_yellow bus2_JPG_t285The high-light of last weekend's Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show was running into Duane and Marian Sonntag (and family of four kids and two dogs). They paddle everywhere together as a family - with everyone in the same canoe - nicknamed the "yellow bus." Wow. It's a We-no-nah that measures 23 feet long. That's just awesome! They also choose to go interior canoe/camping . But during our conversation at the outdoor show they brought up a major concern that's becoming an ever increasing issue.

The cost of canoe tripping in a provincial park has got darn expensive recently. At a main campground you pay per site, not per person. While in the interior you pay per person, not per site. You also get less for what you pay for. Basically, a fire ring and maybe a make-shift outhouse (treasure chest) if you're lucky. And you're even luckier to find the route maintained properly in many provincial parks. And parks has announced that there is a slight increase in fees for 2009.

If car camping, you're looking at between $25-$40 depending on it being an electrical site and/or showers available (per site per night). Fore the interior you're looking at between $11-$20 per person per night ($5-$8 under 18). That doesn't seem to be much when you first look at it. But if you have a large family, it adds up. For the Sonntag family to go to canoe camping for 8 days last season it added up to just under $600 (that's including the reservation fees). Again, that may look like a cheap holiday...but $600 to poop in a treasure box may not be worth it to a lot of people this year. The response i received from the parks group at the show was that the Sonntag family was quite large and that normal family groups are much smaller??? They also added that $600 wasn't a lot of money for what you receive. That last point might hold true most of the time; after all, Ontario Parks offer an incredible experience to most campers. But I went on-line today and found a flight to Mexico under $500 for two. Interesting. Let's just say, the Sonntag family have their canoe trip organized outside the park system this year and will be paddling some Crown land near Sudbury. That's even more interesting.