The Camping Process and MacGregor Point Provincial Park

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picture of the sun setting over the lake while camping at MacGregor Point Provincial Park
Sunset over the lake

Pamela: Hello and good day, eh. My name is Pamela

Tim: and I’m Tim

Pamela: and we’re from 

We’re here because we want to educate and inspire other families to enjoy camping adventures such as we have.  Today we thought we would just chat about what a typical camping excursion looks like from start to finish. Tim is usually responsible for the packing part of the process since he’s good at Tetris’ing everything into a smallish car. So I’m going to turn it over to Tim to talk about how he loads and what the strategy is around that.

Tim: Well certainly for the strategy, Tetris is the right word. Be good at stacking things, making things go behind other things, fitting into tiny nooks and crannies, that sort of deal. We typically, for car camping, put things into large plastic bins so that they can be closed back up.  The more individual parts that you have, the messier your site is going to be.  You’re not going to be able to find things.  I typically put cooking things into one of the bins. But, bins also don’t fit well, necessarily.  We tend to have smaller vehicles, or rather Pamela does.  It can be a little difficult to put a bin into the trunk, but you can put it between two kids in the back seat.  Chairs are long and skinny so they get stacked in the trunk. I used to try to bin the sleeping bags, pillows, etc.  but I realized that they are much easier to deal with as an individual thing. I also do it in reverse order of what needs to get set up first.  So tent and tarps are generally the last things to go in. Sorry, food is the last thing to go in. But tent and tarps are second last and then working backward towards air mattresses, the pump for the air mattress, sleeping bags, that sort of thing.  I  usually do the Tetris the night before, given the opportunity.  Our camping gear will have been pulled probably the weekend before. All laid out on the table. We make sure we go through the checklist which we’ll provide at some point so that everything is ready to go. I really don’t want to spend until 11 o’clock the night before packing things in a car so we try to be as prepared as possible.  In theory, I pull the coolers out the night before.  I generally put one round of freezer packs or a bag of ice or whatever to get the cooler pre-chilled. Especially if they’re freezer packs, they’ll get left behind and then we’ll load ones that are still in the freezer into the coolers the next morning with the food.  It goes in the car and then away we go. We typically aim to go out the door at 9 a.m. It literally never happens!

Pamela: We expect to be maybe an hour later than we anticipate.  And then we’re on the road! We aim for campgrounds that are maybe 3 hours from Toronto.  So if we’re leaving around 10 a.m., we’ll get up to the neighborhood of where we want to be around 1 p.m., and we’ll often stop and get lunch.  And then, for Ontario Provincial Parks you can actually check into your site at 2 p.m.  If you’re lucky enough that somebody hasn’t camped there the night before.  They’re quite lenient about letting you in whenever your site is empty. So you can actually get to your site at 10 o’clock in the morning as long as nobody is there from the night before. 

Tim: Right, and you can actually check into the park itself any time during that day. If you want to go hang out at the beach or what-have-you, that’s totally fine. You don’t actually have to go to your site, especially if it is still occupied. They’ve got until 2 p.m. to get out, but you can hang out in the park.

Pamela: Right, you can use the park’s amenities the whole day the day that you are checking in and you can use it the whole day that you are leaving. So once we’re there, as Tim said the priority is to get the tent set up so that we have shelter and then we need to have sleeping things so we’ll get our air mattresses set up and our sleeping bags set up.  Our kitchen may not really get set up right away because we don’t need it until cooking dinner. 

Tim: Yeah, it will depend on how lunch played out, but often I get the children to start working on shelter and I will start usually putting up a tarp for our cooking area, whether it’s rain or sunshine, you still have to eat.  I prefer to not stand in the rain and barbeque.  We tend to barbeque or work off of a Coleman grill. Food is not the priority but you’re going to be there soon enough. So I tend to work towards the kitchen area. 

Pamela: We have a dining tent that we got a couple of years back too. That also needs to be set up, kind of like a tent gets set up.

Tim: I don’t cook in the dining tent, at least I try not to.  It’s more for fairer-skinned people that get eaten by the bugs. 

Pamela: The bug magnets.  So that’s our day of getting there and getting set up.  Once that’s all done and we have a bit of free time we’ll then go explore the park a bit. And then it’s time for coming back and having dinner and once we’re done cleaning up after dinner, then it’s setting up a campfire typically. We love sitting around enjoying the campfire and then we’re off to bed for our first day.  Then our subsequent days usually are get up, have some breakfast, Tim’s a great cook and so he does the cooking for us. We’re so spoiled.  And then it will be somebody’s job to clean up after.  The kids again.  Once that’s done then we’re off exploring again and then back for lunch and then off exploring again or swimming and then back for dinner and campfire again. So that’s sort of a typical camping day. And then as I mentioned in a previous episode we’ll often go into town around the middle of our camping week in order to restock and enjoy the small local towns and visit the farmer’s market. 

Tim: There are lazy days too or partial lazy days. I love to read and to sit around, work on my tan a little bit, listen to the birds, what-have-you, and plow into a book that I’ve been dying to get to for ages. It’s not a bad thing either. 

Pamela: We look at camping as a reset for getting back to work. It’s our opportunity to take down-time and chill and enjoy nature.

