Jayne Seagrave’s tips will help you survive Camping With Kids in the West

Guidebook highlights family-friendly campgrounds in B.C. and Alberta parks

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      One place that Jayne Seagrave and her family love visiting is the vehicle-accessible campground at Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on Galiano Island.

      “That one’s not particularly large, but it has a beach and they can run wild there,” Seagrave told the Georgia Straight by phone from her Vancouver home. “It has just really, really nice, calm waters.”

      Seagrave is best-known as the author of Camping British Columbia and Yukon, which saw its seventh edition released last year. Now Victoria’s Heritage House Publishing has put out her latest guidebook, Camping With Kids in the West.

      Subtitled B.C. and Alberta’s Best Family Campgrounds, the paperback spans 192 pages and features 25 provincial and national parks. Montague Harbour, Manning Provincial Park, Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Kootenay National Park, and Waterton Lakes National Park are among the places whose history, location, facilities, and recreational activities are described.

      A dozen or so years ago, Seagrave authored a similar book with the same title. She pointed out the new guide is not a second edition of the previous book.

      “Basically, that was focusing on very much camping with much younger children, and also there wasn’t very much about Alberta,” Seagrave said. “There was only three campsites in Alberta. So my publisher came back to me last year and said, ‘We’d like to do a complete rewrite.’ So although it’s got the same title—we liked the title very much—the book is completely different.”

      Heritage House Publishing has released Jayne Seagrave’s Camping With Kids in the West.

      In Camping With Kids in the West, Seagrave shares her observations about camping while pregnant and with babies, preschoolers, preteens, and teenagers. She provides a handy list of essential items to pack for family camping.

      According to Seagrave, children ages 2 to 4 make for the “most challenging time”. For families with young kids, she recommends using a recreational vehicle and camping closer to home—at Alice Lake Provincial Park in Squamish, for instance.

      “If the kid gets stung by a bee and swells up, then you can easily get to a hospital,” Seagrave said. “If it falls down and breaks a leg, you can get somewhere.”

      She added: “The nice thing about doing those sort of campgrounds is, if you decide that you want to order in pizza, you can get very easily to Squamish and have pizza.”

      Seagrave asserted that camping gives parents a chance to give their kids “a lot more freedom”.

      “If your children don’t want to wash for three days, you let them not wash for three days,” she said. “If they’re going to wear the same shorts, they can just do that. If they’re going to stay up until 10 o’clock at night to watch the night sky, they can do that.”

      The Kettle Valley Railway in Summerland, B.C., can be experienced as part of a camping trip.
      Trevor Julier

      B.C. campers might be surprised by some of the conveniences on offer at Alberta’s provincial parks.

      “They have complimentary life vests for the kids,” Seagrave said. “They don’t have that in B.C., but they have that in Alberta. The larger campgrounds have things like laundry facilities. They have a lot more concession stands as well, so you don’t have to go somewhere else to get your hot dog or something.”

      Sadly, Seagrave remarked that her two teenage sons aren’t so keen on family camping trips anymore.

      “Do it when they’re young and enthusiastic, and before they get to be opinionated teenagers that want to work in Safeway or want to hang out with their friends,” Seagrave advised.

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