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Turnkey camping popping up in Black Diamond

“I started experimenting with the idea that I wonder if there are more people who are in that demographic? Who don’t consider themselves real outdoor experts, but they enjoy spending time outside."
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Glamping at the Bob Lochhead Memorial Lions Campground in Black Diamond will be available starting on the May 14-16 weekend. (Photo courtesy Meska Outdoors)

The glamping experience is set to hit High Country.

Meska Outdoors is launching its first turnkey camping offerings on May 14-16 weekend at the Bob Lochhead Memorial Lions Campground in Black Diamond.

“It’s geared towards outdoors for everyone,” said Meska Outdoors founder Gavin Stuart. “So the demographic I’m looking for is to expand the outdoors community for people that might not traditionally consider themselves to be outdoorsy.

“Not so much for backcountry guys, but for folks that maybe don’t have the confidence, don’t have the gear or are just too busy to get outside.”

Stuart counted himself among those with a less than expert outdoors approach – a journey which led to the creation of the company after the trained pilot found himself laid off in 2020.

“It took a backburner idea into a frontburner idea and it pushed me to actually get going,” he said. “I just realized that, you know when I was a kid growing up in Alberta, we were outside all of the time, summer vacations just to get outside of the house and go anywhere.

“Interestingly enough, when I grew up it didn’t really become my identity, I never would have identified as a super-outdoorsman, or a backcountry do-it-yourself kind of guy.”

That script flipped during the pandemic.

“Especially during the last year with COVID-19 the mountains is kind of that one thing that kept me and my family sane being outside,” he said. “I started experimenting with the idea that I wonder if there are more people who are in that demographic? Who don’t consider themselves real outdoor experts, but they enjoy spending time outside.

“And that’s really what this is testing. Here’s a way for your to get outside that’s family friendly, with everything right now it’s COVID-friendly, pet friendly, but you don’t have to invest in gear or have all the knowledge to do it.”

In Black Diamond, Meska has three sites set up for glamping equipped with a canvas tent featuring a real queen bed, pillows, blankets, duvets, linens, towels and dish ware inside 200 square feet of space. Outside the tent, each site has a fire put, picnic table and pair of Muskoka chairs.

“We’re just introducing ourselves to the community and looking to get more people outside,” Stuart said. “We’re setting up three sites where you just park your car and walk in, so it’s turnkey camping where you bring as little as possible and all the amenities are already there.

“Really what I’m trying to drive is experiences in the area, collaborations with artists or stand-up paddleboard lessons, hiking trails and looking at augmenting more than just a place to sleep. It’s about creating a destination centred in the Foothills.”

This is Meska’s first undertaking of a project in what Stuart termed as a validation of the concept that could be expanded into other locations.

He chose to launch in Black Diamond for a couple reasons.

“As you can imagine, when I started working on this last spring I spoke with just about everyone I could find in Alberta to find a location,” he said.

“I was really looking to anchor myself somewhere and create a theme around that.”

Conversations with the Foothills Tourism Association got Stuart in contact with the right people and ultimately led to the partnership with James Lee, the chair of the Bob Lochhead Memorial Lions Campground, run by the Foothills Lions Club.

“(James) is very much about helping younger entrepreneurs to get going,” Stuart said. “They were on board right away and that’s how we got here.”

For more information go to meskaoutdoors.com.


Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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