By Anna Karpinski
Luxury hotels with soothing spas and fine dinning are great but sometimes the best way to unwind is to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.
Camping is almost a national sport around here during the summer months. Every Canadian has childhood memories of camping blunders and adventures which they fondly share around bonfires. This weekend, my sister Vera and I are taking my daughter Ella and her friend Anna to Campbell's Cove Campground to help build their arsenal of camping stories.
Campbell's Cove is a tidy campground situated on the north-eastern tip of the Island. The setting is idyllic. There are spots for trailers and tents and best of all, they have small cottages for people like myself, who never quite got the knack of sleeping in a tent.
Our cottage is equipped with two bunk beds. The girls excitedly grab the top bunks by tossing their blankets on the mattresses and then run down to the beach leaving us to set up camp. Vera and I carry the cooler of food from the car to the picnic table. We grab cold drinks and survey the area. Dozens of children of all ages are playing hide-and-seek through out the grounds. A boy of about seven, sneaks around our cottage and signals for us to be quiet so we don't reveal his whereabouts. Ella and Anna are laughing and doing cartwheels along the water. It's so great to see kids playing outside, with no hand-held devices.
We walk down to the beach to join the girls. On the way we see a sign pointing towards the ocean which reads 'stairway to heaven' and take a moment to appreciate the spectacular view that this campground offers. The blue of the sea and sky blend into the horizon and its impossible to see where the water ends and the sky begins. It is an endless dome of heavenly light blue. We walk along the shore letting the waves cool our feet.
Before dinner time, Charles, the owner, brings fire wood over to our campsite in a wheelbarrow.
“I haven't started a fire in years,” I say. “That's usually my husband's job.”
“It's like riding a bike. You never forget,” Charles says. “If you have any trouble, let me know and I'll bring over the torch,” he adds with a smile.
I kindle the fire with crumbled newspapers and small sticks and slowly add in the thicker pieces of wood. Within 15 minutes I am proud to have created a roaring fire. I put the skillet on a grate over the flames cowboy style and fry up sausages. The smell pulls the girls back to the campsite.
Food always tastes better when cooked and eaten outside under an open sky. For desert we roast s'mores, a traditional campfire snack. It was created by girl scouts in America years ago and quickly gained popularity though out Canada as well. You lightly roast a marshmallow on a stick until it is browned on the outside and tender on the inside. You place it between two graham cookies with a thin piece of chocolate and squish it together. The hot sticky marshmallow melts the chocolate and binds the sandwich together. The crispy cookie, melted smooth chocolate and fire roasted gooey marshmallow is a perfect mix of taste and texture – a little piece of heaven right there.
When the sun goes down I continue to stock the fire and we listen to music float in from our neighbours campsite. A family with four young children sit around their bonfire. The father strums a guitar while the mother and children sing along. Slowly we see all the fires go out one by one throughout the campsite. The stars pop out and a deep silence settles in. We tuck into our beds and fall asleep to the sound of waves gently lapping out on the shore.