Learn-to Camp – Parks Canada Agency (Canada)

Learn-to Camp is helping us build a community of stewards to help foster an appreciation for nature among Canadians of all ages and allow them to connect with nature.

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The Goal

Learn-to Camp helps new Canadians, urbanites and families with young children to overcome barriers to planning and enjoying outdoor activities, especially in Canada’s special heritage places

In the first part of the 21st Century, Canada was seeing dramatic demographic changes including increased urbanization (more and more families living further away from nature leading to a disconnect with nature) and increased immigration (higher numbers of new Canadians with different needs and attitudes towards nature and camping). These factors were impacting visitation to Parks Canada places. Research suggested that families with young children and new Canadians face many barriers to visiting and camping in Canada’s outdoors, including a lack of awareness of opportunities, lack of access, equipment and knowledge (among others). Parks Canada needed to respond to these trends in order to stay relevant to Canadians. In response, the Learn-to Camp initiative was developed to help increase these audiences’ knowledge and ability to plan and enjoy a Canadian camping experience while introducing them to the experiences available to them when visiting Parks Canada locations.



The Solution

Learn-to Camp offers participants the opportunity to learn new skills and build confidence that will help them plan and enjoy a Canadian camping experience. 

Through the program, participants learn practical skills like how to set up a tent, use a camp stove and light a campfire as well as important safety skills including wildlife safety, fire safety and water safety. Participants also have the opportunity to learn about the rich natural and cultural heritage of the site through interpretive programming and activities. When participants register for their Learn-to Camp experience, Parks Canada provides camping equipment (this includes at minimum a tent and sleeping pads), food (dinner, breakfast and snacks), activities, workshops and any other equipment for activities they will be doing. Participants are asked to bring sleeping bags and personal effects. In addition, a special section of the Parks Canada website was created for new campers. It offers basic camping information on equipment and clothing, information on how to plan a camping trip and a checklist to help participants pack correctly. It also offers several sections in five additional languages. A free Smartphone app offers the above information in the palm of your hand as well as video workshops and actual camping tips from staff working in parks across the country.



The Results

By now, close to 10 000 participants have been exposed to Learn-to Camp programming delivered at over 30 Parks Canada location from coast to coast! Our research shows us that the program is reaching

  • Urban apartment dwellers

  • Mid to lower income households

  •  New Canadians

The Learn-to Camp participant is, on average, the opposite of Parks Canada’s overall visitation pattern meaning that the program is successfully attracting new visitors from urban areas.



Insider Tip

  • Partners are key! In places where resources are limited, we work closely with partners/volunteers to help in the delivery of Learn-to Camp programming. Our partners have allowed us to add more varied and complex activities.  MEC, one of Canada’s leading retailer of outdoor gear, has been our national partner since the program’s inception in 2011.

  • Keep it varied!  Learn-to Camp not only introduces Canadians to camping, but to Parks Canada and the amazing programs available. Offering existing onsite programming and mixing in interpretive activities on various topics rounds out our Learn-to Camp programming and provides a good mixture of fun and learning. This is seen in our comments cards as participants often mention both camping workshops and non-camping related activities as their favourites during the event.





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