Great Family Camping at Long Point Provincial Park #Review

VWK - Long Point Provincial Park

VWK - Long Point

For the past few years we have camped in Norfolk County at Long Point Provincial Park, partially because we know it’s a great place to camp and also because the beach is awesome.

Long Point is about a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto and located on Lake Erie and when I say ON lake Erie I pretty much mean it.  Here’s a picture to show you…

Long Point Chart

The Beach

VWK - Long Point

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Okay so let’s cover the beach first.  The beach is covered in beautiful sand and goes on for miles and is perfect for making sandcastles.  Although the beach tends to get busier with day-trippers on the weekend, there is ample space for everyone so you don’t feel sardined as the beach is very wide.  Make sure to pack your frisbee, soccer ball or kite as there is lots of open area to play. There is no rocks or seaweed on the beach as it is well maintained but there is the odd fallen tree log that is great for taking a cute shot of the kids!  Sunsets can be seen perfectly on the beach and if the weather allows, I highly recommend you catch one while you’re there.

VWK - Long Point Beach The water is shallow which is great for younger kids or big kids like me that need to slowly get used to the water.  Many days there are great waves so be sure to bring your boogie boards to ride the waves.  Skim boards and kayaks are also a great way to have fun at the beach.   Although the waves can be fun, they also come with an undertow that can be dangerous on certain days.  Since the beach does not have lifeguards, it is the parents responsibility to watch their children carefully and especially when the undertow is strong.

The Campground

VWK - Long Point

Long Point Provincial Park is home to 4 different campgrounds.  Firefly, Monarch and Turtle Dunes are located in the newer section of the park while Cottonwood is set apart from the others and is considered the ‘old park’

Cottonwood is where we choose to camp as it a smaller park and the beach is only steps away from nearly every site.  The park is a beautiful sand dune environment, with very few sites having grass coverage.  

Water stations are located all over the park where you can find water for cooking, cleaning and drinking.  The water is tested daily and is cleared for personal consumption.

Washrooms are kept fairly clean and are always stocked with soap and toilet paper.  Showers are  located centrally in the park with roomy stalls with good water pressure a change are and the best part is that they are FREE

The Playground contains a teeter-totter and swings and is filled with more sand.  It’s a great place for kids (and adults) to make new camp friends and let out some energy.

VWK - Long Point

All sites are equipped with a fire pit with a removable cooking grate.  Wood can be purchased for cooking and campfires at the main camp store.

Fireflies – At night time the park is lit up with fireflies!  Watch for them in the bushes, one your tent or flying by your head.  They are sure to give you a cool show!

Check-out time is 2:00pm but you are welcome to move to the day-use area of the park until 10:00pm or use the public beach for the day

** NOTE: Cottonwood is a Radio-free park and non-electrical

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Tips for Camping at Long Point

VWK - Long Point

Non-reservable sites –  Cottonwood has 25 non-reservabe sites that are first come, first served. Check out the non-reseravbles before you set up camp as you may find one that is more suited to your tastes.  The camp office will gladly switch you to a non-reservable site upon arrival if you find one you prefer.

Bring your bikes – There are lots of places to bike and you can take a trip to the ‘new park’ to play on their bigger playground, go get some ice cream or just to check out the local cottages.

Port Rowan is the nearby town (about 10 mins away) and has a grocery store, LCBO, ice cream shop, general store and restaurant

Bring a beach tent – Due to the fact that the beach is quite big, there is plenty of room to set up a beach tent to take a break from the hot sun and shelter ou from the wind.

Watch for snakes, frogs and turtles – not that they are going to hurt you but because they are cool to watch and quite common at Long Point

Poison Ivy – Stay out of the grassy areas as there is lots of poison ivy throughout the park

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Long Point is a place not to be missed wether you are going for the day or staying for a week.  You will fall in love with the beach and keep coming back, like we do, year after year.

Feel camping challenged? Never fear, & have you covered with their Learn to Camp program

HELP!! My baby is going to sleep away camp for the first time!

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So we made the commitment to send our 7 yr old son to Ontario Pioneer Camp for a week of sleep-away camp in the summer of 2013. We had been to Pioneer Camp as a family in the springtime and knew what a great place it is and how awesome their staff is so we knew this would be a good place for his first camp experience.

