With the longer days and warmer weather, outdoor enthusiasts are starting to think about summertime activities like camping.

And the rush to book some of those Seaway camping sites will begin on Wednesday, when the online reservation portal opens up on Parks of the St. Lawrence.

"We're hopeful that everything will go well," said Mike Pratt, west parks operations assistant manager with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission (SLPC). "We’re confident enough in the system that we are opening it up for every campground, not just one at a time and fingers crossed I think it will go well."

SLPC is in charge of 10 campgrounds along the Seaway from Lancaster to Ivy Lea, all with river access.

"There’s a campsite I believe for everybody, from the classic tenting sites right up to sites with water and hydro service for RVs or campers," Pratt said. "We do have roofed accommodations, cabins and lodges, throughout our parks."

Brockville resident Susie Brown already has her computer ready for Wednesday.

"We always thought (Ivy Lea) was our best kept secret!" she told CTV News Ottawa. "It’s pretty well you have to get a reservation now to get your spot."

Brown has been camping along the Seaway in Ivy Lea for decades. It’s become a yearly family tradition.

"When I was a teenager and old enough to do my own camping, friends and I would go and then when I had my own children it was my opportunity to take them and introduce them to the beautiful St. Lawrence and Ivy Lea Park," she said.

Brown's daughter Steph is also ready to reserve on Wednesday morning.

"It’s kind of like a lottery or more like a music concert; you just kind of refresh and refresh and hope for the best," she said.

Steph says she's grown up at Ivy Lea park, able to secure a site for 10 days last summer.

"I've stayed at all the different sites throughout the park and the whole park itself is just my happy place," she said.

With scenic views of the river, and partly nestled under the 1000 Islands International Bridge, the park is a family favourite, with 150 campsites and prices ranging between $45-55 per night.

Ivy Lea

"Camping is like, it's memories," Steph said. "When you're just kind of sitting around a fire and just kind of laughing, it's your happy place."

Pratt noted the park team is expecting a busy summer with pandemic restrictions easing, and the provincial government offering a staycation tax credit on accommodations within Ontario.

"I think all of those things and more will help increase business and again I think there is a pent-up demand; people are looking to travel and get out," Pratt said. "Hopefully a lot of them travel still in province."

The 10 parks of the St. Lawrence campgrounds are separate from the Ontario park system, which can be booked up to five months in advance. Many of those sites have already been booked for early summer.

"(It's) first come first served and we do have a draw process for our seasonal campsites, but yes, it is busy," added Pratt. "But there's usually some space if you're patient and keep trying."

"You're outdoors, you're enjoying nature, it's a pretty beautiful place to be obviously," he said. "Everybody has a different experience. It's multi-generational. Some people have been coming for generations, or there's people that are just trying it for the first time."

Parks will open to campers on May 20, with beaches also opening for weekend use until June 24.

Pratt said the SLPC is also hiring multiple positions for the summer, including students, senior park workers, park rangers, and assistant park rangers.

For the Browns, they already have a list of their favourite campsites, and have their fingers crossed they will be able to snag one on Wednesday morning.

"Get on the site, get whatever you can take," Susie said.

Browns camping

The younger Brown also had some added advice for others attempting to book on Wednesday:

"Don't stay at Ivy Lea everybody! Go somewhere else and let me have my pick," she quipped with a laugh.

"We're so lucky to live in such a beautiful spot and have that a half hour up the road," added Susie. "I can't wait to see what spot we get this year."