This post was originally published on my personal blog – three years ago! We still love the Orleans Fruit Farm, and yes, I still love that kale salad
Although we officially have five more days to go, I’m going to jump the gun and call it: Autumn is Here. The nights are cold, the mornings are chilly (and in many parts of this world, frosty!), and the days are clear and bright. As Stuart McLean said on the Vinyl Cafe, the sky is a different kind of blue now than it is in July and August.
What better way to kick off our first fall weekend than with a visit to the local apple orchard:
The sunflowers welcomed us as though we were royalty
Her Highness was all too willing to oblige
The bees were busy this weekend – they know the end is near
A curious little elf hid amongst the towering flowers…
But emerged to bite into every apple she could find – whether they be on the ground or in the trees
“How do you like them apples!?”
A warm dinner of curried carrot soup – thanks to the sweet roots we had growing in our garden this year
And freshly baked whole wheat bread, with flour from Castor River Farm
To finish off, a salad with garden tomatoes and local purple kale
Tonight I’m hoping for dreams as vivid as the fall colours….
My family loves to camp. Or maybe I should say my husband really loves to camp, and I sort of love it. I don’t mind sleeping in a tent, and I’m happy outdoors as long as the bugs aren’t too bad. But I have a terrible fear of bears, and feel uneasy in the wilderness. I know that I have a better chance dying in my automobile than dying at the jaws or paws of a bear, but there isn’t much rational thinking that occurs when I’m imagining myself (or my girls) being eaten alive.
Despite my reservations, I believe that camping is a fantastic activity for kids. Not only are they learning new skills and an appreciation of nature, but they’re doing what kids do best – getting dirty and exploring the world!
So each year we plan a camping trip with good friends of ours, who also have two daughters around the same age as our daughters. This year we chose Bon Echo Provincial Park, about a 2.5 hour drive from Ottawa.
We reserved site #165, which is one of five walk-in sites at the Sawmill Bay campground on Mazinaw Lake. Bon Echo also has back country camping, cabins and yurts.
- There’s a lot to do with kids. We rented a canoe for 1 hour and went to check out the native pictographs on Mazinaw Rock. The park offered amazing kids programs every morning at 10am, and most evenings at their amphitheatre.
- The beaches are sandy and clean. The girls spent many hours wading, swimming and building sand castles.
- The walk-in sites are beautiful – rocky and treed, and right on the water. You could easily jump off the rocks at your site and go for a swim. The lake is the second-deepest in Southern Ontario.
- For a walk-in site, I expected to have neighbours who had done a lot of camping and respected general camping rules. Nuh-uh, didn’t happen. We ended up with several yahoos camping on either side of us – one couple lighting their fire with charcoal and starter fluid, another dragging giant logs and brush to burn, and a group of campers with no respect for quiet after dark (to give them credit, they weren’t drinking or anything – they were just obnoxiously loud people. In fact, the following group at that site were the ones drinking and carrying on, and even they shut up at 11pm. I could have kissed them!)
- Walk-in sites and young children don’t really mix (but as another positive, I’m in really great shape after all that walking back and forth!)
- Lack of policing from park rangers: our friends were staying in the main Sawmill campground, and had a horrible experience with drunken teenagers (or maybe they were 20…whatever). And in the walk-in campsites, we didn’t see a single ranger in seven days. I realize funding is scarce, but I think a walk-through each evening is warranted. I could have made the park a ton of money by handing out tickets for all the infractions I spotted
- The park was BUSY. Although I appreciate the human bodies surrounding me (as protection from bears, of course!), my hubby and I could have done with a quieter experience. We camped Achray in 2012 and it was very peaceful.
Although my negatives seem to outweigh the positives, we still had a wonderful time. The girls had a blast with their little friends, and the giant tarp my husband rigged up over the campsite saved us from days of rain. We’re already planning our trip next year, and need ideas. What are your favourite campgrounds for kids?
Oh, and no bears were spotted. That didn’t stop me from having a 2am heart attack after I heard what I thought was a bear – it was just a really loud racoon
This is a post from our sponsor Bells Corners Cooperative Nursery School. I’ve heard amazing things about their school, so check them out!
September will mark the final year of Ontario’s roll out for full day junior and senior kindergarten, meaning kids as young as three will be heading off to school for at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Though this new programming may feel like a financial and logistical blessing for dual income families, a vast majority of parents are left feeling uncomfortable with their children’s ability or readiness to cope with institutional care for such long hours in their young life.
While the actual benefits of full day kindergarden are being publicly and feverishly debated, these parents are still left on the sidelines scrambling to find alternatives – alternatives that will not only meet (or better, exceed) the educational milestones of the mainstream kindergarten curriculum, but nurture their child’s innate curiosity, instil a love of learning and celebrate their unique little personalities.
Bells Corners Co-operative Nursery School (BCCNS) provides an exceptional alternative or supplement to full-day kindergarten. Based on a core belief that every child and family has a right to a quality early years education and experience, BCCNS provides a unique and caring program that fosters hands on “learning through play” experiences specifically focused on developing self confident, life-long learners.
The program is staffed by experienced, passionate and educated teachers. “We maintain a cap of 16 students per 2 teachers to ensure adequate one on one time with each of the students on a daily basis.” says Chelsea Coe, Program Director at BCCNS. “The small class sizes also allows us to conduct special projects, exercises and experiments that would otherwise not be possible with a larger group of students. This means we are not only able to fulfill the curriculum standards set by the Ontario Ministry of Education, but we go above and beyond those requirements.”
If you live in the area and are looking at alternative care, contact BCCNS today!