Getting in touch with nature, exploring the great outdoors, and “unplugging” for a while sounds like a great idea, but for those who have never done it before it may seem overwhelming.
At Waldorf Academy, we believe teaching kids about camping so they gain an appreciation for it from a young age, and hopefully get them excited over the prospect of a weekend away.
Let’s talk about camping.
Waldorf And The Outdoors
Waldorf schools believe teaching children about the outdoors is crucial to their development.
This is why camping is part of Waldorf Academy curriculum, in addition to other outdoor activities such as gardening, or even just going outside for classes such as science and gym.
In fact, outdoor play is one of the foundational principles upon which Rudolf Steiner built the Waldorf educational system.
At the first school Steiner opened, in Stuttgart in 1919, he outlined his view of child development which integrated physical, psychological, and spiritual development.
In some European Waldorf schools, in fact, kindergarten students spend nearly the entire day outdoors.
Here in Toronto, Waldorf students participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities, including gardening, composting, free play, outdoor arts and crafts, bush craft, and more.
However precious our natural spaces are within the city, though, it doesn’t compare with camping.
At the end of the school year at Waldorf Academy, it’s a tradition for families to go to Killbear Provincial Park, where we transform the “Beaver Dams” campground into a village where children wander and play freely.
They can visit other campsites, play games on the beach, put on skits on the great rock as the Sun sets, and join the community in a massive potluck on the Canadian Shield.
While older students take risks cliff jumping and gather around the campfire playing the guitar and singing, families have the option of choosing a site with electricity or joining another family on the same site as they build their camping skills.
Why Is Camping Important?
Camping can help children to gain the courage to try new things, develop their skills, and practice problem solving skills.
It can also provide children with the opportunity to try new skills, like canoeing, kayaking, swimming, or stargazing, or to build on the skills they’ve learned at school.
Although many children will attend structured camps through school, or during the summer vacation, camping with the family is a great way for parents and children to bond, and there are many locations in Ontario which are great for everyone from beginners to the most experienced campers.
5 Beautiful Campgrounds In Ontario
Ontario is a vast province with many great parks and campsites.
While some of these are widely-known (Algonquin Park probably comes to mind, or the Bruce Peninsula Park) there are many more lesser-known “hidden gems” which will probably be less crowded – especially if you’re planning to make it a long-weekend getaway.
Let’s have a look at some of these.
1. Thousand Islands National Park
Located about in Eastern Ontario, about 1.5 hours from Ottawa, Thousand Islands National Park perfect for a long weekend trip, because you won’t spend the entire weekend driving there from Toronto.
This is a great choice if you are new to camping and don’t have a lot of equipment, as the park offers “oTENTiks” (a cross between a tent and a cabin) to stay in.
Thousand Islands is known for its location along the beautiful St. Lawrence river, so this is a great opportunity to help your children explore the different activities along the bank of a river, like kayaking and swimming.
Before you go, be sure to pack long, loose clothing, and know how to look for ticks (and what to do if you find them) as they are prevalent in this part of the province.
2. Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park
An hour north of North Bay, this park will truly put you in touch with nature.
This is a “wilderness class park” meaning it does not have facilities for visitors and is the most natural, undisturbed camping setting you will find.
Cans and bottles are not permitted in this park, food must be brought in in reusable containers.
In the middle of this park you’ll find an ancient network of rivers Canada’s indigenous people have used for centuries to travel via kayak or canoe, as well as some of Ontario’s highest elevations, so bring your hiking boots.
Prepare for warm days and chilly evenings – ensure you have a sleeping bag rated to -7°C and lots of layers.
3. Wheatley Provincial Park
Nearthe southernmost point in all of Canada, in Chatham-Kent region, the weather here tends to be warmer than some of the more eastern and northern sites in the province (this park is the same latitude as Northern California).
This campground has sandy beaches, and lots of forests, creeks, and campsites making it a great place to take the family.
If you want to make a trip later in the fall, consider coming for Hallowe’en, when campers will dress up and decorate their sites.
4. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Located on Lake Superior, east of Thunder Bay, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a great place to watch wildlife.
With over 80 km of trails, you can take lots of day-hikes, bring your bike, or go for the challenging 40 km Kabeyun Trail for an overnight trek.
5. Driftwood Provincial Park
Located in Stonecliffe, on the Ottawa river, this park is a great place to set a base-camp for exploring.
With a large sandy beach, and spectacular sunsets this is a great spot to bring the family for a weekend getaway.
Contact Waldorf Academy
If you believe in teaching children about the great outdoors, and want your child to get an education which emphasizes the importance of getting in touch with nature, you’ll want to consider a Waldorf Education.
Contact us today to learn about what we have to offer, and find out if Waldorf is right for your family.