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See Home: A Winter RV Trip with Brown Girl Outdoor World

Demiesha Dennis

Toronto, Ontario | Canada

Demiesha Dennis (She/Her) is the Founder and Director of Brown Girl Outdoor World (BGOW). Based in Toronto, Canada, she, through her work with BGOW, is actively working to change present narratives related to change, inclusion, belonging and safety in outdoor spaces for diverse, historically excluded communities.

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Stories From the Road See Home: A Winter RV Trip with Brown Girl Outdoor World

For myself and many of those in the Brown Girl Outdoor World (BGOW) community, Canada is a second home.

I grew up in Jamaica where some of my happiest memories were made in the outdoors spending time with my family in nature. But when I moved to Canada, I quickly noticed the absence of BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) women in the many outdoor activities I participated in.

Despite the abundant opportunities for outdoor activities and the diverse nature at our doorstep, many in our community are excluded from the outdoor narrative. This exclusion leaves the very idea of adventure and outdoor exploration far from our minds. To change this, I founded BGOW, an organization that creates adventures to remind BIPoC communities that they too belong in the great outdoors. 

This trip reminded us that home is how and where you choose. At each fuel stop, the opportunity to connect with others in the group opened a world to us that wouldn’t have been experienced on a flight.

three women from BGOW drinking mimosas while camping in Quebec in their RV
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Stop 1

Arriving at the campsite at Parc Rivière-Gentilly.

BGOW participant getting their skis from the RV and getting ready to go to the slopes at Stoneham Resort in Quebec
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Stop 2

Skiing at Stoneham Resort in Québec.

BGOW group at La Traite Restaurant, Wendake
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Stop 3

Dinner at La Traite restaurant.

SEE HOME

Our See Home campaign was created to help us discover more of Canada and build a stronger connection to it through travel, exploration, and by creating opportunities for outdoor adventure for our community. And RVing across Canada is the perfect way to truly See Home with each passing kilometer.

We felt inspired to showcase the beauty of Eastern Canada in a new way on this trip. We wanted a mix of high adventure and relaxation, and the Québec City area provided just that. On the morning of the RV pick-up in Toronto, we set off with 8 participants from BGOW in two RVs heading to Québec City. Immediately, we had a feeling that this trip would be different.

As meticulously planned as our itinerary was, Mother Nature had her own plans in mind for our journey. A massive snowstorm swept through Quebec halfway through our trip, altering the trajectory of the remaining half of our 5-day trip.

Luckily, we had already knocked off some of the stops on our itinerary the previous day. We had gone skiing at Stoneham Resort, and enjoyed a delicious group meal at La Traite, an Indigenous restaurant in the Wendake Region. But with roads covered in heavy snow leaving us immobilized, most of the remaining stops we had planned to make were now history.

BGOW participant behind the wheel of a class c motorhome ready to hit the road

Hitting the road! Leaving Toronto on day 1 and heading to Québec.

BGOW participants skiing for the first time and Stoneham Resort in Québec

Learning to ski at Stoneham Resort.

WINTER RVING TIP: BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING

This unexpected turn of weather gifted us with a fresh perspective on nature. We also quickly learned the importance of researching and choosing a great campground, as the amazing activities and amenities at Parc Rivière-Gentilly saved our trip. Even though the snowstorm stopped our plan to visit a nearby national park, we were lucky to discover beautiful trails, streams, and abundant nature to explore right at our campground at Parc Rivière-Gentilly.

This prompted us to embrace the beauty of our surroundings and rediscover the child-like pleasures of outdoor exploration. Building snowmen and snowball fights became impromptu highlights, capturing the essence of our reimagined adventure amidst the wintry landscape.

BGOW group posing with the snowman they built

FIRST-TIME RVERS TO RV PRO’S

Traveling in an RV with a group of 8 people is a blend of adventure, learning, and flexibility that laid the foundation for the entire experience. Being in an RV where even though space is abundant, there is a unique sense of closeness. Every meal prep, game night, and even the most ‘scenic’ OnRoute pit stop is turned into a shared memory.

We created meals that ranged from the most delicious Trinidadian doubles as eighteen-wheelers rolled to a stop beside us to exquisite salmon bowls made from the freshest ingredients with the glow of a campfire pouring through the window. The convenience of having a kitchen, beds, and a bathroom on board offered a level of comfort and self-sufficiency that other forms of travel could not have offered us.

Situations that would have been challenging to figure out independently, quickly became group projects that inspired creativity, problem-solving, and the ability to laugh at even yourself. As first-time RVers setting out from Toronto, our initial trepidation quickly turned into a confident declaration: “We would definitely do this again!”

Group of BGOW participants enjoying breakfast around a campfire

REIMAGINING HOME

This trip was unlike anything we’ve ever executed at Brown Girl Outdoor World.

With all the lessons we learned we could not have dreamed the joy that would come from skiing and watching folks conquer fears, to the smiles that graced the faces of participants as our snowman came to life, or the sense of community we felt as we shared stories from a day of travel over delicious Indigenous cuisine at La Traite.

During one of the evenings on this trip, the silence of the campground briefly interrupted by a neighbour’s laughter, quickly reminded me that there was more to that idea of home we set out to find. The ability to turn your face to the clear skies, where billions of stars danced in unison, reminded us that to truly embrace an expansive idea of home, we must step outside of the preconceived and dance in the magic of exploration of new and unfamiliar.

Home can be reimagined. Whether your desires are for long term travel on a cross-country adventure or simply to enjoy a weekend from your usual routine, how and where you see home is up to you.

BGOW’S WINTER RV TIPS

There is no such thing as being “over prepared” especially when you’re RVing for the first time in the winter.  With an RV, especially in winter, you quickly learn that being overly prepared will more than likely make your experience one that you won’t soon forget.

  1. Have a list of commercial propane stations at the ready.
  2. Trust us, everything works! You just need to make sure it’s plugged in…
  3. There’s no way to avoid almost everyone knowing you need a bathroom break – but we’re all friends here, right?
  4. Ask if the public washrooms are open at the campground and know where the closest bathroom is to your site – just in case.
  5. Bring water! Lots of water and when you think you’ve had enough water, bring more.
  6. Prepping some of your meals in advance and have them ready for quick reheating.
  7. Read ALL the operating instructions. Watch ALL the video tutorials, you’ll panic less.
  8. Storage bins are top tier and make everything easier especially when you’re travelling in a big group.
  9. Keep an open mind. It’s near perfect, not perfect.
  10. Pack that first aid kit.
Two members of BGOW walking in the winter with an RV parked at a campsite
IN THIS STORY

Class C Motorhome

Class C Motorhomes are easily recognizable by the over-the-cab area that is often an optional sleeping area. This type of RV is built on an automotive van frame with a wider body section attached to the original cab. Amenities are similar to those in conventional motorhomes with large kitchens, spacious living areas, large bathrooms, and a separate bedroom.

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