wifi camping
Credit: thejohns/dreamstime

Parks Canada to make Wi-Fi available — the fire pit is no longer the only hot spot.

Parks Canada just announced they’re looking into providing Wi-Fi within some of our national parks. How strange. Didn’t they just spend a good chunk of money in helping to create the reality television series, Operation Unplugged? I guess the show was a flop.

So far, it seems they plan to simply provide hot spots at places like a campground’s visitor centre. Ontario Parks already started that in some parks — Pinery for example. Campers have to go to an area to hook up. That doesn’t seem so bad. It’s a bit like what we did years ago, walking up to use a pay phone at the park gate.

So what’s the big deal? Why has this issue gone viral in the media? Maybe because so many of us are thinking this is the beginning of the end. Soon we’ll be able to play a World of Warcraft tournament while camped out in the backcountry.

Why the switch in welcoming modern technology into a wilderness setting? Parks Canada is losing customers, and the number-one complaint to parks staff over the last few years is not being able to access Wi-Fi. I guess the customer is always right. But are the ones complaining the actual majority? I posted the issue on my Facebook the other day, just after being interviewed about it on CBC radio. In a few hours I had an insane amount of comments. Some were for it, but most were totally against it.

My college Outdoor Education students had something to say about it. Half believed it was better to connect to nature then to your iPad. They also added that they didn’t want those types of people camping beside them; they should just stay at home and pacify their addiction. The other half encouraged it, believing that it’s those types of people who we need to go camping in the first place — and that we should do whatever it takes to get them out there.

It was a hot topic at the diner table at home as well. My wife, who works in social media (and won the Tweeter award three times running), made a good comment. She believes that campgrounds aren’t about camping anymore. They’re full of RVs with satellite TV.

“Give them their guilty pleasures,” she said. “After all, standing in the way of progress is a good way to get run over.”

My nine-year-old daughter totally disagreed. She claimed it was obvious that the people who made up such a stupid idea have obviously never gone camping.

What’s your opinion on the issue? Should we welcome Wi-Fi in our National Parks or is this the beginning of the end?

Share it in the comments below and let’s see who wins the debate.