As time got closer I began to panic about him being away for an entire week when he’s never been away from us for more than one night and generally his little sister is with him. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we send him with a friend or cousin? He was so excited to go so cancelling due to my panic and worry was not an option.

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In the end, he was going and I knew that what I needed to do was to make myself feel at ease about him going. How does a Mom do this? Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Now I know some of you will laugh at this, but one of the main things I was concerned about was him wearing the same outfit the entire week. Really would it harm him if he did? Well, No but I wanted to give him the option to wear fresh clothes if he so chose. So I went out and bought x-large Ziploc bags and in 7 of them I packed a pair of shorts, t-shirt, socks and underwear. Voila, all he had to do was pull out a new bag each day! By the way, the camp counsellors loved this!

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Because he is such a Mommy’s boy (or so I tell myself) and he can be a wee bit on the emotional side, I was worried that he would be terribly homesick and wonder “What? They actually left me here? What were they thinking?” Every time the phone rang that week, my stomach jumped as I was sure the camp was calling to say he missed me. Nope it was always somebody wanting to clean my ducts! So assuming the worst I needed to prepare him to deal with his home sickness should it occur. So here’s what I did:

– Packed his favourite stuffie wearing “camp clothes” so he could be one of the campers and would be there for him to hug if need be

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– Had friends and family write letters so he would have a letter from home to open every day from somebody he loves

– One of my Twitter followers suggested I send him with pictures from home so I made him a little book of pictures with little messages under them

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Being a picky eater, I figured he would either starve or learn to eat new things. But just in case, I stocked him with money in the tuck shop so worst case scenario, he could eat chocolate bars and iced tea all week. Thankfully he didn’t starve and we actually got money back from the tuck shop but it was nice to know he had the option. By the way, he thinks Pioneer Camp makes the BEST chicken. Ahem, i’ll have to get that recipe.

Knowing they would have some downtime, I bought him a new book, as he’s an avid reader, and some fun magazines that he could read.

Lastly I packed him a camera and notebook so he could take pictures and write about his camp adventures.

So after all this preparation, the week at camp is over and we go to pick him up. He runs over to hug us all and then runs back to his friends. Uhm, hello? It’s me Mommy!!

Here’s how it all pans out:

– The clothes packing went over well and he wore everything.

– His teddy bear was a cabin favourite and he got along well with the other stuffies

– He ate a ton and actually gained 5 lbs,

– His notebook had a small scribble in it

– His books were unread

– Somedays he forgot to open his letters had to play catch up

– He looked at his picture book once.

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Needless to say he had a BLAST at Ontario Pioneer Camp and probably would have stayed another week if we’d have let him. My worrying and preparation was not necessary but yes I would do it all over again and probably will next year.

It was hard to let my baby go but I know he made great memories, had so much fun, stepped out of his comfort zone and in the end that is all that matters

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Thank you again to the staff at Ontario Pioneer Camp from the bottom of my heart for making my boy’s first camp experience an awesome one that will keep us coming back year after year!

Read about our family trip to Ontario Pioneer Camp in the Spring and what our kid’s had to say about it.

Don’t forget to follow OPC on Twitter, Facebook and visit their website for more info on this amazing place

10 Family Favourite Campfire Treats

Campfire

Campfire

Campfire treats is one of the things that our kids look the most forward to when we go camping.  Basically the sweeter and gooier, the better.  Kids just like to be able to make their own creation so just be sure to have lots of marshmallows, fruit and chocolate on hand.

Here are some of our favourite desserts and goodies we like to make on the campfire!  Enjoy!

Camping Treats

S’mores 

Probably one of the most popular of all campfire treats is s’mores.  Easy to make and oh so yummy

What you will need:

  • Package of marshmallows
  • Chocolate bar (we prefer Hershey’s)
  • Package of graham crackers

Note:  You can use chocolate covered cookies in place of the graham crackers and chocolate bar

Roast marshmallow to preferred doneness.  Place a piece of chocolate on one graham cracker and then place the marshmallow on top and place another graham cracker on top.  Squeeze the graham crackers together to melt the chocolate and squish the marshmallow down.  Enjoy!

