WiFi Comes to Campgrounds in Ontario

While many people camp to enjoy nature and escape the buzz of constant technology, others find they can’t do without it.

“Because of peoples’ reliance on technology, we’ve had to add Wi-Fi in the campgrounds,” said Amy Raposo, at the Barrie KOA on Hwy. 93.

After 25 years of campers roasting wieners over the fire, they can now put the dogs on hold while they check their social media status, or simply return e-mails from the hammock.

A little farther north on Hwy. 11, Debbie Brunnel offers her mostly seasonal visitors every amenity they can think of.

“We’ve added satellite TV in the community room now,” said Brunnel from the Oro Family Campground.

Ontario Parks are slowly testing the waters by offering Wi-Fi in a pilot project in their Pinery Provincial Park in the southwest corner of Ontario.

They attempted to get it up and running last year, but ran into a couple of hardware and software snags at the 1,000-site park, and only really offered the technology through the month of August, said spokesman John Salo of Ontario Parks.

“We’d see people sitting at the picnic table using their laptop every day, so it was in use,” said Salo. “But I wouldn’t say the response was overwhelming.”

They got a good idea of how many people were taking advantage of the new service, he said, as they only offered the signal at the picnic table in the area near the park’s store.

People could still use their USB Internet connections and their cellphones at their site, he said, so they weren’t completely untethered to technology.

He does say, however, there will be areas in Northern Ontario where the provincial parks will not be able to offer the new service in the near future.

“Some parks in Northern Ontario are using generators for power. It would be very difficult to have Wi-Fi there.”

For information on the Learn to Camp program, visit www.ontarioparks.com.

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