Going camping was never something I really had any interest in doing. Growing up we never went camping and went to the cottage all of one time. As much as my parents enjoyed taking us outside to the park, teaching us how to ride a bike, playing in the backyard, feeding the ducks at High Park – they hate bugs and never wanted to go sleep under the stars hours away from the comfort of their home.

Even the one time they tried taking us to the cottage, they just couldn’t do it. I mean, the beach was fun, but all the mosquitos and other bugs that come with the territory of the great outdoors combined with the discomfort of bug bites was something they discovered they could happily live without. So me and my three younger brothers never went camping nor did we want to go.

I always thought it would be cool to fall asleep under the stars, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but in the back of my mind all I could hear was my mom’s voice reminding me about all the bugs. All three of my younger brothers have given it a try, and all have admitted they wouldn’t do it again, though they would do the cottage instead of a tent. So that’s not too bad.

My husband has gone camping and has always loved it – just the peacefulness of it all, the cooking outdoors, the hikes and discovering all the beautiful things God created, it’s something he enjoys immensely. But then the kids came along, and I wasn’t about to take my babies camping. I mean who does that, right?

Well, this year we decided to give it a shot. My boys, who are 6-years-old and almost 4-years-old, love being outside, as do I, and I can deal with the bugs. (I made sure to pack my bug spray, bug lotion and this new product by OFF, a Clip On Insect Repeller, which blows mosquito repellent through a clip-on portable fan keeping them away for up to 12 hours.) They on the other hand, get excitement from killing all the bugs they can.

Everything was planned early, the grocery list, clothing, camping gear, menus – everything we needed to survive a week in the great outdoors. We even got to test out a new vehicle too, the 2012 Honda Pilot. After having driven a few of Honda’s vehicles, this one is my favourite by far. Don’t get me wrong, I really loved the Honda Ridgeline, which looked like a big Tonka truck, but the Pilot had so much more space, something you need when you have a growing family.

The Honda Pilot Touring 4WD, in my opinion, was built for road trips. The trunk space is about a 4ft cargo area behind the third row of seating, and when that third row folds down the space is almost doubled, plus there’s a storage well. We had the back filled from window to window right to the roof, not including the few things we had to put in the second row between by boys. Even still, they were quite comfortable and had lots of space. The placement of cup holders and side door compartments were also great, giving my boys somewhere to place their toys and zippy cups when not in use.

The Honda DVD Rear Entertainment System with 9-inch display, integrated remote control and wireless headsets with personal surround sound was absolutely amazing. As soon as my boys had those headphones off, we couldn’t peel it away from them. That definitely made the ride a lot easier for them as they got to watch their own movies without being disturbed by our music, and vice versa.

The leather seating was very comfortable, so much so, that we didn’t stop once to stretch on our 3 and a half hour drive to Algonquin Park. And when we did get there we had no aches or pains from sitting for so long. The heated and cooling seating was also fabulous, as was the tri-zone automatic climate control, which allowed each of us to adjust the temperature of the air condition or heater the way we wanted.

With the third row seating up, the Pilot seats 8 people, which includes heated second-row seats. The Pilot is also Handsfree and Bluetooth capable, with a fabulous Satellite-Linked Navigation System and a multi-view rear camera and body-coloured front and rear parking sensors. One of my husband’s favourite perks was the SiriusXM Canada Satellite Radio so he could listen to his rock stations and hair bands.

It was also great on gas, using up about 3/4 of the tank on the ride up, maybe less, and about the same on the way down. The Honda Pilot made our first camping trip all that much more enjoyable for sure, as we didn’t have to worry about leaving things behind due to lack of space.

Once we got to our campground at Pog Lake, we checked in, and headed over to our campsite, which we were very happy with. There was a lot of privacy from the other sites around us, with only the road in front of us to worry about. We set up our sleeping tents, as well as, our dining tent, and had the Pilot parked in such a way that it blocked the road giving us a bit more privacy. The only thing we left in the Pilot was the food, as we didn’t want to attract any unwanted animals since a bear had been spotted in the area.

After dinner, we sat around the campfire for a while making s’mores, and then it was time to call it a night. It took a while for the boys to fall asleep as it was so dark they had a touch time sleeping. But once they were out cold, they slept until mid-morning the following day. It was wonderful sleeping in the tent while it lightly rained outside, and even more amazing waking up to the sun lighting up the tent with a soft glow while the birds sang their songs outside on the trees around us.

Cooking and eating in Algonquin was quite the experience, one I quite enjoyed. It’s funny how much better canned soup tastes at Algonquin. The smell of cooking over the charcoal barbecue, the heat of the fire, it just tastes delicious. Even breakfast tasted great!

Though the weather wasn’t hot they way most of the summer had already been leading up to our trip, it was still enjoyable. It rained our first night there, a bit on our hike to a lookout, and then it poured Wednesday late afternoon for about an hour and a half. It was a lot of fun listening to the thunder and pouring rain while we played games and told stories, while some of us napped. Overall, the weather was pretty good considering they were calling for 60% chance rain every day of our trip.

We created many new memories and experienced the beauty of nature like watching the sun set over Pog Lake, which was absolutely breathtaking. The bugs were barely near nor there, and didn’t bother any of us. Oh and something I definitely will never forget, was having a chipmunk eat out of the palm of my hand.

So, did I like camping enough to go again? Definitely. It was an experience I’ll always remember, enjoying the great outdoors with my hubby and my boys, one I will do again in a heartbeat.

And big thanks goes to Honda for helping us have such an enjoyable vacation. The Honda Pilot is a great ride, one I hope to own myself one day.

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