female campers

6 ways to deter eager campers

We all have those friends or family members who are curious about camping, and maybe even eager to go on a trip, but have little to no camping experience. What do you do if they choose you as their camping guide?

Since camping with people you love is the worst, we’ve got you covered. If you follow these six tips, you’ll have even your closest pals saying, “NEVER AGAIN” to camping before the first day is through.

1. Exploring a trail will have them hiking home in no time

Best way to shake a new camper? Take them hiking.

The vast number of trees, plants and animals they see will have them bored to tears and missing the high def and surround-sound of their TVs at home.

Two people on a trail surrounded by lush green flora, looking out on to a water body
Couple hiking on Oh-Saya-Wucka Trail , Kettle Lakes Provincial Park . Pretty dull

Plus, who wants to hear a woodpecker pecking away at a tree or see a deer leaping through the forest? And don’t get us started on those babbling brooks or soulful sunsets. Park it on a trail and they’ll be reversing home in no time.

2. A cannonball to sink it all

Check the weather and plan a trip when sunshine is in the forecast (this is important — sunny summer days are like being in the fiery depths of Mordor). Ensure your new-to-camping buddies have a bathing suit packed, sunscreen, and a towel (or two).

Bringing beach toys and outdoor games would be the icing on the cake of camping misery, so make sure to do that. Then, challenge the group to a cannonball contest.

5 people jumping off a dock into the water (shot from behind)
Jumping off the dock at Finlayson Point Provincial Park. This doesn’t look like fun at all

Your new camping friends will grudgingly leap off the dock into the cool, calm, sparkling, refreshing water. They’ll likely need to do this a few times to be certain, but we can almost guarantee that there will be no smiling, laughing or cheering through it all.

Little girl, with a floaty device around her waist, splashing in the lake and having a blast
Swimming on the beach at Wheatley Provincial Park. WAY too splashy

This game of cannonball will be a camping wrecking ball. And if you want a finishing move, start a splashing contest or a game of Marco Polo. This will surely be their undoing.

3. Listen to the rain

If the weather turns out to be wetter than expected, all the better. Encourage sleeping-in and lazily listening to the sound of rain pitter-pattering against the roof while reading a book — this can really drive people batty.

Four kids in a tent, looking out through the unzipped door
Just some kids pretending this tent is a fort at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Total bummer

Or you can try and bore them with the many activities that you can do from inside the tent or under a tarp. What about:

  • Playing  Go Fish
  • Having an art contest to see who can draw the silliest self-portrait
  • Making a sleeping bag castle and embarking on a quest to save the frog prince
10 campers in rain gear posing for the camera with big smiles
These guys are having a terrible time at Grundy Lake Provincial Park

The best part about rainy days is that you don’t need much more than pen and paper, a pack of cards, and a clever imagination to have a miserable time.

And, hey, if your campers seem to be having too much fun, why not venture out into the rain and challenge them to a puddle-jumping contest…BOR-ing!

4. Give them s’mores and they’ll never want s(ome)’more

Picture this: gooey, warm, fluffy marshmallows cozying up next to a thick slice of chocolate and slowly melting it…all sandwiched between two crisp graham crackers.


Feed these messy, sugary treats to any new camper and it will be enough to deter them from camping for life.

Woman eating a s'more on a campsite
Gross me out. S’mores at Sibbald Point Provincial Park

If you really want to make your new campers unhappy, you’ll want to try sophisticated s’mores. Sub out plain, ol’ regular chocolate for your favourite chocolate bar (Reese’s, Cookies and Cream, Mr. Big…). Gross, right? They’ll be saying “s’mores no more” in the blink of an eye.

5. Leave them wishing upon a star to never camp again

Most Ontario Parks have the misfortune of clear views of vast night skies. Follow these steps to ensure your friends are just really hating it:

  • Lie on the ground on a clear night
  • Look up at the sky
  • Take in the thousands of twinkling, bright stars
  • Marvel in awe at the universe

DISCLAIMER: We are not responsible for any heart-to-heart, meaning-of-life conversations that may ensue.

Black sky with stars and a silhouetted White Pine
Starry sky at Killbear Provincial Park (if you like this kind of thing)

6. When in doubt, delegate it out

Not up for the challenge of deterring new campers from camping? Delegate the task to us and we’ll help you out.

Ontario Parks runs a Learn to Camp program that is geared towards new campers and (you guessed it!) introducing them to camping. With a 94% program satisfaction rate, your friends are in good hands and through the program, will learn to camp on their own (they won’t need you!).

Kids goofing around on a campsite
Learn to Camp Program at Darlington Provincial Park

The program provides all the camping equipment to participants for their stay. (No packing? No prep? WHAT?! No fun — we know).

8 campers giving thumbs up with smiles at their campsite
Learn to Camp Program at Sibbald Point Provincial Park

Knowledgeable, friendly, smiling staff take participants through the camping basics, from pitching a tent to identifying plants and animals they might see, to the sounds they may hear at night.

Ontario Parks staff person demonstrating how to cook on a camp stove
Learn to Camp staff at Darlington Provincial Park

We even play games and provide groups with a tasty campfire treat — what nerve! Rumour has it that participants are routinely found crying (from our hilarious jokes), upside down frowning (aka smiling), and running away (from our teaching campsite to set up their equipment, now that they’re pros).

Camping is the actual best. Find out more about our Learn to Camp program today! Summer registrations have already begun!