I love to camp. LOVE it. In my opinion there are few things better in life than being in an old sweater by a campfire cooking local sausages, or sipping on a local craft beer. I like sleeping close to the ground in a cramped space filled with blankets, and being woken up by the sunrise in the morning.
But, I haven’t always felt that way. In fact, long time readers of this blog may recall our first camping experience together. At the time, camping for me meant a hard top pop-up trailer with a water and electric connection, close proximity to a heated pool, three beds with mattresses, as many blankets as will fit, an outside covered area to act as an eating area, a camp stove, toaster and a large assortment of breads, muffins, spreads, bacon and eggs.
Our first experience (KOA Camping in Cornwall, PEI) ended in disaster. I abandoned ship half-way through the night, vowing to never camp Drew’s way again.
And while that first camping experience has since been followed with many more successful camp nights, I was pretty keen to check out the oTENTik Tent. It’s a camping option designed for first time or less than avid campers – a gateway camping experience of sorts. I was especially keen for that camping experience to take place in Kejimkujik.
In 1995, Kejimkujik was the first National Park to also be named a National Historic Site of Canada. The park is full of pristine lakes, white sand beaches, flowing rivers and a diverse range of plant and animal species including the greatest diversity of reptiles and amphibians in Atlantic Canada. It is also a Dark Sky Preserve one of only two in the atlantic provinces.
It is also a space that’s filled with history. Here, you can explore traditional Mi’kmaw canoe routes, portages, and fishing grounds. It is also home to North America’s largest collection of aboriginal rock art called petroglyphs.
Each oTENTik tent has a series of bunkbeds with a comfortable mattress, a bench and a table. When you check in you also receive a lamp to make getting to-and-from the nearby washrooms easy in the dark. Some of the oTENTiks even allow dogs! This pre-set camping structure makes for an affordable, ‘move-in ready’ experience. Guests just need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, and any food and extras they might like to have.
Not only did we find the accommodations to be really comfortable and warm, we discovered some amazing places and people during our stay. Like Cody and Carleen, a young couple (and their new pup) who recently opened Whynot Adventures, a paddle and outdoor adventure outfitter.
Out on the water you’ll get a whole new perspective of Keji. There is a good chance you will also encounter some wildlife – birds, beavers and white tail deer. In addition to renting canoes and kayaks they carry a wide range of camping gear rentals, so that all you really need to bring is a toothbrush. They also have guided tours and overnight excursions.
The pair have an awesome outlook on life, and believe that getting back to nature is just what the doctor ordered for our current stress-filled culture. Check out the clip above for more on Whynott Adventures and for your daily dose of inspiration – I could have listened to Cody talk about nature, health and small business all day!
Just outside the park, we met another young couple also ditching city life and making Keji home. Shannon and Lakeus were living and working in Halifax when they decided it was time for a big change. They bought The Wilder Restaurant and General Store, a family shop and restaurant that was closing after 30 years in business. Together, the two are breathing new life into the area with delicious, classic meals, movie nights, and very affordable camping supplies.
The whole trip left us feeling relaxed, renewed and inspired. Everyone we spoke to at Keji had such a great outlook on life, and each spoke of the importance of encouraging others to get back to nature. Between the comfort of the oTENTik tent, the ease and adventure of Whynott Adventures, and the great food and engaging personalities at Wilder Restaurant and General store they are well on their way to inspiring a whole new group of people to embrace the outdoors.
Kejimkujik National Park
1507 Main Parkway
Maitland Bridge, Nova Scotia
oTentik: $70.00 – $90.00 per night
Camp sites are available for around $30.00 per night
Each oTENTik can sleep four adults or a family of 6. Dog-friendly oTENTiks are available.