I just had the pleasure of two nights of canoe camping in Algonquin Park, a few hours North of Toronto. It was actually a pre-marriage event for my friends Mikey & Janelle, and instead of a traditional party, they organized a camping trip for 28 of their nearest and dearest!
Complete with canoe portages, lake swimming, and fire-toasted marshmallows, it definitely had its share of “outdoors-y-ness”. Lunch at the top of a 140-foot cliff was a highlight, and harmonizing around the campfire gave me my fix of music for the few days. I have to admit that I felt a little pampered as we chowed down on the chocolate fondue – an ingenious dessert requiring only a few items for dipping, a large Toblerone bar, a pot, and a campfire. Mikey and Janelle organized everything, and were exceptional hosts! They're exceptional people, in fact – making every event an opportunity for fun, creativity and “rich” living.
“Rich” living can sometimes be very simple, I think – making our own entertainment and getting by with the most essential elements of life – food, water, shelter, community. I consider myself fairly lucky: I grew up in a family that was able to make camping a regular part of summer vacations together – sometimes out of the back of a car, sometimes something slightly more rustic. I remember each day being like an adventure. We'd have to get food ready and maybe find a neat hiking place or swimming spot to visit, and then build a fire to end the day. Not complicated, but very fun. There's something great about being outside in the simplicity of things.
Trailers and cottages have their charm too, of course, but there's a difference. Of course I'm no hardcore hiker, and perhaps it's just my “tent camping upbringing” snootiness, but I always chuckle a little bit when someone says they love “camping” and then go on to explain how they “camp” at their 8 bedroom, 3 bathroom cottage, complete with 400 Satellite TV channels and every modern luxury. “Camping, eh?”
Actually, after my trip with Mikey and Janelle, I was chatting with a neighbor of mine, and she told me about her last “real tent-camping” experience when she was 16. “Just in our backyard, but it was fun. We didn't do much though - just watched TV.” I was a bit surprised. “TV?” “Yeah, we ran an extension cord from the house.” “Heh... Seriously?” “Well there's not much else to do.”
Do you ever wonder what it was like to live in the years before electricity? I sure do. My guess is that life was exceptionally boring. Just kidding. My guess is actually that people were much more creative with their time and much less dependent on external sources of entertainment. My guess is that people were more like kids – making up games on the spot because they felt like it and treating each day like an adventure. My guess is that people were more like Mikey and Janelle. What's your guess?
Ontario Parks Photo Contest Medalist: Lindsey Dawn Anderson
Algonquin Provincial Park
August 24, 2009
In wilderness is the preservation of the world."
-Henry David Thoreau
American Philosopher (1817-1862)
Joel Hilchey speaks and facilitates workshops across North America, empowering students, educators & business leaders who want to build stronger, more positive teams and communities. Contact him by phone at 1-877-487-5635 or check him out online at www.joelhilchey.com!
RIDDLE: I'm long and I'm thin and I'm bright and I'm keen. Dip me in and I'll move you where cars haven't been. You'll know I'm important and was once a tree, and up the river without me I'll hope you not be! What am I?
Interested in a presentation to help kick off the school year?
I've been getting some inquiries about availability for the fall.
Limited Fall dates are still available! Just email to ask.
I'm also exploring the idea of a system to help schools & people know when I'm going to be in their area. Any suggestions? What format would be best for you? Email inquiry? Automatic email notification? Website? I'm all ears!
In the meantime, I've already got tours in the works to Western United States, Virginia, Western Canada, Manitoba, the Maritimes, and of course Ontario. Email if you'd like to be a part of one of them!