Sunday, July 30, 2017

oTentiks at Newman Sound, Terra Nova Park | what to do with kids

Parks Canada has temporary accommodations in some of it's National Parks called oTentiks.  In my own words, I'd describe them as an oversized tent to the point where you wonder whether you are actually in a cabin. While you don't have a washroom or fridge, it's spacious and definitely more comfortable than a tent.

Be sure to make your reservations early on the Parks Canada website.  Also be sure to know that you need a park pass as well - this is a day pass that goes in your window.  In terms of price, I paid $100 per night and it's well worth it.

Overall, my family of four oTentiks adventure was amazing.  The Newman Sound camping grounds are perfect in every way and the accommodations made everything seem that much better.  However, there are things you should know and certainly things you should bring in order to make your stay a little easier.


1. There are no washrooms in your oTentik.  In order to use the washroom, you need to go to a 'comfort' station.  Around our loop, there was 2 comfort stations within a short distance of our oTentik.  I couldn't believe how clean these washrooms were.  I recently travelled to Mexico and it blew my mind that I would be camping in a National Park with bears and the washrooms were cleaner than my 4.5 star resort. Oh, and yes - I had a warm shower.

2. You cannot eat inside your oTentik. Yes, there is a table. But there's a picnic table outside for your eats.  They want to keep the oTentiks clean and reduce the chance of a bear wandering into your sanctuary.  But this is some important information because now you should bring a tablecloth and a screen house to go over your picnic table is useful to keep the squirrels and bugs out.

3. There is some electricity in your oTentik.  I am no electrician but we had dim lights inside and outside our oTentik, as well as a small heater... and a plug including some USB ports.  Yup.  we sure are roughing it.

4. You can sleep up to 8 people.  There are 6 normal human size mattresses on the bottom and then 2 mattresses on the top.  Honestly though, if you wanted to squeeze even ten little humans on the bottom, you could.  It might not be perfect but you definitely could.  You should know that there's no double mattress so if you like to cuddle then you may be falling into a little gap between the mattresses.

5. There are no campfires on your oTentiks site.  You have to go to a communal 'campfire' pit to enjoy s'mores and roasted weinies. I decided like the thought at fire but it's not so bad. In the campfire areas there are several pits so it seemed that most families just wandered over to a pit and set up.  If you aren't a social butterfly, you don't have to share.  You'll be OK.  Keep in mind that the National Parks watch the fire index so there could be nights where you can't have a fire at all.

6. The BBQ is good and has a side burner. You can't live without your eggs and bacon every morning?  No problem. The size burner is perfect

7. Your coolers and food must stay in your vehicle.  Be sure to keep this in mind because it means you need to go back and forth all the time.  Having it in the trunk is the most accessible.


1. Food. Yup, you need food obviously. Make a meal plan. See below for mine. For a two day trip, I like to have 3 coolers. One cooler for your stuff that needs to stay cold or you are doomed like milk, cheese slices, carnation milk, eggs. Another cooler for your condiments like butter, mayo, BBQ sauce, ketchup, yogurt drinks, bacon, etc. A third cooler for your drinks. An electric cooler would be amazing.  I didn't have an electric cooler but you'll be able to stock up on ice from the Newman Sound store.  Bring another box of food for your non-perishables like bananas, peanut butter, bread, hot dog buns, potato chips, sugar and tea bags, your kids box of snacks, marshmallows, Pam, and s'mores kit.

2. Food prep. Paper plates, paper cups, plastic forks, spoons and knives, couple rolls of paper towels and a couple mugs for the adults in the camping party. Bring a couple knives for cutting but try to bring the ones with a cover. Tablecloth, screen house, frying pan, flipper, kettle if you love your coffee and tea.  Always. Always. Always bring some tupperware containers and ziplock bags. This goes for any travel. You always need this to cover the bacon or to move the fruit to a smaller container or to hold the goldfish. All this gear goes in its own Costco Bag.

3. Toiletries + Beach gear. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, hair brush, and mouthwash. Bring a couple hand towels and face clothes. Bring a towel for every person especially if you intend to go to the beach. If showers are for you then you should bring shower shoes and a small shower caddy with your shampoo and soap. Don't forget goggles, a beach blanket, a beach bag that you can carry easily, floats, sand toys, and your favourite book for any day you are heading to the water.

4. Outdoor Play. Bikes, scooters, bubbles, hola hoops, water guns, sand toys.. Now might be the time to try out that oversized bubble wand or to get those training wheels off. I put all this in a Costco Bag.

5. Disinfectant and Cleaning Gear.  Hand sanitizer. Bring a dish pan, kitchen clothes and some dish liquid so you can quickly clean up. Bring Lysol wipes to always wipe down the table cloth - you do know that the squirrels like to play in your eating area, right?  Bring a couple rolls of paper towels.  Bring a couple packs of moist wipes to bring to the campfire with you for quick clean up of melted marshmallows.  I like to put all this in a Costco Bag.

6. A water container.  It's not necessary but its nice to have a bucket of water for quick clean up of hands and dishes.

7. Medical Kit.  I make my own medical kits in a big container.  It will contain kids and adult medicine.  Here's my list; sunscreen, fly dope, after bite (vagisal is more effective if you ask me... serious.), aloe, water proof bandaids, allergy meds for adults + kids, ibuprofen for adults + kids (chewable for kids), polysporin, baby powder and/or diaper rash cream, and heat/cold packs. This will go everywhere with me in the car. Keep in mind civilization is not far and there are two hospitals no more than an hour away in Clarenville and Gander.

