Do you have a camping fear or phobia? Don't worry, you're not alone. This fear is quite common amongst those who don't have a lot of experience outdoors. But there's good news...
Most of these fears are unfounded and they pretty much disappear once you actually get out and start enjoying your outdoor experience.
I've been afraid of camping for as long as I can remember. It's always seemed like a fun concept but I've never actually had the urge to do it myself, even when hearing stories of friends who have had amazing times in the great outdoors. It's just never been my thing, for several reasons.
Firstly, I do not like spiders. Or any kind of creepy crawly for that matter. I don't have any great hatred towards them, I just hate the thought (like most people) of them crawling over me while I'm sleeping. Secondly, I'm a bit of a germaphobe so I don't like the thought of unclean toilets and showers. Hence the reason why I prefer to stay in nice hotels, they're more likely to be clean!
Contrary to these facts though, I am not a stuffy person and I love to explore and have fun! So when Ryan's brother and his partner (Joey and Tiff) invited us camping in Canada it seemed like a good chance to conquer my fears.
Our arrival at the camp site
We camped at Harmony Acres camp site near Bruce Peninsula National Park, which is a huge natural area consisting of lakes, forests, cliffs and countless spots to take in the beautiful views and landscapes.
Upon arriving at the camp site, I realised we were actually staying in a small wooden cabin with two bunk beds, which was much more comfortable than a tent but also made me nervous because I know how spiders love to hide in the corners of log cabins! Ryan laughed at me when I was looking for the light switch inside the cabin - there was no electricity so I couldn't examine the corners for bugs. Needless to say I was a bit uneasy but still wanted to embrace this new experience.
We set about unloading our camping equipment, including stove, food and camping essentials like firewood and ingredients for smores! From the moment we arrived I really loved being in the forest - the smell of the pine, the camp fires and the distant music from other campers. Being outside with friends and family in the countryside in summer is the best part about camping for me.
Tip: Bring your own bed sheets, sleeping bags and pillows, these are not provided and can make your stay very comfortable.
Dinner, smores and bed time
Joey and Tiff were super organised, they had prepared everything from a pre mix of scrambled eggs, to pancake mix, to burgers and deserts. We made burgers on Joey's stove, and sat around the camp fire talking and playing games. We made smores (my first time!) and drank beers, a really fun first night.
You can't leave food or dirty dishes out, so we cleaned up our dishes using the communal tap and our own washing up liquid. We put all of our food and supplies in the car so as not to attract any unwanted visitors.
When it was time to put out the fire and go to bed, I got nervous about bugs over my head in the bunk. I attempted to sleep in the car but I couldn't get comfortable so I went back in to the cabin and tried to sleep. It was a restless night and I struggled to get used to the silence (Living in London it's never that quiet!). I probably had a couple of hours sleep and got up at 5am to start the day.
Tip: You need bug spray, and lots of it. We use this because it's 100% natural. A gas cooker is essential for all your camping cooking.
Visiting Bruce Peninsula
In the morning we made breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausages, and headed out in the car to Bruce Peninsula National Park. We trekked throughout the park stopping at lakes, view points and a spectacular beach of huge rocks called Boulder Beach. It was a hot day, so we did swim for a quick minute but the water was ice cold! The Park is truly amazing, and in some spots you feel like you are at the edge of the world.
We spent most of the day at the park, walking and soaking up it's beauty. In summer the park is busy with tourists and summer camps, kids cliff jumping (not recommended) and families having picnics and swimming, so get there early.
Tip: Bring a picnic with you, there aren't many places to buy food. Also bring sun cream if visiting on a warm day. We normally use this old faithful.
Our second night
By the second night, I had hugely warmed to the idea of camping. It's a great escape from city life, phones, emails and gadgets and the perfect way to spend real time with people. I still didn't sleep all that easily but I think after a few more days I would have been much more comfortable with the bugs and silence.
We did a bit of a walk around the camp site that night to find a spot without trees so we could see the stars, and...wow! A full sky of sparkly stars as far as the eye can see, there's nothing like it.
Our last morning
On our last morning, we made pancakes out of our pre made pancake mix, using foil pans on the stove. Then we headed to the showers to get ready for the drive back. The showers weren't all that clean but they were fine to quickly wash up.
We took pics with a horse that was grazing in a nearby stable and walked a bit around the camp site. We then went back to our spot, packed up and headed out to make the long drive back to Toronto.
My camping fear conquered
Our two days of camping in Canada is such a fond memory for me that I'd love to go again. I'm still not totally comfortable with the bugs but the experience itself was worth shacking up with the spiders. The only thing I'd do differently is we'd sleep in a tent so I could see the corners!