Tim: Yeah, destress, get your blood pressure down a little bit that sort of thing.

Pamela: So then we thought we’d talk about what the last day of camping looks like.  We’re up reasonably early so that we can get ourselves all packed up and loaded and out of our site in time for the next people to enjoy it. 

Tim: Right, so we’ll have prepped anything that we’re not going to use on our last day.  I’ll largely have packed it down, not necessarily in the car but ready to go.  And then it’s the reverse of what your first day was.  I will say that it takes longer to tear it down, pack it and get it in the car than it does to take it out of the car and set it up. Now you’re doing the Tetris that you don’t have the luxury of the time of doing it the night before like you do when you’re getting ready to start your trip.  But, you’ve already done Tetris once, so as long as you’re still playing the same game, it’s the same thing again.

Pamela: Except it seems to take more space when you’re trying to put it back in the car at the end.  The same when you’re going anywhere on a trip and you’ve got luggage and you’re realizing that it didn’t go back into the luggage as easily as it did the first time. 

Tim: Yeah, sometimes the kids end up with stuff in their laps for the trip home.  It’s like, how did that…?  It fit last time! Yeah, I had more time to do it though. 

Pamela: They often complain too that bins are falling over onto them in the back seat. 

Tim: Which is valid, as they do sometimes do that.  You take more than you absolutely need because it’s about comfort when you’re front country camping and it’s doesn’t always fit in our smaller cars.

Pamela: We usually won’t hang around the park for the day on the day that we are leaving.  We’re usually anxious to get on the road.  We’ll stop for lunch somewhere along the way and this is probably one of the one or two times per year that we’ll go to one of those burger chain places, that will remain unnamed. 

Tim: The unhealthy ones. 

Pamela: Yes, but that’s once or twice a year that we’ll do that on the way home from camping.

Tim: It’s a splurge for the kids and they constantly remind me that we haven’t been in 6 months.

Pamela: And for them, it’s a tradition that MUST happen.

Pamela: That’s about it as far as our typical camping process goes.  Our campground this week is MacGregor Point Provincial Park which was a solo trip for Brandon and me and so I’m going to kick Tim out at this point and I’ll talk about it on my own. MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located near Port Elgin, Ontario. It’s along the shores of Lake Huron.  It’s one of the most ecologically diverse natural places along the Lake Huron shoreline.  One of the things that I recall about it was Port Elgin. It was a cute, really small northern Ontario town.  One of the more interesting things too that Brandon and I learned on a hike there was that it has carnivorous or meat-eating plants that make that area their home.  And it’s a well-known spot to look for migrating birds.  MacGregor Point is a four-season campground.  So it’s open year-round.  So people in the wintertime can stay in yurts, and they can go snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing and go ice skating on a 400-meter skating oval, which is weather permitting, of course.  So we quite enjoyed MacGregor Point Provincial Park.  This is another park where my family came and hung out with us while we were camping. It was not as eventful as maybe somewhere like we went last week with Grundy Lake where we saw bears.  But we did enjoy lots of hiking and biking and swimming and hanging out at the beach and driving into Port Elgin. Those were some of the highlights from MacGregor Point. And we would highly recommend MacGregor Point Provincial Park.  Tim and Thomas didn’t join us unfortunately because of work commitments for Tim. It’s never as much fun for us either, just the two of us.

Brandon and I, though, have become fairly accomplished campers in our own right.  We did several camping trips that involved just the two of us.  We would go to places not that far outside of Toronto.  We did several camping trips to Bronte Creek Provincial Park, which is near Oakville.  And we did several to Presqu’ile Provincial Park which is near Cobourg.  Brandon and I have done several just overnight camping trips on our own and quite enjoyed those as well. They’re very kind of quick in and out camping trips so we try to get there as early as we can.  Try to ideally find a site that hasn’t been booked the night before so we can get in early and get our site set up, tool around the park and enjoy some swimming or check out the beach, check out the visitor centers, and then also have our campfire and cook our food.  Brandon and I have done many of them from Wednesday overnight to Thursday.  They’re quite easy to do because the parks aren’t so busy on the midweek days like that so we can easily book one night and we can book it a week before we want to go.  And we have a small tent.  He and I are quite proficient at getting in, getting that tent set up, blowing up our air mattresses, setting up our sleeping bags and our pillows and we’ve got our camping bin with our kitchen stuff in it so that we just haul that out, get our meals cooked, throw it back in the bin, stick it back in the car.  Just as we mentioned last week we’re not leaving anything that might be a bear attractant sitting out.  So it’s easy peasy to kind of pull stuff out of the bin, put it back in the bin, put it back in the car. And same for the coolers, we just have a cooler stuck in the back seat, pull it out, get our food out, cook what we’re making, clean up afterward, load everything back into the cooler or the camping bin and stick it back in the car.  That’s our process for our little overnight trips, and that’s a bit about MacGregor Point Provincial Park.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it.  If you would like to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you. Our email address is, that’s “h” “i” at  That’s it until after Christmas so I hope you have an excellent Christmas Day, despite the circumstances, and enjoy the rest of the holidays. 

Thank you so much and talk to you soon, Bye!