Camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park

We pulled into the entrance of Bonnechere Provincial Park with a pop up camper full of clothes, gear and sunscreen. It was the first day of summer vacation and we were ready. We camp with the vigour of what one would expect after having been cooped up in the Ottawa winter for months on end. This summer we will spend 20+ nights under the stars and Bonnechere was our first camping trip of the season.

When camping at Bonnechere Provincial Park...


1. You will be enveloped in green. The trees tower above campsites, dance along the edge of the river and provide an endless canopy of nature. We saved our canoe trip until our last morning at the park and I am so happy that we did. We wandered lazily through the river, Ben and I in the front. Andrew paddling and steering from the back while our twin daughters took turns rowing in a second canoe with my Brother-in-law.


2. You will have space to spread out. Our pop up trailer, mini van, picnic tables and my Brother-in-law's tent all fit with room to spare on our site. We had neighbors across the road and on either side of our site but we hardly took notice with all of the trees in between.


3. You will spend almost all of your time at the beach because it's the best beach within two hours drive of Ottawa. It's wide and deep and the sand is easy on the toes. It's close enough to the bathrooms and the camp store (where we may have indulged in a jumbo freezie or two).


The beach is very stroller friendly and easily walkable from all campsites. Our girls love digging "hot tubs" - their version of a hole deep enough to find water and wide enough to fit in. I just loved watching how generous they were with Ben as he climbed in and out of their works in process without any compliments from either of them.


4. You will lose track of time between trips to the playground, the beach, canoeing and trail exploring you may just find yourself tucking your two year old into bed at 9 pm... One thing Andrew and I have learned over our almost 8 years of camping with children is that you have to let go of some of the routines when you are camping. Trying to convince a child that it's bedtime when full daylight is pouring into your tent at 7 pm is comical - but go ahead and try.


5. Lose yourself for a few minutes (or seconds if you are a parent to three children). The trees on our campsite were perfectly positioned to hang our hammock and the nature of being outside for days on end lends itself to these fleeting moments of stillness.


6. Let them explore. There is a certain freedom that comes with camping. While we were always right behind them, it's fun to let the kids be the first ones to explore and pick the path.


7. Peddle. Our daugther Isla learned to confidently bike on two wheels last summer at Sandbanks and now there is no stopping the two of them. Being on a small loop like we were at Bonnechere made us comfortable with the girls going for short loops on their bikes during daylight as long as they regularly checked in at the site. I love being able to give them this bit of freedom.


8. Watch them be kind to each other because they are outside and free of routine. I think shaking things up by being outside with no set plans is good for all of us.



9. Go for a canoe. Because it's possibly the most peaceful hour you will have on this trip. We chose to follow the river and we passed turtles and wound along


10. There is something calming about the trees - of course there is. I myself find myself staring straight up through the leaves leaned back against the nylon of our old camp chairs


11. Visit the store


12. Borrow a book from a tree - yes you read that right.


13. Drink coffee playground side - likely my most favourite activity of the day and the campground at Bonnechere Provincial Park is a real winner.


14. Get closer. Because that's why we camp right? To get back to nature and to each other.

Thank you so much to Parks Ontario for partnering with us on this trip. We had a wonderful time and have officially added Bonnechere to our list of local go-to campgrounds.

Comments

  1. The book "The Nature Fix" by Florence Williams discusses studies done in other countries about the health benefits of being in nature, and specifically trees :) Its a great read (or listen) and confirms to me the importance of getting outside! Bonnechere is a great spot.

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