Vernon area rich with camping options

Vernon area rich with camping options

The annual Camp Saint Volodymyr runs during the second week of August.

Lucy Wyndham

Special to The Morning Star

With the schools in Vernon closed for the summer, a lot of parents are looking for ways to keep the children entertained during their break, while also undoubtedly counting down the days to the second annual Kelowna Comic Con to be held in September.

While the city offers a lot of activities for kids like the annual Camp Saint Volodymyr that runs during the second week of August, residents might want to have a camping trip of your own with the family beforehand.

A few guidelines coupled with the great campsite option situated in and around Vernon allow for everyone, including first-time campers, an easy and less stressful trip.

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Guidelines include:

1. Keep it short and sweet: When you take the kids camping for the first time, aim to keep it fairly short — one or two nights at most. This is more than enough time to determine whether your family is, in fact, cut out for outdoor adventures that entail camping. Try to visit a campsite close to home so that you can easily pack up and return if things go terribly awry. Don’t be too quick to give up though as even the most ardent of city-slicker kids often end up enjoying a camping trip more than even the most seasoned outdoorsman. If all goes well during your short trip you can go ahead and plan a longer one for next time, perhaps even visiting more than one location during the summer vacation.

2. Pack some added entertainment: As much as you would like to believe that your children will take to the great outdoors like a fish to water, you might end up being terribly mistaken. While your children will most definitely spend some time outside, exploring the area and playing with dirt, water, and bugs, there will also be times when they will prefer to play ‘indoors,’ especially during inclement weather. Pack a number of games and toys, steering clear of any electronics. Colouring books and crayons, water guns, balls, magnifying glasses and board games will keep the children (and some adults) occupied for hours at a time. Don’t forget to pack a camera that the older children can use as well. They might just take a photo worth submitting to the BC SPCA Wildlife-in-Focus photography contest that runs till Sept. 15 this year and which is open to children over the age of 14. If you are feeling especially industrious, you can bring along an extra tent to use as a separate play area.

3. Where to go camping with the family in Vernon: The Vernon area has several camping areas that are ideal for that first camping area with the family. While some are better suited to experienced, adult campers there are a number of beautiful sites that are perfect for the whole family.

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Some options close to home

The immensely-popular Ellison Provincial Park is especially beautiful this time of year and is located a mere 16km from Vernon. It’s considered a great place for first-time camping adventures with kids. Nestled on the north-eastern shore of Lake Okanagan, the park offers a number of amenities including flush and pit toilets, drinkable water, fire pits and shower facilities. Apart from easy-to-navigate hiking and biking trails, the park also offers a variety of facilities including a playground for the kids to run around in, 3 beaches, and 2 beautiful bays boasting more than 50 picnic tables. The park offers 21 sites that are accessible by vehicle and is open from April- October, making it the perfect destination for a summer holiday camping trip for the entire family.

Kekuli Bay Provincial Park is a beautiful lake-side park that is not only wheelchair friendly but is also situated only 11 km from Vernon. Fast becoming one of the most sought-after destinations in the region, Kekuli is ideal for first-time family campers offering a huge playground and beach as well as basic amenities including toilet and shower facilities, clean drinking water, fire pits and a boat launch. The playground is equipped with a multi-level jungle gym and is surrounded by lush grass which is ideal for playing with a ball or a game of tag. Kekuli is especially busy during the last two weeks of summer break so you might want to book in advance to secure a spot.