By Allison Smith

Last year, the concept of “summer vacation” was very different. It didn’t start, more or less, in March, for one thing, and there weren’t so many of us on it all at the same time.

For a while summer vacation seemed to mean simply staying up and sleeping in a bit later, spending more time at home doing long-overdue DIY projects and perhaps starting Happy Hour at 4 instead of 5. But after restrictions eased a bit and the world – or at least our little part of it, here on Vancouver Island – seemed slightly safer again, we started to look around at the house we’d spent so much time in over the last months and try to figure out how, exactly, we could holiday this year.

Taking a flight was out, as was crossing any borders (provincial or international). So the answer, we found, was staying in our own Beautiful British Columbia. Camping! we concluded en masse, and the coolers, tents and firepits flew off the shelves of Canadian Tire while the rental hotlines at local RV places jammed up until all recreational vehicles were booked solid for the rest of the season.

For our family, camping is always a part of our summer. Some may call it glamping (we opt for spaghetti over hot dogs, and comfort over a “true rustic experience”) but to us it’s the most time our whole family spends together all year, and the beautiful setting at various Vancouver Island parks is a bonus.

We recently got back from Miracle Beach and it was a real vacation – not just from work emails and to-do lists, but from this strange, Covid-tinged life we’ve been living. Yes there was an acceptably-spaced line at the bathrooms, and parents monitored how many kids were on the playground at one time, but other than that it felt … normal. The overwhelming soundtrack was that of birds in the trees, ocean waves and my daughter and nieces laughing as they rode their bikes and hunted for slugs. We got to ignore the endless newstream of the pandemic for a while, and in so doing, appreciate our summer holiday as it should be – uncomplicated and relaxing.

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