Almost three years ago, I came to Canada for the first time in my life. Since then I have gained several new experiences and skills, such as learning how to drive and becoming a ‘pro’ tour guide. However, by living in Squamish – the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada – I have developed a passion for the outdoors. I have had the chance to go hiking, swimming, and biking in the surrounding mountains, lakes, and rivers. In such a short time I have come a very long way, from barely enjoying outdoor sports to loving them. This passion for the outdoors has truly developed because of the amazing location that Quest has, but also because of my amazing host family.


Carlos and I with our host parents, Jim and Claire, during a challenging hike that we did this past weekend in Squamish. Photo taken by Nina, our host sister.


Throughout these past few years, I have had the opportunity to share many outdoor experiences and adventures with my host family in many places, from Canada all the way to Albania. I have learned important facts about the Canadian history, I have tried international food prepared by my host parents, I had my first s’more, and have even slept in a tent in a high altitude. It is specifically this last experience, going camping in the Canadian outback, that I would like to write about today. After more than three years in Canada, I am proud to say that I finally went camping.

Several months ago, Carlos and I went to Jim and Claire’s house for dinner. During the course of the evening, Nina began to talk about her camping experiences in many places of the world, such as in New Zealand, Mexico, and Belize. I was mesmerized by her stories and the fact that she had slept in a tent for long periods of time, especially because I had never tried camping before. Surprised by the fact that both Carlos and I had never tried camping, Jim promised us that when the weather got better, he would take us on a ‘wild’ experience in the Canadian outback.

Months later, when the weather started to get nicer and the days became longer, Jim kept his promise. He emailed both Carlos and I about the promise that he had made. After several weeks of attempting to pick a date that worked for everyone, we were finally set to go camping this past weekend. Due to the fact that I had never gone camping before, I sent several emails to Jim asking various questions from what to bring and how cold it will get. Moreover, I watched countless YouTube videos on what to bring, read several articles about camping safety, and even talked to several Questies who are ‘pros’ at camping. Finally, I decided to prepare as well as possible by bringing several baked goods, such as bake Gurabija, which are an Albanian type of scones made with shredded coconut flakes. Finally, I was set to go camping for the very first time.


Nina and Claire leading our hike.


My host mother, Claire, and I.


Jim preparing the campsite to set up the tents.


We drove for almost one hour to a mountain next to the famous Chief. The drive was bumpy and long; however, the beautiful view of the sunset and the surrounding mountains, made the journey worth it. Prior to setting up the tents and starting a bonfire, we decided to go for a “quick and easy” hike, or at least that is what Jim called it. More than two long and tiring hours, we were back to the camping site. The hike was quite challenging and not easy at all. However, everyone was in such a good mood, which was definitely a positive asset.

Afterwards, we all started to prepare the campground and put up our tents. I had never before set up a tent, so I am not sure how much help I was but hey, at least I tried. This whole time, I was truly excited and continuously jumped up and down. I was so excited to sleep in a tiny sleeping bag inside a tent in the middle of basically nowhere. After the tents were ready, we started a bonfire and proceeded to make hot dogs and then s’mores. This whole time we were continuously laughing, telling various stories, and listening to music through an awesome speaker. This evening made me appreciate the town that I am living in and also this amazing host family that I have had the chance to meet. I feel very thankful!


Nina and I taking selfies in front of the bonfire.


Jim, my host dad, standing next to the fire. I love the effect that the sun-rays are making in this picture, they make it look even more magical.


After drinking some tea and listening to music, we decided that it was time to go to bed. In the morning we had a quick breakfast and then started to pack everything and head back home. The trip came to an end just like that; however, now I carry so many magical memories that I will never forget. My first camping trip was a major success and I truly look forward to going camping again in the future. Thanks to Jim, Claire, Nina, and Carlos, camping is something that I truly enjoy doing now and cannot wait to take my family camping someday as well.


Heading home after an amazing night up in the mountains.










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