Family guide to camping in a crisis

child-drawn image of a family camping

Communications + Marketing staffer Erin King took her family on a rainy camping trip this weekend. She’s put together some tongue-in-cheek tips for family camping during COVID-19.

Find a spot

I’m going to level with you… booking a site isn’t going to be easy.

This year it seems that billions of other BC residents have the same idea and the reservation system might be a little overwhelmed. But it’s not impossible! You can only book an arrival date within two months of the current date. Check out the reservation rules and site availability.

I admit that I did not have any luck booking a site. But my sister did! So be nice to the siblings in your ‘COVID bubble’. They just might offer to share a campsite with you.


Packing today isn’t all that different from packing before the pandemic. Remember to bring buckets of hand sanitizer.

Make sure you bring sunscreen. Remind your daughter to pack her bathing suit so you don’t have to stop and buy a new one in Duncan… AGAIN. Your future self will smile at your naïve optimism of packing bathing suits and sunscreen at all because of the weather. You are not yet your future self.


Do your best not to share your out-of-town germs by limiting your stops between home and the campground. So when your daughter needs to pee two minutes after you hit the road, turn around and take her back to pee at home. But when your son needs to pee five minutes after that… make him hold it or pee on the side of the road because you’re not stopping again for christ’s sake.

Try to stick to drive-thrus if you need to stop for food. Better yet… pack elaborate meals to eat in the car. When no one eats your lovingly packed meals because they’d rather be hangry till they get to the campsite, eat the food yourself so that your mouth is full and you can’t yell at your family.

At the campground

Okay a few things are a little different here. The gatehouse has plexiglass installed to protect the gatekeeper. But the gatekeeper is as helpful as she is every year. Also very patient as you pepper her with questions so you can write a blog post about this later. You’ll learn:

  • The playground and pump track are both closed (or they were at the time of writing – this might change throughout the summer so be sure to call ahead if this is an issue for you).
  • Each site, even double sites, are limited to 8 guests total. You can have others visit you during the day, but the overnight guest limit is 8.
  • Washrooms, showers and outhouses are still open. There are signs up to remind you to remain physically distant and to sanitize your hands.

But lots of things are the same!

The moment you get out of the car your kids will get on their bikes and disappear. Don’t worry… they’ll probably return when they’re hungry.

Within 10 minutes of arriving your site will look like a small tornado has landed. You’ll wonder how all of this stuff ever fit in the car. You’ll worry it may never fit back in. Push that thought to the back of your head and finish setting up camp.

Campfires, hot dogs, smores and lukewarm beer are still all excellent ways to end the day.

Bad weather

When it starts pouring at 4:00 p.m. on your second day, thank your former self for remembering the rain gear and suit everybody up.

At 6:15 your kids might get so uncomfortably wet that they’ll ask to go to bed. Go with them because this is awful. When they ask to get back out of the tent at 8:00 when the rain has stopped, go with them because the tent is way too cold for any sane person to remain. Huddle by the fire and dry off.

Travel home

Packing up the campsite will seem like an insurmountable task. It might actually be insurmountable. You have to mount it anyway. Give yourself lots of time. You’ll want to smugly look on from a packed car as your neighbours struggle to pack theirs. That will punish them for the car alarm they set off three times last night just as you were drifting off to sleep.

If you’re like this family, you might be lucky enough to discover the beautiful Cowichan River on your way home. You might sit in the sunshine on its banks while your son reads and your daughter and partner explore the rushing blue. You’ll consider how lucky you are to live in a place with so many amazing outdoor adventures just outside city limits.


In what will feel like many hours later, once you’re finished unpacking and bathing, you’ll think about how that trip was mostly excellent. You’ll head to your computer to try to find your next reservation.

Good luck! And happy adventuring!

Bonus: Virtual camping experience

For those of you who can’t get to the campground, I’ve put together a very brief clip of what the rain felt like at our site. Plus a cameo from my brother-in-law at the end to demonstrate just how drenched we all were.

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4 Responses

  1. Michelle says:

    I feel like I have been on this camping trip a number of times! Thank you for the laugh.

  2. Jody Paterson says:

    Love this! Thanks for reminding me why I’ve made 2020 “The Year I Learn How To Hang A Great Tarp.”

  3. Tracy says:

    That was really funny and so incredibly true!

  4. Madison says:

    You had me laughing out loud with this line:
    “When no one eats your lovingly packed meals because they’d rather be hangry till they get to the campsite, eat the food yourself so that your mouth is full and you can’t yell at your family.”.

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