I blame my daughter’s love of camping on a broken air conditioner during the summer of ’88 when she was 10 months old. Our home had been sweltering hot but it was even worse outside, and so I decided in my young-mom wisdom to fill a small Coleman cooler with tepid water, and plop her in it, sitting up. With little wriggle room and no chance of keeling over (the cooler was hard-sided) she sat there looking peaceful, although a little perplexed.
The first time we ever went camping came about the next summer when I was eight months pregnant with her little brother. At the time, I figured we’d take this last chance before the baby came to get away together, just the two of us, and go camping at a provincial park less than an hour from our home. Camping was not really my thing, mind you, but like many toddlers, little Samantha liked to sit inside the makeshift tents formed when we’d drape blankets over the kitchen table and chairs. From this, I got it into my head that a night in a real tent would be a lovely experience. To this day, I remember lying on a wafer-thin mattress on the ground as Samantha slept curled up next to me, bugs buzzing about our heads, and thinking, there’s got to be a better way.
Spin the clock ahead a couple of decades and there is: glamping.
A portmanteau of glamour + camping, glamping has been popular in Canada for several years now and offers lux lovers like me, and hard-core, hard-ground camping enthusiasts like Sam, the perfect compromise. I get many of the comforts of nice hotel room; she gets to be at one with nature in the great outdoors. Best of all, neither of us has to lug along all the furnishings and equipment from home -- with glamping, thanks to either the host locations or specialty glamping companies, usually everything is all set up and ready to go when you arrive.
Take, for example, our adventure late last summer. With nothing more than our carry-ons, Sam and I boarded a plane to go glamping in Nova Scotia where we could take in the high tides, towering cliffs, and beautiful beaches of the famed Bay of Fundy. We ripped around the province in a 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, its cabin so spacious we could have glamped in the vehicle. But happily, when we arrived at Fundy Tide Campground in Advocate Harbour, thanks to a local company, East Coast Glamping, a large bell tent was all set up for us and everything including beds, linens, lanterns, chairs, rugs and even mugs were provided. No fussing and fighting over tent set-up, no forgetting warm socks, or worse, the corkscrew. And although we were surrounded by nature and outfitted to cook on site, because we were relatively close to civilization, we could just jump in our SUV and head out for a local meal. Nothing says glamping like chowing down on a sumptuous lobster boil at a local restaurant such as Lighthouse on Cape D'or as we did, and then, a few hours later, back at the tent, roasting s’mores huddled around the glampfire.
Across the continent, and indeed around the world, glamping accommodation options abound. Glampinghub.com lists a slue of different types from tents and treehouses to yurts, cabins and caves. Interesting, a few years ago, Parks Canada introduced the oTENTik, a cross between a cabin and a tent, at some locations across the country. In recent years, it has been testing new accommodations at select sites including the Double Tent, a interior tent with a bed inside of a bug-proof exterior tent equipped a table and chairs; the Micro-Cube, a small wood structure with glass windows and furnishings; the Cocoon Tree Bed, a spherical canvas accommodation suspended in the trees; and the Goutte d’O, a structure resembling a rain-drop with a sofa bed on the main level and a hammock suspended above.
So what's the good news for Canadian campers and glampers who want to travel together? There's no need to choose either hard earth or super luxe -- with so many different types of accommodations available, like Samantha and I, you're sure to find the middle ground.
Rebecca and Samantha were guests of Chevrolet Canada but the opinions and creative expressed are completely their own.