Campfire Cinnamon Twists

Campfire Cinnamon Twists

What you will need:

  • 1 package of ready to bake biscuits
  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Butter

Take a piece of the biscuit make into a snake shape and then wrap it around a cooking skewer or stick. Cook over the fire until golden brown. Roll in butter and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar all over it and warm over fire for about 30 seconds to melt the butter and crisp up the suer and cinnamon.

Campfire Crumble recipe

Campfire Crumble

What you will need:

  • Oatmeal Cookies
  • Pie Filling or favourite fruit
  • Cinnamon
  • Tin Foil

Take 2 cookies per person and crumble one into the bottom of the foil.  Top with fruit, cinnamon (if desired) and the other crumbled cookie.  Wapr it all up and cook on grill over fire until warm

Campfire treats

Chocolate Fondue

What you will need:

  • Chocolate bars to melt
  • Dipping stuff: cookies, fruit skewers, marshmallows
  • Pot

Place pot of chocolate near embers to melt the chocolate.  Dip roasted marshmallows, fruit skewers and cookies into the chocolate.  Warn the kids to be careful as the chocolate will be super hot

Campfire treats

Campfire Baked Cinnamon Apples

What you will need:

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown sugar
  • Little bit of butter
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil

Cut the apple in half and take out the core. Place the apple halves on a piece of aluminum foil and fill the apple with the desired amount of cinnamon and sugar and a little bit of butter.  Put the apple back together and wrap the apple up and place in coals for about 20 mins.  Be sure to rotate for even cooking.

Campfire desserts

Dessert Tortillas

What you will need:

  • Soft tortilla
  • Bananas, Strawberries or Apples Chocolate, caramels, and marshmallows, coconut, peanut butter
  • Icing Sugar
Place the tortilla on a piece of foil and place your desired toppings inside leaving enough room to roll it up.  Wrap in foil once rolled and place on the coals or girl to melt filling.  When done, unwrap and sprinkle with icing sugar

Campfire treats

Campfire Cones

This one is one of our kid’s favourites as it’s customized to their liking

What you will need:

  • Ice cream cones (Waffle or sugar cones work best)
  • Filling – marshmallows, fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, toffee bits, cereal, granola
  • Foil (enough to wrap each cone)

Stuff each cone with the fillings of your  choice and wrap the cone in the foil.  Place on grill or on coals and rotate until the contents are all melted together.

Banana Boats

Banana Boat

What you will need:

  • Banana
  • Hersheys chocolate bar or chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows or mini marshmallows
  • Additional items you could add: Caramels, nuts, cereal pieces, sprinkles, butterscotch chips,
  • Aluminum foil

Leave the banana in the peel and cut it down the middle.  Put all your toppings you’ve chosen in the middle of the banana.  Wrap in the aluminium foil and bake in the coals or on the grill until contents are melted

Campfire treats

Ooey Gooey Brownies

What you will need:

  • Two-bite Brownies
  • Marshmallows
  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate chips

Place broken up brownie pieces on a large piece of foil.  Top with marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate chips.  Wrap up tight and warm on fire to melt the chocolate and marshmallows.  Open up and enjoy!!

Camping treats

Grilled Stuffed Waffles

What you will need:

  • Frozen waffles
  • Ingredients to stuff your waffles with:  Chocolate, marshmallows, fruit, nuts …

Place your favourite ingredients between two thawed waffles and wrap up in foil.  Place on grill or over coal to toast the waffles and melt the stuffing.  Be sure to rotate package often so you don’t burn the waffles.

 

 What’s your family’s favourite campfire treat? 

Camper Etiquette

Camper Etiquette

Courtesy of our friends at Camping in Ontario

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How To Ensure You and Other Campers Have a Great Experience

Allow others to enjoy their camping trip. Most campers drive for hours and plan far in advance for their camping trips to our beautiful parks and campgrounds. Some of the reasons for going camping are to get away from it all, and spend time with our families breathing the fresh air and taking in the beautiful surroundings. That is why it can be very disappointing to finally arrive at the campground only to have people at other campsites making your trip hard to enjoy. If we all follow these simple guidelines, everyone at the park should be able to have a great camping trip.

