget to reapply the SPF. I’m not very picky with Aloe Vera brands, but I love the packaging and scent of the Banana Boat Soothing Aloe After Sun Gel. Although it’s super soothing, I sometimes worry about applying it on my face just in case it clogs my pores. So in that case I use Bioderma Hydrabio Serum, a super hydrating moisturizer for super sensitive skin, great on those sensitive burns. And finally, for an added boost of moisture and for easy conditioning I love the Body Shop’s Vitamin E Face Mist.

To round it all off, I never go camping or to the cottage without one of my Buff’s. If you’ve never seen a buff before or heard of buffs, they are amazing!! It’s a headband, scarf, bandana, shirt, wrist band and so many more things all roped into one!! Ever watched Survivor? They wear buff’s all the time. My buff obsession can be traced back to my camp counselor years – perfect for those hot showerless days to cover your unwashed hair. My buff is grey with a map pattern.

So what do you bring camping? Have you used any of these products before?