An Alberta YouTuber made a recent return to his old Langford stomping grounds, but his chosen accommodation for the trip was about the last thing you would expect.
In a video posted on April 7, Steve Wallis documented his experience camping inside the roundabout on Langford Parkway in front of City Centre Park. For the more than 800,000 subscribers Steve Wallis has racked up since creating his eponymous channel in 2010, the adventure was to be expected.
“I try to come up with the most unique camping locations I can,” he said. “I started my YouTube channel years ago with more regular camping trips and they did fairly well, but all the videos started looking the same, so I knew I needed to spice it up somehow.”
That’s how he landed on the concept of “stealth camping” – camping in unorthodox and often technically unauthorized places and avoiding detection. It’s a recipe which seems to have caught on, especially during the pandemic.
His channel, which started simply as a way for him to preserve his personal videos after a string of computer failures, rapidly grew into Wallis’ full-time job, with fans the world over reaching out to let him know his videos have served as a welcome distraction from world events.
A gas fitter and furnace repairman by trade, he now makes videos of himself camping in everything from a U-Haul van parked on an industrial park, to an abandoned bunker or in wooded areas close to businesses.
“I’ve been looking for a roundabout for years, for the perfect roundabout to crawl into and camp in. Goldstream was my home location for a while, so I was familiar with the area and I knew that there would be a great location here.”
He had been looking to return to Greater Victoria for some time, to visit with family and friends and to film videos in what he describes as “some of the best wilderness around,” but the pandemic and last winter’s flooding and highway washouts got in the way.
“The natural beauty and excellent landscaping in Langford really made this possible. It took me all of 10 minutes driving through town to find the most beautiful stealth camping location I have seen, possibly ever.”
In his video, seen by some 261,000 people a day after it was posted – as of Monday (April 11) that number was over 677,000 – Wallis dons a high-visibility vest in an effort to look like he belongs in the middle of a roundabout, hides his camping equipment in a garbage bag and crawls into the thick bushes during a break in traffic. Throughout the night spent inside the bushes, Wallis comes close to being discovered several times, but makes it to morning in the end.
As always, he makes a point of cleaning up any trash he finds at the site before he leaves, living up to his philosophy of always leaving a camp site in better condition than he found it – even in centre of a roundabout.
Wallis never camps where signage prohibits camping or trespassing, but said many of his stealth sites are subject to municipal rules.
“Every municipality has its bylaws regarding camping outside of campgrounds, or being on public property outside certain hours of the day. It’s typically a fine if they decide to pursue it, more likely they will just tell you to move along.”
While he is careful not to spoil any details of his upcoming videos, Wallis said he is spending some time on Vancouver Island, and local fans can expect to see some more familiar sites.