Every summer, Ranch Ehrlo Society staff take our youth to various camps through our therapeutic camping program. Camps such as the fly-in ones at Norbert and Dreyer Lake, in remote northern Saskatchewan. These aren’t just normal camping trips – with the exception of satellite phones and regular check-ins, the camping experience involves being essentially isolated from everyone and everything for two to three weeks at a time. The idea of it can sound scary, but for many of our youth, the camping trips are things they remember many years down the road.
Do you think you could handle camping in the wilderness away from civilization? If you’re up to the challenge, we’ve compiled a list of a few things that all our staff learn and that you may find helpful:
- Bears have a great sense of smell and don’t care that your food is marked for human consumption. You can write ‘don’t touch this bear’ on everything you own, but if a bear catches a whiff and thinks it smells tasty, they will take it and they will eat it. How can you prevent bears from ransacking your campsite then?
- Burn all of your garbage.
- If you’re using a cold storage unit (we have one for items like meat and vegetables that we bring up with us) make sure it’s sealed properly. If it’s not – the bear will get in, destroy it, and eat all your food to boot.
- Repeat – burn all of your garbage. Especially food-related stuff, but really – just burn it all.
- Don’t over-pack. You might be tempted to take everything you own, because who knows what the weather will be like – but honestly. Just take the basics: a few shirts, a sweater, one pair of jeans, a few pairs of sweats, a swimsuit and a hat. You can wash clothes in the lake and hang them to dry.
- Don’t over-pack food either. You can catch fish, and if you’re really talented, perhaps snare a rabbit or two for eating. But again – burn all the garbage. If you’re filleting fish, take the guts to the middle of the lake to throw them out or – you guessed it – bears!
- Water is important, so bring some bottled but you can purify lake water with the right equipment over a fire.
- Be prepared for an emergency.
- Take a first aid kit – one that can stay at your campsite, and a smaller one to take with you if you decide to venture out on a hike or a canoe trip.
- Bring other things that could be useful in an emergency as well – a small knife, some parachute cord or strong rope, a signalling device in case you get lost (flares and matches, or even a flashlight).
- Learn how to use a compass. It can be very disorienting to be surrounded by a bunch of trees that look identical. It will be important to know what direction your campsite is in if you get lost.
Our biggest concern (besides the safety of our youth and staff, of course) is having fun! Remember that a little rain won’t hurt you – if there’s a drizzle, you can still do outside activities like canoeing or fishing. (Be smart about it, though – if there’s a thunderstorm, especially with lightning, seek shelter.)