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Your Guide to Summer Camping

Thinking about going camping for the summer? Make sure you and your family have a safe and fun camping experience by following this checklist.

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Algonquin Provincial Park Photo: Shutterstock

For Newbies

The spot:
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Why you should go:
This massive parcel of Crown land is perfect for a first foray into the wilderness. There’s a bunch of campgrounds just off Highway 60-try Pog Lake, which is slightly more private than the popular Lake of Two Rivers and Rock Lake. Picnic tables and firepits are available at every site, while easy access to trails, beaches, bathrooms and showers sweetens the deal.

The gear:
A family of four can hunker down comfortably in Mountain Equipment Co-op’s new Cabin 4 tent; there’s even a divider to split the tent in half foradded privacy. At just under two metres, it’s tall enough to change in without slouching, and sections can be added to the front or back to store your packs. $349,

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For Divas

For Divas

The spot:
Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Why you should go:
So you can’t quite afford the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Thailand. This 22-hectare spot is secluded and swanky: accommodations include a Mongolian-style yurt and four-star chalets with wood stoves. Restaurant staff will whip up a gourmet pizza or vegan nosh while you lounge oceanside in a Japanese cedar hot tub. Oh, yeah, you’re totally camping.

The gear:
If you’re a fetal sleeper and the thought of a rectangular bag horrifies you, Nemo Equipment’s Spoon Shape Sleeping Bags have got your back, er, side. You’ll have no trouble curling up in this design, which is wider at the elbows and knees so you can roll over, but still tapered at the head and feet to keep you toasty. From US$229,

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Mount Robson Provincial ParkPhoto: Shutterstock

For Experts

The spot:
Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

Why you should go:
If you’re an experienced backcountry hiker, this park-which turns 100 this year-and its Berg Lake Trail are on your bucket list. The trail itself is heavily travelled, but there’s a ton of glacier-carved scenery to discover off the beaten path, in the shade of the Canadian Rockies’ highest peak. (Heads up, adrenalin junkies: the first part of the trail allows mountain bikes.)

The gear:
The Petzl Naois being heralded as a backcountry game changer. Marketed as the first “intelligent” headlamp, the device uses a sensor to adjust to what you’re seeing: it will soften to save power and make for easier reading when you consult a map, and go long when you’re in need of a spotlight in an open space. A USB battery charger will keep it running right. $159,

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CampsitePhoto: Shutterstock

How Do I Pick a Campsite?

1.    Plan ahead. Sites in national and provincial parks can fill up quickly.
2.    Consult the maps on park websites. Private sites are hot commodities, as are secluded corner sites. If you have young kids, camp near a bathroom.
3.    Come time to pitch the tent, find a spot that’s flat, root-free and not at the bottom of a slope (that way, if it rains, your shelter won’t be inundated).

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Fire at campsite Photo: Shutterstock

How Do I Make a Fire?

Should you decide that warmth trumps a glossy manicure, follow these steps:

1.    Start with a flammable base of newspaper strips, paper towel and kindling (small, thin pieces of wood).
2.    Top with more kindling arranged in a teepee orlog-cabin shape. Pile on one or two large logs to give the fire lasting power.
3.    Light the base* and watch it burn.

*If you’re stuck, use a fire starter. A match that burns for minutes on end, it’s meant for windy or wet conditions-and amateurs.

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Mother and son bearPhoto: Shutterstock

What Do I Do if I See a Bear?

If it keeps to itself:
Stay quiet and back away slowly or make a wide detour away from it.

If it approaches curiously:
Talk softly and back away, avoiding eye contact. Don’t run.

If it attacks because you’ve inadvertently surprised it and:
It’s a grizzly: Play dead. Drop to a cannonball position-hands behind your neck, face in your knees-and stay still.
It’s a black bear: Try to retreat. Talking in a low, calm voice can help. If contact is made, drop, lie on your stomach and put your hands behind your head. Stay quiet.

If it attacks after stalking you:
Head for a car or building. If there isn’t one nearby-and the bear is a grizzly-climb a tree. As a last resort, use a deterrent or a weapon.

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