New Canadians offered lessons on how to camp

Parks Canada has a new program that helps new Canadians learn how to camp in the great outdoors.Though the days of igloo and husky-mobile stereotypes are long behind us (we think), the vision of Canada as some untamed wilderness has still managed to cling to life outside our borders.

And while newcomers know that we drive motor vehicles and our cities contain concrete buildings, the opportunity to explore the country's more rugged terrain can prove an irresistible draw.

But if you've never pitched a tent or prepared for a nocturnal bear invasion, the task can seem more than a little daunting.

That's why Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op have jointly launched a new program to help new Canadians learn one of the quintessential Canadian pastimes: camping.

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As Westerly News reports, the program is designed to "infuse camping into the lifestyle of new Canadians."

"This is to build their skills and their confidence and to make sure that they've got the information and the skill building that they need in a comfortable group setting so that they can then go and camp with their friends and family on their own," Dennis Wasylenko of Parks Canada told the paper.

The program is being offered at a variety of camping sites across the country. Three spots, including the Pacific Rim, have hosted campfire neophytes this summer.

Sojourns along the Maritimes, Manitoba and Ontario have also garnered media attention.

Participants cite more than just a primer on "Canadian-style" camping as motivation to sign up.

The program can also be a way to make friends and bond over the shared experience of braving the wilderness together.

"It's an opportunity to meet people in the same situation as us. It's an interaction with people that are new," Carmen Padurean told the Vancouver Sun.

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The Romania native added that she planned to buy a tent now that her family knows how to camp.

Though camping, at least in its traditional form, promotes a deeper connection with nature (and a temporary disconnect from modern, urban life), the idea that everyone will be leaving smart phones at home is no longer the case.

So to ease all newly minted campers into self-sufficiency, Parks Canada has also unleashed a mobile app with similar step-by-step instructions — everything from what to pack to prime locations.

Because we have cell phone towers here in Canada, too.