  • Do not walk through other campsites, even if it would make it easier to get to washrooms or other park locations. Walking through another person’s campsite is very intrusive and many people will find this offensive.
  • Keep your pet on a leash at all times, it can be a nuisance to have other pets on your campsite when you are trying to relax. Even though you may not feel it is a big deal, not everyone wants your dog running through their campsite.
  • Do pick up after your dog. Nothing spoils a walk more than stepping in dog-do (especially with bare feet). Bring a scoop or plastic bag to pick up and dispose of properly. Special bags can be found at pet supply stores. Some camp stores carry them as well.
  • Always fully extinguish your campfire when sleeping or leaving your campsite. Not only is it dangerous and against most park regulations, but the smoke can become overwhelming when a campfire is not maintained properly.
  • Be thoughtful when using a radio, observe radio-free zones and take the time to ask if the radio is too loud for your campsite neighbors.
  • Minimize noise around the campfire late at night. Although everyone loves sitting around the campfire, if your group stays up late at night, understand that many other campers are trying to sleep.
  • Don’t leave trash at your campsite. The smell alone will bring many visitors while you sleep or when you leave your site for a hike. When found by raccoons or other critters, the noise of them fighting for the food scraps and the fact that they will drag the trash throughout the park make this a nuisance. Take your trash to the park provided garbage bin and recycling containers.
  • Don’t wash your dishes at the water fountain or tap. When filling up your water container at the water tap, no one wants to wait while others wash dishes as that leaves a mess and odour that is unpleasant. Wash dishes on your campsite and dump any remaining waste in the waste vault or park provided location.
  • Keep your fire under control. Although you may enjoy a bonfire, this type of activity can become intrusive and overwhelming to your campsite neighbors. This may also be against park regulations and can become hard to manage.
  • Introduce yourself to your campsite neighbors. There is no better way to start off your camping vacation than to say “hello” and introduce yourself to your campsite neighbors. Knowing your neighbors helps with campsite security while you are away from your site, and may come in handy if you forgot any items at home like sugar or sunblock.

Choosing a Campground and Campsite

Have camping on the list of things to do this summer with your family? Choosing the campground that is right for your family will make all the difference in your camping experience.

Some things to consider when choosing a campground:

Distance – Depending on whether you are seasoned campers or going for your first time choose how far away you want to travel.  Take into consideration how far you would be willing to travel in the middle of the night should a big storm roll in and you want to go home. Length of stay – Does the campground offer enough to keep your family entertained for the duration of your trip Needs of your family – Does the campground have all the amenities that your family wants i.e.. Beach, pool, playground, snack shop, kids activities, hiking trails, bathroom amenities… Word of mouth – Ask around to friends and family to see what Campgrounds and sites they recommend.  Word of mouth is always a great way to go! Family-Camping Check out the online campground locators available to help you find a great campground that fits all your needs. Camping in Ontario‘s website offers a great interactive campground locator where you can search by region, amenities or keywords. Ontarioparks.com allows you to search for campgrounds in Provincial Parks alphabetically, by region, proximity and by services.  

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Some things to consider when choosing your campsite:

The land – Look for a site that is level and has some grass cover if not fully grassed.  A sandy site means sand, sand everywhere and really do you want to be sweeping out the tent for your entire trip? Tree cover – It is important that your site has some tree cover so you can get some relief from the hot sun Traffic – Try and stay away from sites at the front of the park as they will most likely see the most traffic.  Also, avoid getting a site that borders on a busy road or train track outside the park that could create extra unwanted noise. Bathrooms – Being near a bathroom may sound like a good idea for those late night, half asleep hikes for a bathroom break but keep in mind the foot traffic that will be coming by your site at all hours and not to mention the possible stench. Now if you have a child you are potty training at the time consider bringing a portable potty. Pool/beach – Yes you want to be close enough to walk to the water but keep in mind that proximity to water can also be dangerous when you have little ones.  Picking a site that is a safe, walkable distance is probably your best bet. Playground – Many campgrounds have playgrounds to entertain the little ones.  Being close to the playground is probably a good idea as they will likely want to visit it numerous times a day original Okay you’ve selected your campground and campsite now you need to decide what to bring. Check out these great Camping Checklist from Ontario Parks and Coleman Canada