Girls Gone Camping – Are you a “Tentress”?

By Pamela HamelJanuary 21, 2016

Girls gone camping as the sign says…. It’s not just a guys’ thing. In fact, it was the Girl Guide movement that spurred this bond between girls and nature.  The turn of the century movement quickly became popular in Canada because of the new opportunities, experiences, and sense of community opening up to young girls and women. In 1912, the first group to hold a camping trip in Canada were Guides and Guiders from the 1st Toronto Company.

Girls Gone Camping

Well, we’ve come a long way over the last century. Girls born in the Millennial era are leading the pack around the campfires and as shoppers in the camping gear section. In fact, so popular, I’ve decided we need a new name for this generation—from here on out I am referring to you as “Tentresses”.  Here is my definition: a tentress is a young lady who starts planning her next backwoods adventure before the current one has ended;  she hikes, forages, paddles, swims, and swats with class while she sizzles her catch.

Our camping season in Northeastern Ontario can be a short one and avid campers know the cycle of these adventures—with the May 24 weekend when nature opens her gates of summer. It’s purely Canadian to break out from under winter’s veil and slip away for few days of enchantment at a camp site, cottage, or trailer park. As every tentress knows, there’s something supernatural about the May-Run or May 24—it’s the inaugural spring holiday weekend when you take that first plunge (after long debates) into nearly frozen water, rising to the surface with a screeching AAAHH!

Jumping into the cold waters of spring is a rite of passage. I believe it somehow cleanses your karma—if it was easy, like all grand achievements in life, it wouldn’t be worth the reward. And there are plenty of rewards in camping.  The spring run is host to a whole slew of activities you’ve been yearning for all winter, it’s time to unite with friends and celebrate around the campfire with a few chosen bevies.  It’s time to rejuvenate—a spring fling with nature, where literally the expression “take a hike” is reborn and embraced! Go ahead let your hair down and let the good times roll with a camping trip to the backwoods of Northeastern Ontario.

stack on dock

It all sounds so romantic doesn’t it? But then you remember the bite of the black fly and that the weather can be a little unpredictable, too. Still, I can honestly say that I don’t know a tentress who has ever fallen on her sword for fear of the weather or a few nasty stings. Luckily we gals know how to pack and stock up on the essential bug guards—bug spray, bug oil, mosquito pics and coils, knee high socks tied with colourful elastic bands to prevent those ravished ankle attacks! Take prevention—there’s no award or flattery in bug bleeding ankles or necessity to show off your weekend wounds come Tuesday morning when we head back to work.

Cookin’ Camp-style

Eating over the camping weekend is an endeavour of creativity. As I have come to discover, Millennials are the foodie generation; lovers of the s’mores. Heck, when I was a kid our campfire creativity didn’t expand past the marshmallow. Like I said, camping has come a long way.

And so has the tentress’ palette for worldly flavours, an ethical embrace for food sourcing, street food savvy paired with a conscience for nutritious eating. Gone are the days of beans and wieners on the camp stove! When packing the weekend cooler, they’ve got ingredients for fish tacos, growlers of Stack Brewing Co.’s Valley Girl,  spirits like Loon Vodka, and Thornloe Cheese curds and cheddar for campfire poutine and gourmet grilled cheese. They’ll also be packing fair trade coffee for a french press lake side morning wake-up.

egg crate

Millennials of both genders are interested in food sourcing, and this brings me to the act of foraging, whether it be for fiddleheads, tea leaves, blueberries, or mushrooms, foraging makes for a popular camping activity.  Be sure to pack “A Field Guide to Wild Edible Plants”. Here’s a cool tip on what to include in your cooler, besides flatbreads (because no worries on them getting squashed)—the essentials for your Saturday morning omelet that includes a few mini potatoes, broccoli, onion, mushrooms, all neatly packed with your egg carton.

Tentresses are Paddlers too!

Northeastern Ontario is ripe for picking up a new love for paddling too. Gone are the days of heavy birch bark canoes. We’re in an age of high tech, lightweight kayaks and canoes that’ll take you swiftly across lakes and downstream on white water. BIG Northeastern Ontario is a playground for paddlers!

When you think about it, the region features stunning Killarney Provincial Park; includes the historic French River and Mattawa areas—prime paddling areas; the pristine Lake Temagami-Smoothwater wilderness; and many of the dynamic rivers at the height of the land flowing in two different directions—northwards towards James Bay, and south to the Great Lakes. Where else is there so much diversity? The region is a paddling haven— a natural choice for exploring newly acquired paddling skills.

If you can’t get away for a weekend of camping maybe it’s a day hike to a majestic water attraction. Northeastern Ontario’s adventure correspondent Caitlin Carpenter has a round-up of the region’s impressive must-visit waterfalls.

One final note, all my tentress friends, I am encouraging you to get connected with nature and bring out your inner spirit. But please be careful ladies—we all know what can happen while under the influence of a few token spiritual beverages! Make sure to drink responsibly.

Be safe, get active, share your pics and stories with us on social media! # neontario #tentressNE

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