The Best Tents and Sibbald Point Provincial Park

sign of sibbald point provincial park with two campers who are camping at sibbald point
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sign of sibbald point provincial park with two campers who are camping at sibbald point
Tim and Thomas at Sibbald Point Provincial Park

This is the transcript from our first ever podcast episode.

Pamela: Good day, eh!  We’re Pamela and Tim and we’re from SuperGoodCamping.com.  We just wanted to educate and inspire other people about camping. 

The Best Tents

Pamela: Today we thought we would talk about tents since that is a basic necessity if you are going to go camping. And I thought I would ask Tim to pick his brain about all of the features that you might be looking for in a tent.  So, Tim when you are looking for a tent, what kind of qualities might someone be looking for?  

Tim: Well, if you are car camping, you are looking for comfort and protection from the elements and space for all of your gear that isn’t going to stay in the car.  So, for instance, we just upgraded one of our car camping tents.  And I say one of our tents because we have quite a few tents.  

Pamela: We have a tent problem.  

Tim: Well, I have a tent problem.  We bought a Eureka Kohana 4.  It’s a 4 person tent.  And some of the specific reasons that I bought that particular model were one that it was on sale at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Pamela: That’s always good. 

Tim: Always like a sale. 

Pamela: On sale is always good. 

Tim: It’s taller than a lot of other 4-person tents, dome-style tents.  And I’m not a spring chicken anymore and I don’t like to try to get dressed while I’m on my knees.  This one, you can’t quite stand up in, but it makes life a little bit easier to get around inside the tent.  

Pamela: Durability?  Do you know anything about durability?  

Tim: Eureka and Coleman are the two most talked-about tents, favoured tents perhaps.  I follow quite a number of Facebook camping groups. 

Pamela: We have a camping group problem as well.  

Tim: I have a lot of camping-related problems. And I would say as far as recommendations go, Eureka and Coleman are the two most recommended.  This is our first Eureka tent. I have had a number of Coleman tents that have taken a boatload of abuse and have survived, quite surprisingly.  I’m looking forward to trying this one out.  It’s got a very interesting design for the pole system, for the fly in particular.  I’m sure most people know what a dome tent is.  The description covers it. 

Pamela: It’s self-explanatory.  

Tim: The fly that goes over the top of it to keep rain, or if you are winter camping, snow I suppose, also uses a similar style of poles, where they make an “x”.  This one actually does more of, not a square, but a ring around the outside of it.  So in effect, it makes an awning area so you can stand inside without actually being in the tent, which I thought was quite cool.  A lot of times once you undo the zipper, you’re getting soaked by the rain. This one you could hide out a little bit.  Or you know, spend your time getting your boots on without having to take your boots into the tent with you.  

Pamela: We actually had the kids set it up in our living room last weekend.  And that seemed to go well, so it seems like it will be not too crazy difficult to set it up. Also, we wanted to make sure that we had all of the pieces of the tent that were intended to come with the tent when we received it.  

Tim: As opposed to waiting until our first camp in the summer and going “oh, poop!”.  

Pamela: So, we do have all of the pieces and it did get set up and it seems like it’s going to be fine.  

Tim: Pretty quick up and quick down. As a car camping tent, you don’t have to sweat the size or how small it packs down, or how much it weighs. This one actually was decently light. 

Car Camping at Sibbald Point

Pamela: We do a fair bit of car camping. We’ve been doing car camping for the past 10 years. Tim, and well, we have all endeavored to do some back-country camping.  We thought we would talk about car camping first just because it’s a bit more accessible for most people.  We also thought we would mention some of our adventures in car camping.  Some of the provincial parks that we have enjoyed. Some of the things that we liked about them, maybe some of the things that we didn’t like about them. So one of our first car camping trips was to Sibbald Point Provincial Park.  Which is located on Lake Simcoe which is kind of an interesting park because there is some history behind it.  It’s located near Sutton, Ontario.  It’s on the south shore of Lake Simcoe.  It’s about 70 km north of Toronto, so it’s easily accessible from Toronto. Sibbald Point has nice sandy beaches, and shaded campsites. Two of the major things is that it was owned by the Sibbald family during the 19th century.  The family home was purchased by Susan Sibbald in 1835.  The park was donated to the province.  Inside the park is a structure called Eidon Hall, which was named after the family estate which was in Scotland. Now it serves as a museum, so we quite enjoyed the Sibbald Memorial Museum.  And some of the activities that the kids did at the park. One of the things that we recalled is that the kids made tie-dyed t-shirts the first time that we went to Sibbald Point. Which was kind of cool, they made them with natural dyes and we just happened to have a couple of old grubby white t-shirts that fit the bill as far as using them to make tie-dyed t-shirts. Other things that we enjoyed:

Tim: The Park Rangers often run programs for kids to interact with stuff so that they get to learn about the particular park etc. but also environmental things which we’re both big fans of. They did a bottle cap collecting contest where everybody went around and picked up what seemed to be largely the clear or white plastic water bottle caps.  I can’t remember the exact numbers but it was a ridiculous number of caps that the kids picked up over the course of the several days that we were there. Saddening would be the right word.  It was great, it was a good way to get the park cleaned up and teach kids about “look at all the plastic around us”.  

