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Thursday, January 26, 2012

A travel "bucket list" for kids before they're 15

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 21/12

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Should young kids have a so-called vacation “bucket list?”
   Ontario Parks thinks so and has come up with a “suggested list of 15 things to do with your kids before they turn 15.”
   “Parents interested in the outdoors and family camping have a short window of time before kids’ seasonal jobs and other interests can change family holiday time,” said publicist Lori Waldbrook.
   She offers the following as a starter list:

   Get camping, swimming, fishing . . .
Things to do before they’re 15 at Ontario Parks includes teaching kids how to camp. (Photo – Ontario Parks)

     - Learn to camp
   Parks offer sessions teaching basic camping skills as how to pitch a tent, build a campfire and cook on a camp stove. Most equipment is provided by corporate partners.
   -  Swim a northern Ontario lake
   On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than a cool northern Ontario lake for swimming.
   The Lifejacket Lending Program at some 60 parks has jackets available for use at no charge (with a refundable deposit).
   - Learn to fish
   Take up the sport of fishing through the Tackle Share program sponsored by corporate sponsors that loans fishing rods and tackle to families.
   - Stay in a yurt
An alternative to a canvas tent is staying in a heated yurt such as this one at Algonquin Park. (Photo – Ontario Parks)
   Kids groove on yurts – semi-permanent, canvas-covered structures mounted on a wooden deck above ground.
   Ideal in the winter as they have electric or propane heating and lighting, two sets of bunk beds, tables, chairs and plywood floors. There are yurts at 11 parks with more being added this year.
   -Explore the night sky
   Killarney Provincial Park has a new observatory with a powerful telescope to see the stars like never before.
   Friends of Killarney Park will hold a Winter Activity Weekend on Feb. 18 and 19, offering visitors a chance to peer through the telescope and do some stargazing.

   Dogsled, skate, winter tube . . .
   - Try dogsledding
   Learn how to dog sled on designated trails in Ontario Parks including Algonquin.
   Local outfitters teach the skills and cover the cost of the required park permit in their fees.
   - Skate through the woods at night
   Every winter at MacGregor Provincial Park on Lake Huron, visitors can skate at night on a lighted 400-metre path and stay overnight in a heated yurt.
   - Go winter tubing
Hang on while tubing at Arrowhead Provincial Park. (Photo – Ontario Parks)
   Arrowhead Provincial Park has a “wickedly fun hill” for tubing. Tubes are supplied at no charge with a park day-use permit.
   - Try paddleboarding
   The newest and hottest activity on water is stand-up paddleboarding, with lessons given at Craigleith Provincial Park last summer. More outfitters plan to offer the service at other parks this year.
   - Join a park wolf howl
   Howl at the moon and listen to hear if the wolf pack responds.
   In Algonquin, wolf howls led by park staff are on Thursday nights in August while Bonnechere also has a howling session that month.
   Hike, stay over, paddle and kayak . . .
   - Hike Lake Superior’s Coastal Hiking Trail
   Take a family hike at Ontario Parks including this scenic trail at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on Lake Superior. (Photo – Ontario Parks)
   Seasoned family hikers face a “real challenge” on all or part of this 65-kilometre trail.
   Backcountry campsites are located along the trail and five to seven days are needed to do it all between May and October.
   - Stay in a park ranger cabin
   Algonquin Park’s interior is dotted with ranger cabins built in the early-to mid-1900s.
   Fourteen of these cabins formerly used by park rangers are available for rent.
   Five are accessible by car while the others can be reached in a day or two by canoe.
   - Paddle or kayak to your camp site
   “Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes from an interior canoe or kayak camping trip complete with a portage or two,” Waldbrook said.
   Plan an interior camping trip as more than 75 parks offer canoe rentals and 43 have kayak rentals.
   - Trick or treat
   Halloween is a family tradition at many parks on Lake Huron and Lake Erie.
   Families decorate campsites and kids dress up to trick or treat. Activities include learning more about creatures often associated with the occasion.
   - Play golf
   Go golfing and camping at the same time at Ontario Parks’ golf course at Turkey Point on Lake Erie.
   Adult and children’s golf clubs are available for rent and green fees are “reasonable” at the nine-hole course.

   If you go:
   Ontario Parks invites readers to add additional items and learn more about the 15 on the list at the blog: www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2359
   More info: www.ontarioparks.com; 1-800-ONTARIO


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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