Growing up in the U.K. I never went camping. A vacation for our family was a holiday at the seaside in a cozy bed and breakfast. So when my husband suggested a camping holiday in the Canadian woods with a twelve month old baby I was not impressed. I was even less impressed when he booked us into a lakeside cabin with a wood stove and an outdoor toilet. But I survived and, being a glutton for punishment, I went on quite a few family camping trips over the next few years and I learned quite a bit in the process. I learned very quickly to protect food from critters such as mice and rats by keeping all food in metal containers with snug fitting lids (cookie tins are ideal) or in a sturdy camp cooler with a locking lid. But bears were a whole different story. I was convinced that they would be lurking behind every tree in the Canadian forest, waiting to eat me alive. So you can imagine my horror when we were picknicing one day and I saw a large black head with a hump of hair on the back of its neck poking out from behind a giaht rock. I screamed “bear!!!” and grabbed my husband in a death grip.
Then I realized that he and everybody else at the picnic site were laughing at me, which was humiliating to say the least. As the “bear” emerged from behind the rock I realized that it was actually an enormous dog, the likes of which I had never seen before. This was my first encounter with a Newfoundland, which looks like an enormous black St. Bernard. It took me days to recover from the shock. But I took solace in the fact that bears generally tend to avoid humans. Unless, that is, they sense the possibility of a free lunch. So I also learned that if you are camping in bear country, you should always keep your campsite clean and store food and scented products well away from the tent you are sleeping in. Although experts are full of advice about what to do if you actually do encounter a bear, the best thing is to avoid the potential for bear encounters by staying on marked trails, never hiking after dark, and making a lot of noise to avoid taking a bear by surprise. If you want to read more about my camping adventures and find out some more information about bear safety, go here: http://www.infobarrel.com/Canadian_Camping_Adventures