Roasting hot dogs in the fire, eating too many s’mores, zipping yourself into a cozy sleeping bag…the authentic camping experience is something that Canadians often take for granted. This past weekend, we joined our friends at Parks Canada to share the experience with a group of new Canadian first-time campers.
Jasper National Park’s annual ‘Learn to Camp’ event offers all the usual elements of a weekend spent in the great outdoors of the Canadian Rockies. The participants, however, are not your average campers. The 50 new residents who attended this year are newcomers who now call the Edmonton area home and have been in Canada less than two years. Hailing from countries including Colombia, Somalia and Ethiopia; many of the newcomers have a refugee background. For some, the tents they have slept in in the past were in refugee camps. Most could never have imagined participating in a camping trip in Jasper National Park and they threw themselves into the weekend with excitement and enthusiasm.
A highlight of the weekend for the participants was a visit to the iconic Columbia Icefield with Glacier Adventure tour onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier. For the campers who had never seen snow before they came to Canada, the opportunity to stand on ancient ice as thick as the Eiffel Tower is tall was a breathtaking experience! Our staff were delighted to watch the reactions of the participants as they posed with the massive Ice Explorer vehicles and drank ice-cold glacier water.
Other event partners, including Mountain Equipment Co-op and Alberta Junior Forest Wardens, joined the group for an action-packed weekend of camping in Jasper National Park. Whether you call the Canadian Rockies home for a week, a few months or for life, we know it can be daunting planning your first trip to this wild and wonderful region. We hope to see the new Canadians out exploring their backyard again soon! To get ready for your own adventure, check out our travel tips