8. Lots of drinks.  You will want a cooler for drinks alone that can stay on the patio of your oTentik.  Lots of water, gatorade, alcohol, juice boxes and soda pop.  Stock up on ice each day from the Newman Store.

9. Campfire gear. Bring a re-usable shopping bag to cart back and forth to the fire pit. Be sure to have matches or a lighter and some kindling. Fire wood should come only from the Newman Sound store.  They don't like to spread wood diseases apparently. Consider bringing some mystic fire or sparklers for extra fire fun! Always have marshmallow roasters and s'mores kit.  You should also have camping chairs and/or a folding beach.  Although there's a small bench at each pit, it can only fit a couple people comfortably.

10. Laundry Basket. Your clothes will get dirty fast so be sure bring a laundry basket so you can throw everything that's dirty right away in the basket.  Use the basket to bring bedding when you pack up your car too.

11. Bedding. Sleeping bags for each kid and pillows.  Bring the adults sleeping bags or heavy blankets.  Sheets are a plus for sure but not necessary. Don't forget pillows for the adults.  Favourite stuffs and sleeping comforts for the kiddos. Keep in mind mattresses are not necessary. Bring some kids books to read to them before they head off into a slumber.  Bring a lap blanket so you can sit outside on the adirondack chairs with your partner for a moments peace when the kids go to sleep.

12. Clothes. Pack a bag for each person so that you know where everything is. Remember flip flops and sneakers, socks, undies, pyjamas, shorts and tees, plus one set of long pants and a hoodie for the night campfire. My rule of thumb for the kids is bring double the number of nights for socks, underwear, tees and shorts.

13. Flashlights.  You'll need a flashlight when you need to run to the comfort station in the middle of the night to see the path as you sprint with blistering speed to avoid the bears lurking in the woods... But try to remember a couple soft lights for the kids at night. Plus every kid wants to hold their own light so be sure to accommodate.

14. Ropes and Clothespins.  Believe me, you'll wish you brought a simple line to tie between two trees to put up your wet or sandy gear.

15. Other.  Don't forget your camera and charging cords. Bring a deck of cards and a crib board.


1. Hiking Trails + Look-out. There are 4 hiking trails near Newman Sound.  The Coastal Trail, Sandy Pond, Dunphy's Walk and a fourth.  Although I never explored them, it seems that the Coastal Trail and Sandy Pond are beautiful.  The Coastal Trail goes around the Newman Sound camp ground so if you have kids that could do a hike without complaining this is the one for you.  It's easy to hop on a off.  If you want to hike with your kids, take the Beaver Trail from the Newman Sound store and walk down to the Look Out.  There is a playground and picnic area here that can make a great reward.  Not to mention it's filled with dragon flies.

2. Kids Activity Centre. Be sure to check the daily schedule of the events happening at the Activity Centre. This is where you might want to go in the event of rain. Theres lots of arts and crafts as well as board games and things to make the time pass.  You can leave your children who are over 4 years of age for a little while although I wouldn't go far.  They have some amazing acitivities here if you catch the right day so take advantage. Did I mention it's free?

3. Touch Tank. If its a rainy day head to the touch tank to ride it out - it's only about a 10 minute drive to the west.  Otherwise I wouldn't waste your time or money.  It's cute but it's not going to be a day long activity.  Grab a coffee and pastry here - Honestly, the cookies, cakes and muffins have always left my mouth wanting more.  These ladies know how to bake.

4. Sandy Pond. A MUST do. This is by far my favourite and I can go here for several days.  The pond is super low and super soft so bringing kids here isn't stressful.  You can let them catch little fish all day while you tan on the beach.  It's a perfect setting for a perfect day.  There are boat rentals and some washrooms, as well as a hiking trail that goes all around.

5. Splash n' Putt. Located right outside the park to the west, this can be a pricy adventure, it definitely has something for all.  I'll do a separate post on this but generally its $190 plus tax for a family of four for a swimming pool, splash pad, mini golf, bumper cars and boats, as well as go karts.  Of course, the water slide is perfect for babies to oldies.

6. Visit Eastport. Located to the west about 20 minutes to the west of Newman Sound. Eastport has plenty of things to do including visiting their art museum, taking a dip in the salt water of Eastport Beach, let the kids ride a Newfoundland Pony and grab a delicious ice cream.


Day 1: Arrival Day.
Breakfast - Not even out the door yet.  You are on your own kids!
Lunch - Eatin' on the Road.  Better make this one healthy folks. Think Subway.
Supper - Steak, Caesar Salad, Baked Potato
Snacks - Campfire Marshmallows + Chips

Day 2: Sandy Pond + Exploring at Newman Sound
Breakfast - yogurt drinks + fruit tray for kids until eggs + bacon ready on the BBQ
Lunch - Make your own sub sandwiches + fruit tray
Supper - Hot Dogs + Burgers and potato salad

Day 3: Check out at 11am + Splash n' Putt
Breakfast - yogurt drinks + fruit tray for kids until eggs + bacon ready on the BBQ
Lunch - Mary Browns at Splash n' Putt or Fish and Chips in Charlottetown
Supper - Who knows

Thanks for dropping by and hope you have an amazing oTentik adventure!  Be sure to comment if you have questions or if this was helpful to you!