Cottage Guide

The Social Cottage | Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse

Don’t own your own getaway? No matter! Our 4-part series explores unique retreats, be that sipping a fine vintage, doing battle with zombie hordes, seeking nirvana or something deep in the woods

Zombie Survival Camp, Bancroft

Be prepared. With the goal of making Canada the most zombie-prepared country on Earth, the instructors at Zombie Survival Camp are hell-bent on getting campers ready for the inevitable onslaught of brain-devouring undead. After putting you through your paces in training sessions on wilderness survival, self-defence, first aid, weapons, and military tactics, they’ll unleash a flood of zombies so that you can put your new knowledge to good use.

Harness your inner boy (or girl) scout. Maybe your parents signed you up for ballet instead of scouts as a child — or maybe you just loved those delightful slippers too much to quit — but it’s not too late to learn how to build a shelter in the forest without using tools or a fire without matches. Even if Armageddon fails to materialize, these basic wilderness survival skills could save your life — or someone else’s — if you ever end up stranded.

Defend yourself. There doesn’t have to be a zombie apocalypse for self-defence training to be useful. Zombie Survival Camp’s hand-to-(rotting)-hand combat sessions draw from jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, and … parkour?  If you want to know, you’ll have to go.

Fight for the right to survive. Zombies are dispatched far too easily on The Walking Dead, at least according to Dominic Etynkowski, weapons trainer at Zombie Survival Camp. A specialist in bladed weapons and trained in the Filipino martial art of Bakbakan-Kali Ilustrisimo, Etynkowski is famous for his lessons on proper machete-wielding technique — a perennial favourite among campers.

Prepare for the worst. The doomsday-prepper movement can come across as absurd at times, but we should all be prepared for a disaster, whether it’s an ice storm that temporarily mangles our electrical grid or a global zombification plague that threatens to undermine the very existence of human civilization. Here, you get a crash course in disaster preparedness that entertains while tackling a topic with serious implications.

Pop your culture. Other getaways might encourage you to unplug in the wilderness, but you’ll have more fun at this “retreat” if you’re up to speed on the latest episodes of The Walking Dead and are able to distinguish between ultra-quick World War Z zombies and the comically plodding ones that surround the Winchester in Shaun of the Dead.

Get Connected. Zombie Survival Camp happens only a few weekends each year, but they keep the community going year-round through their 12,000-member Facebook page and such events as the ZomProm, a zombie-themed Halloween party at the camp’s off-season headquarters near Toronto. Brain and non-brain diets accommodated.

Be a kid at camp all over again. Despite the apocalyptic overtones, Zombie Survivor Camp doesn’t take place in some gritty, semi-abandoned wasteland but at idyllic Camp Can-Aqua. Located on 160 acres of wooded land edging quiet Beaver Lake near Bancroft, it’s a regular slice of Canadian cottage country with cabins and canoes and has not been overrun by zombies. Yet.

If not here, then … Already have your zombie apocalypse survival plan in place? Other unique summer camp options for grown-ups include the Jamboree LGBTQ Summer Camp near Algonquin, Camp Hotbox’s Ganja Getaway somewhere in the Muskokas, and the Canadian Adventure Camp close to North Bay.