In today’s post, Ankita Sharma shares her family’s camping experience with the Learn to Camp program.
Last summer, I convinced my Indian family of five to go camping in Emily Provincial Park.
The Sharmas had never been camping before, but suddenly here we are, standing in our camp.
My father looks at me and asks, “Where have you brought us?”
Our camp, surrounded by trees, is new territory for my mother. She quickly takes care of organizing our things. When the idea of sleeping outdoors crosses her mind, she jokes, “I’ll never be able to sleep in a tent tonight!” However, she is the one who was part of the girl scout camp team when she lived in India.
My older sister is the epitome of camping, she is completely relaxed and here for the complete outdoor experience. At home she is the one who installs our Ikea furniture. Here, she will be setting up our Learn to Camp team.
Being close to my sister or my mother, my younger brother is here to find food, water and the campfire. He is our Joey from the TV show Friends.
I am the reason these five are here and I will be the word and the camera for “When Sharma’s Went Camping!”
We are the perfect participants for Learn to Camp because the Sharmas know nothing about camping.
As we walk towards the Learn to Camp base camp, the session with leaders Mary and Sarah begins. They teach us how to set up tents and inflate air mattresses.
About safe installation and cleaning of the stove and the correct way to use the propane gas tank. The happy tutorials are satisfying and my parents appreciate knowing how to get the bed ready for an afternoon nap.
While they sleep, we spend the time before the campfire exploring the beach, trails, and natural heritage education programs at Emily Provincial Park. We meet Emily’s superstar, Snapping Turtle Spike, and learn about the Turtle Box Conservation Project, which has been protecting turtle nests for years.
Amidst all the fun, it’s hard to keep track of time, but the last session of the day is not to be missed as they are filled with melted chocolate laughter.
At dusk, Learn to Camp leaders teach us two ways to light the fire: tipi and log cabin.
As the marshmallows roast over the fire and the sun peeks out for a final glow, leaders share their experiences and advice. about the wildlife around us and safe practices for our time in nature while exploring and sleeping. Both leaders talk about their first night in the woods and some tips for keeping raccoons away from our campsite.
We slept very close to each other on our first night of camping. The cold night is quite an experience and ends with the sun. We wake up with a collective thought about how our senses are heightened in the dark and in the forest. Small noises feel much closer than they are.
With repeated thoughts, we prepared to leave our first camp.
Time in nature inspired Ankita to write this poem, which she included in a video of her family’s Learn to Camp experience:
Force me to sell myself
To the idea of the night in the forest.
The other side is cloudy
Audio ratios were complicated
In sync with nature’s playlist
Far away seemed closer
The starry sky seemed closer
Constant change of meanings.
wet in water
Land on water
around the dark
under the sky
With the movement of the waves
Between my sleepy body and the earth
With growing smell of burnt wood from body hair
When the cold took over the summer night
I recently found my feet
I have recently spoken about my thoughts.
I recently found wood.
Recently I have played with my senses.
I just started to exist
Minutes to recover
The sun comes on time
my words leave me
With breath vapor
Flying harmony of existence.
I slept through the final darkness
Reaching for the sun’s rays
Shaking bones from last night
Cold and persistent thoughts.