Pamela: Yes, all the garbage that we as human beings generate.  It was great to have that cleaned up, for sure.  And the fact that we had hundreds of them, I think, and the person that won beat us.  

Tim: Yeah, it was something like 216 of them. Oh my God, and all of the kids were getting numbers that weren’t too far south of that.  So if there are all these kids picking up hundreds of caps, oh my goodness, there are thousands of them there.  That’s just nuts, yeah, that’s sad.  

Pamela: The other things that we enjoyed while there, they taught the kids some, sort of, pioneer games. So games that kids their age would have played in the 1800’s. We found ourselves a caterpillar friend that we dubbed “Mr. Fuzzy”.  We kept him alive and took him home with us, which you are not supposed to remove things from the park. We found out later that he was actually a “Mrs. Fuzzy” as he went on to have babies.  We actually encountered a gentleman that was walking around with a metal detector in one of the fields in the park. That was really interesting and fascinating for all of us, including the kids.  

Tim: It was cool, yeah!  

Pamela: He was there partly because of the history of the place. He felt that it might be a good place to find old coins and old paraphernalia.  It was quite interesting chatting with him and to watch his process.  Another time when our son Brandon and I went and camped overnight they did a haunted house in the visitor centre which was fun for us.  Anyway, the pros of it are that we enjoyed the activity programs for the kids for sure, it was close to home for us and Lake Simcoe is quite lovely.  The cons we felt were that it was a bit noisy and it was a bit crowded because of the fact that it is close to Toronto. Camping is about escaping from all that for us.  It’s more about being out in nature, more about being away from the hustle and the bustle and the noise. 

Tim: Yeah, very much so.  Being an hour or an hour and change from Toronto, it makes perfect sense that it would be busy. Through the week it wasn’t nearly as bad, but on the weekend, holy mackerel, there were a lot of people there.  It was just crazy!  I suppose in hindsight, had we realized that we probably would have planned things a bit differently.  But, as far as a park itself goes, I will give the Rangers two thumbs up every time.  Because they were fantastic and the program for the kids was amazing.  They were just super informative, super nice people considering the insanity that they must deal with all of the time.  There’s a little more wear and tear on the sites than some of the parks that we have been to. Again, the popularity of it and the closeness to Toronto, it’s not surprising.  Again, all things considered, it wasn’t that bad and it’s always nice to get away, period.  It’s better than being in town.  

Pamela: We choose the radio-free sections of the park typically because we feel that will give us more of the camping experience where we’re not subjected to other people’s radios and music.  So, that’s a little tip if you’re looking for a little more quiet and seclusion. Sometimes the radio-free sections of the parks are a little bit more quiet.  

Tim: Yeah, a little more subdued and I don’t have to listen to somebody’s poor taste in music.  

Pamela: Tim’s a bit of an audiophile too, so he has a particular taste in music and doesn’t bear fools lightly.  So that’s all I have to say, how about you Tim?  Any other tips about tents? 

Making Your Tent Last Longer

Tim: Ah, I suppose if you were inclined, if you were hoping to get your tent to last longer without issues like leaks and what-not, you know they’re made of nylon, right? In the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty delicate.  Picking up a footprint, which is essentially a heavy-duty fly, but it goes underneath the tent, is a good idea.  It’s slightly smaller than the size of your tent.  Because you often camp on places where there are small stones or a tree root poking up in the way, it’s way easier to replace your footprint, which goes under your tent, and is your first line of defense against those stones and stuff than it is to wake up in the middle of the night after a night of pouring rain and find that the water is running through a hole in the bottom of your tent into your sleeping bag. Outside of that, read the reviews, pick a good one. Go to a Canadian Tire and see which ones are the big sellers.  Go to a Mountain Equipment Co-op and talk to the sales staff.  In places like that, they know their business. 

Pamela: Also, as an aside, I’m Group Commissioner for the 69th Toronto Scout Group here in Toronto.  And we had been researching replacing some of our tents and one of the Scouters favoured the El Capitan by Eureka as well and he also recommended getting the footprint.  Eureka generally seems to be a good manufacturer and seasoned Scouters and seasoned campers seem to appreciate the Eureka quality.  

That’s it for us today.  We hope to be with you every Sunday, or so.  If you have any questions please feel free to email us.  Our email address is Hi@SuperGoodCamping.com, that’s hi at SuperGoodCamping dot com, or visit our website at www.SuperGoodCamping.com.  Reach out to us and we’d be happy to answer questions.  Thanks, have a great weekend! Bye!

Tim: Bye.

By Pamela Frank and Tim Good

*This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.

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