About Glenda de Vries & her Blog
Glenda is a winner of Top 25 Canadian Moms - 2012
What's a great destination for a family vacation in Canada?
My girls have convinced me that the best family vacation in Canada is camping in Algonquin Park, despite the thunderstorms and unpredictable weather so often experienced in the summer in northern Ontario.
We frequently see moose, white-tailed deer, beavers and loons.
Swimming in the pristine lakes with sandy beaches is unparalleled.
One of the highlights for the children is the Visitor Centre with its theatre and world class exhibits depicting the natural and human history of Algonquin in a child-friendly and interactive way.
Now that the children are a little older (13 and 9) we like to canoe with them on one or more of the 2,100 km canoe routes.
Algonquin is Ontario’s first provincial park that spans 8,000 km of wilderness. Many beautiful walking trails are quite doable with kids as long as you keep a close eye on them because some of the trails have dangerous lookout points with steep cliffs.
Years ago, when the kids were young, on one particular weekend camping I was annoyed at the non-stop rain and numerous puddles. At night when we were nestled inside our damp tent and a mosquito buzzed around while my husband sulked, Amanda, then 4 years old said, "This is the best day of my life." We have returned every year since.
In what ways is your home town unique from other places you've lived or traveled?
Because it took us 13 years to finally build a family through adoption, we had more time than most couples to travel with just the two of us. We lived in Holland for one and half years and we travelled all over Europe by train, and later we went to a few countries in Africa such as Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. We also went to China twice to adopt our children.
What strikes me the most about all of these different places is that children are happy when they are provided with security, love and the basic requirements of life. The location isn’t important.
Last year I volunteered as a Registered Nurse for a Christian medical team that works in Ghana once a year for two weeks. We travelled out to many remote tribes that barely had any association with modern life conveniences. Many of them were the poorest of the poor. All day I worked amongst these children and watched them play for hours with our discarded empty water bottles. At the end of one exhausting day, after we had returned to our compound, I picked up a text from my children back in Canada about a new toy store that had just opened in our small town. You might think I felt sorry for the Ghanian kids who had so much less. But I didn’t. Most of them were happy. They were surrounded by love in their families and tribes.
The next day I watched as a group of children jumped from rocks into the flowing river. A toy store, or an ipod, cable TV or local movie theatre wouldn’t have made them any happier.
So, to answer the question: The town of Stouffville, Ontario has a friendly, small-town feel with some happy and some sad kids, some of whom receive the love, security and basic requirements of life and some who do not, just like all the places I have seen around the world. My town does not feel unique.
What outdoor activity do you enjoy doing most with your kids?
Our favorite outdoor activity is playing in one of the local playgrounds. We enjoyed this when they were babies and we still enjoy it now that my elder girl is 13. The girls love it the most when I am actively engaged with them in play. One of our favorite activities is planning an obstacle course that we time as to who can go the fastest.
I first give them an outline of the course that changes every time. For example, I will say, climb the grey mountain (a plastic, four feet high climbing wall) and then go through the tunnel of doom (a 6 foot long red plastic tunnel), then climb over the troll’s bridge (a four foot wooden bridge) and then slide down the fire escape pole. I count while they maneuver through the course. The best part for them is when I do the course while they are counting. The worst part for me is crawling through the tunnel with my five-foot-six frame. I always lose.
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