A room with a view; new camping experience at Ganong Nature Park

ST. STEPHEN – How would you like to go camping without having to worry about packing and lugging a lot of gear? Do you like the idea of camping, but not the idea of sleeping on the ground? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then you may be interested in knowing that you can enjoy a fun and relaxing camping trip without having to lug gear or sleep on the ground. This type of camping is known as “glamping”, and you can do it right at the Ganong Nature Park in St. Stephen.

Project Manager Tanya Herrington said the whole idea behind the park’s new glamping venture is to be able to give people a camping experience without all of the hassles of camping. Pretty much everything you need for a peaceful getaway is already there for you. All you have to bring are a few items of clothing, food, and a cooler to keep it in.

“The idea is that it is a camping experience, but you don’t have to bring your sleeping bag or bring your own tent,” said Herrington. “It’s basically all provided for you. Instead of sleeping on the ground, you can sleep in a comfortable, queen-size bed. There’s even nice, hotel-quality linen. We provide everything from the coffee and the coffee, your essential amenities. To cook lunch and dinner, we’ve got a Coleman stove and a little pot and pan and utensils.”

This may not be quite like staying in a cottage, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get. These large, canvas tents have all the comforts of home, and there is very little difference between the amenities in these 12-foot by 14-foot tents and traditional cabins. This is a great chance to get close to nature, even if you have no camping experience whatsoever. Maybe you do have camping experience but you don’t have the gear. Either way, this may just be the ideal getaway for you.

Each unit offers a queen size bed with blankets, sheets, and pillows. There is also a Coleman stove in each unit, along with a pot and a pan, dishes, and utensils. There is even a water dispenser, coffee, and a coffee press in the units. You will also find towels, shampoo and conditioner, and locally-made soap. Each unit has its own fire pit, and kindling is included so you don’t have to bring your own campfire wood or pay extra for it.

While these are all great selling points, Herrington said the real selling point is the magnificent view of the St. Croix River. The two glamping units are located right in the middle of the park’s apple orchard, with an unobstructed view of the river. Then, there is always the opportunity to hike around the park, and even go down to the beach to relax, look for seashells, and enjoy nature at its finest.

In this first phase of the glamping project, there are two tents that are suitable for one to two people. The Ganong Nature Park Board of Directors is testing the market this year, and if the idea proves to be a popular one, there may be an expansion next year that includes a family-friendly tent. They are also considering creating a pet-friendly unit.

“Our units aren’t pet-friendly,” said Herrington. “If we do expand next year, we definitely want to consider a pet-friendly tent as well. I’m a dog owner myself, and I love traveling with my dog, so I understand those challenges. But, those units aren’t suited for dogs.”

So, how did the idea come about in the first place? Herrington said the board of the Ganong Nature Park has been talking about the idea for a few years. They just had to figure out ways to overcome the challenge of not making a huge impact on the environment, or the community’s use of the park.

“It’s been a few years in the making,” said Herrington. “This year, all the elements kind of came together for us to start this venture. We’re starting out small with two units to see if there’s any interest and any demand for it. If there is, we’ll expand and add a few more units next year. Essentially, the board has been wanting to find a way for people to experience the park in new ways. Also, the board has been trying to find a sustainable revenue source as well.”

Herrington went on to discuss the importance of environmental impact. She said this was a major factor in every decision that the board has made, and they have consciously made “eco-friendly decisions”. All of the furniture in each unit is upcycled by refinishing existing furniture. The tent platforms and headboards for the beds are made from wood that was taken from trees that fell in the park over the course of the winter. They also received a “generous donation” from Disher Homes when they were clearing a lot.

“Our mattresses are organic cotton. The plates and the bowls are a wheat grass plastic. We really tried to make eco-friendly decisions and have little impact on the environment.”

Not only is the board taking steps to be eco-friendly, they are also being very community-minded. They are supporting local businesses by purchasing items from St. Stephen stores. For instance, much of the décor for the units has come from Spree. The coffee is provided by Puny Human. The soaps are provided by Garden by the Sea.

If you want to learn more about the glamping experience at the Ganong Nature Park, please visit the Facebook page, or call 467-9905.