For many of us, summer memories mean campfires; the glow of the fire, the snacks, singing favourite songs. You can still enjoy a memorable camping experience without a campfire. All we need is little creativity and some classic Canadian ingenuity to enjoy the summer evenings in the Haliburton Highlands.


Some of us love to cook over an open fire. Truth be told, you have much more control for creating great meals over a propane cook stove.

These days, you can get pretty much any kind of propane cooking appliance, from grills for your hot dogs and steaks, to pizza ovens. This is the perfect time to expand your camp stove culinary skills with these ideas.

The cozy gathering spot

Campfires are a great focal point to gather around at the end of the day. You can create that same feeling in a variety of ways. Build a tent of sticks or firewood, then add battery operated twinkle lights, camping lanterns (some of which have a “glow” setting), or glowsticks for that fire effect. The plus side is no one is chanting “white rabbits!” to try and chase away the smoke, and you won’t run out of firewood! Score bonus points by stringing more twinkle lights, or hanging electric lanterns around the gathering spot. Don’t own a camping lantern? No problem! Check out this video to create a lantern from a headlamp and a water bottle.

Not having a fire in the middle of your gathering creates new possibilities for evening fun. Gather around a lantern-lit table for a classic game of hearts, banana-gram, liars dice, or your favourite board game.

Summer nights can be cool, so compensate by bringing some extra blankets and foam pads to sit on.

PopcornThe snacks

Let’s face it, for a lot of us, summer means s’mores. That delightful concoction of toasted marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers. You can recreate the gooey goodness of a S’more by substituting marshmallow spread for the toasted marshmallows. You can find it next to the peanut butter at the grocery store. Bonus points for not having to worry about flaming balls of sugar on the end of waving sticks!

This is also a good time to expand your evening snack repertoire. Pre-make some popcorn at home – or over your propane cook stove in camp – and try one of the 50 recipes for popcorn.

Haliburton Forest Star GazingEnjoy the dark!

In the Haliburton Highlands, we are blessed with night skies that are not blocked by bright city lights. Turn off all the lights and use this time to brush up on your star gazing skills. Give your eyes 20 minutes to adjust, and you will be amazed at what you can see. A good phone app or a laminated star guide – available at most camping stores – can help guide you. Celebrate Indigenous History Month by learning some of the traditional stories associated with the stars.

Camping is about creating great memories. With all these ideas, you may not even notice that you didn’t have a campfire.