The night stars illuminates a tent, placed on a bolder in a forest.

Quetico Provincial Park | Destination Ontario

Learn to Camp programs in Ontario

The night stars illuminates a tent, placed on a bolder in a forest.

Quetico Provincial Park | Destination Ontario

Although it may seem like every Canadian should be born with the innate knowledge of how to camp, outdoor skills are learned just like everything else. If you've never tried it, it can be daunting to try to figure out where to go, what equipment you'll need and how to make it work. 

Ontario’s Learn to Camp programs and Introduction to Backcountry Canoe or Kayak and Camping trips can teach you all the camping basics.

Frontcountry camping and backcountry camping

There are two main types of tent camping trips: frontcountry and backcountry. Each type requires certain skills, knowledge and equipment for fun, safe and stress-free vacations.

Frontcountry camping

Once you've learned the basic skills, frontcountry camping—often called car camping—is the easiest option for beginners who want to camp on their own.

Campsites are located in well-established full-service campgrounds that offer washroom facilities, showers and more. You can drive to your campsite, so you'll be able to store your food and gear in your vehicle. Your campsite will have a cleared area where you can set up your tent, a firepit and a picnic table. Other campsites and campground staff will be nearby.

Backcountry camping

Backcountry camping requires more skills and knowledge. Campsites are only accessible by backpacking, canoeing or kayaking. This means you'll need to transport all your food and gear with you. You'll also need the additional skills of route planning, paddling and portaging, meal planning and cooking, map reading, packing, equipment set-up, wilderness first aid and more.

Leave no trace

No matter what type of camping you do, you will have an impact on the natural area you're visiting. You can lessen your impact by practicing the seven principles of Leave No Trace:

  1. plan and prepare

  2. travel and camp on durable surfaces

  3. dispose of waste properly

  4. leave what you find

  5. minimize campfire impacts

  6. respect wildlife

  7. follow camping etiquette

Frontcountry Learn to Camp programs in Ontario

Don't miss out on limited spots to book a free 30-minute Learn to Camp workshop with Ontario Park Ambassadors at participating Ontario Parks campsites in a group or one-on-one format (equipment not included).

Online workshops with Park Ambassadors are also available to anyone who wants to learn how to camp. Choose the type of camping skill you would like to learn, such as:

  • how to cook while camping

  • how to build a campfire

  • how to set up a campsite

  • what to know about visiting a provincial park

  • animals at provincial parks and how to discourage them from visiting your campsite

Check out the Online Camping Resources to find lots of information on everything from trip planning to how to build a campfire.

Parks Canada Learn to Camp overnight experiences introduce people to the basics of camping in Canada at safe and fun locations, usually in National Parks or at National Historic Sites. You'll learn camping skills like how to set up a tent, light a campfire and cook outdoors. 

Parks Canada also offers Learn to Camp daytime workshops and activities in Toronto and Ottawa. 

See how-to videos including how to set up a tent, set up a tarp, start a campfire and pack a cooler.

Paddle Canada offers Canada’s only national camping skills program that teaches paddlers how to safely and efficiently plan, organize and execute camping trips in both front- and backcountry settings. 

Find a certified Camping Skills instructor near you.

Fully guided camping guides and operators

You can also learn the ropes of camping in Ontario on a fully guided and outfitted camping excursion.

Based in Toronto, Lake Fever Wilderness offers full-service, group camping excursions for beginners that include everything from gear and transportation to meals, park fees, guided hikes and activities.

Guided backcountry canoe or kayak camping trips

A backcountry canoe or kayak camping trip is the ultimate escape for a weekend or getaway. If you're looking for solitude and want to get away from the crowds, an adventure into the wilderness is for you. 

Wilderness paddling and camping trips require skill and knowledge. If you're a first-timer, we recommend you take a guided trip to gain valuable skills and knowledge that will keep you safe and make your trip enjoyable. No previous experience is necessary as these trips are designed to help you learn to camp in the wilderness.

With the help of your knowledgeable guide, you’ll develop paddling, map-reading, weather-watching, portaging and backcountry camping skills. Plus, you’ll enjoy hassle-free planning.

Ultra-light canoeing/kayaking and camping equipment is supplied as well as delicious backcountry meals. Just book and go. Here are some of our favourites.

Introduction to canoe camping trips

Introduction to sea kayak camping trips

Do-it-yourself backcountry canoe or kayak camping trips

Once you get a taste of backcountry tripping, we’re sure you will want to do more.

To improve your camping and paddling skills, Paddle Canada offers a variety of "Learn To" programs. These courses are designed to help you progress from basic to advanced adventurer status. They're offered in a variety of paddling centres and communities throughout Ontario. 

Find a course near you.

Wilderness first aid courses and programs  

Whether you're going front- or backcountry camping, it’s important to have some basic First Aid knowledge. The farther you travel into the wilderness, the more important these skills become as help may be hours or days away.

As you advance into backcountry tripping, you should consider taking an outdoor-based First Aid course. These courses are based on the principals of wilderness care and First Aid with a practical, hands-on approach to training.

Some courses include:

If you’ve ever wanted to try camping but had no idea where to start, a Learn to Camp program or an introduction to backcountry canoe or kayak camping trip is for you.

Last updated: October 13, 2023

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