Learn to Camp in the North

Did you know Ontario has a "Learn to Camp" program for beginners? For a fee, anyone interested in learning the basics (how to set up a tent, for starters) can come and learn in a safe, stress free setting! Camping equipment is included.

It's an official summer pastime in Canada: camping. It's the perfect way to get outdoors and enjoy the peaceful Canadian landscapes.

So why does it feel like every Canadian except for you was born with the innate knowledge of how to do these things? You're not alone! In fact, only 20% of Canadians go camping each year according to the Canadian Camping Association. 

Which makes sense. It can be a bit daunting for anyone. Purchasing hundreds of dollars in camping gear, getting the whole family ready, and making sure everything and the kitchen sink is packed can be near impossible for most families. Not to mention, you've never set up a tent or made a campfire in your life.

Ontario's Learn to Camp program is here to help. This program means that anyone that wants to can learn to camp overnight for a minimal cost in a safe, fun and stress-free environment. After all, Ontario's provincial parks are for everyone to enjoy–including you. 

What to expect with the Learn to Camp program 

What if there was a way to arrive at a provincial park to camp overnight, without experiencing all the set-up stress? Stress-free camping is possible at any one of Ontario's participating provincial parks, like Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Learn to Camp offers two levels of programming–a learn to camp overnight experience that's perfect for first time campers. Plus, a graduate overnight experience that offers a few more skills for those who have completed the first experience and want to know a bit more. 

This two or three day fun-filled program will walk new campers through everything they need to know, helping them learn important outdoor skills through hands-on experience. Also, don't worry about purchasing an expensive tent or camping equipment. It's all provided when you arrive to take part in the Learn to Camp Program. Plus, there's even a park bus that runs from major city centres like Toronto directly to many provincial parks for about $90 return. So gather up the family and get ready for an easy, accessible adventure like no other!

Below is a sample schedule of what campers can expect upon arrival at the provincial park of their choice. With a warm welcome and introduction from the local guide, campers will get an introduction to plants and animals, setting up a camp kitchen, setting up a tent, and building a campfire. Not to mention a few delicious camping meals and treats. 

9:30-10:00 am

Arrival and registration


Explore your new surroundings


Welcome and program introduction


Introduction to plants and animals


The camping kitchen: set-up, cooking, and clean-up




Setting up a tent


Recreation time


How to build a campfire (with treats)


Your first night camping: what to expect

5:00- 7:00



Group campfire (optional)

Sounds pretty fun, doesn't it? There's nothing more enjoyable than sitting around a campfire roasting some marshmallows for S'mores after a day spent in Ontario's beautiful wilderness. 

TIP: You can rent camping equipment for $30/day at participating Ontario Parks. 

How do I find out more about the Learn to Camp program? 

- Grundy Lake Provincial Park
- Learn to Camp Program Info
- Learn to Camp Program Availability
- Park Bus
Learn to Fish Program Info
- Northern Ontario Trip Planning

What do I need to bring on a camping trip?

Camping Checklist

So, you're ready to make S'mores around the campfire, and stargaze under a brilliant night sky. Don't forget some (or all) of the following on your next camping adventure. And keep in mind, you often don't need specialized camping clothing or equipment. A pair of running shoes and your regular clothing will work for basic camping. As long as you're warm and dry, it's all good. 


  • Tent (Provided by Learn to Camp)
  • Air mattresses (Provided by Learn to Camp
  • Sleeping Bag/Blankets
  • Pillows

Camp Kitchen

  • Food for all your meals
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Freezer bags/plastic containers
  • Hardware and utensils (Provided by Learn to Camp
  • Coleman stove (Provided by Learn to Camp)
  • Firewood (Always purchase firewood locally)


  • Close-toed comfortable shoes
  • Sandals
  • Socks/underwear
  • Long pants
  • Shorts
  • Long-sleeved shirt and sweater
  • Short sleeved shirts
  • Warm jacket/rain jacket
  • Pyjamas
  • Bathing suit
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses


  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent (provided by Learn to Camp) 
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Towels/washcloth

First-Aid Kit

  • Bandages
  • Ointments (ex. antiseptic, burn relief)
  • Tools (ex. scissor, tweezers, tape)
  • Medications (ex. for pain, fever, allergies)
  • Required prescriptions
  • Health Card

Outdoor Fun Equipment (optional)

  • Camera
  • Backpack
  • Water shoes
  • Sports equipment
  • Bikes/helmets/lights/locks
  • Fishing rod/tackle/fishing license*
  • Lantern (Provided by Learn to Camp

For Kids

  • Special blankets/ pillow
  • Whistle
  • Games or deck of cards
  • Storybooks
  • Favourite toy

* Fishing equipment is available for loan, free of charge, at all participating Tackle Share locations. Also, please note a fishing license may be required to fish. Click here for information on fishing licenses in Ontario.

So if you've ever wanted to try camping but had no idea where to start, the Learn to Camp program is for you. Plan ahead for the 2021 season and get ready to explore your own backyard. 

About Jamie McIntyre

Hey! I'm a outdoors enthusiast with a passion for travel in Northeastern Ontario. Check out my articles for ideas on where to travel. 

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