Family camping is like the third evolution of camping (after being taken out to Algonquin Park with my parents) … at least it is for me anyways.

My first evolution of camping involved figuring out how to fit the maximum amount of beer and people in the Tercel.

Comfort wasn’t an issue, I wasn’t going to be feeling much at night anyways.

The second, and more positive evolution of camping, involved careful planning to fit all the food/shelter and bear safety equipment possible for multiple days in the back country in a 35-pound pack.

Family camping is a completely different animal involving completely different challenges and goals.

Comfort wins out and, really, less your comfort than the comfort of the kids.

The first unsuspecting challenge we faced was one we expected, but was greatly amplified by the uniqueness of the Yukon summer night.

There isn’t one.

The kids don’t want to go to sleep until well after it’s dark, which means September, which isn’t going to make for a cheerful morning.

I can still remember watching the two bumps (Ben and Emily’s heads) moving along the outside of our tent at 2 a.m. while we waited for the kids to finally go to sleep.

Suitable separation was an unexpected challenge we faced as well. Two kids will either get along all to well and find incredible mischief to get into together … or get along all too unwell, interrupting the calm and tranquillity that is the goal of a camping trip.

Food to satisfy the masses. Kids never eat well at the best of times and their inconsistent requirements for food mean packing for multiple options … this will definitely put a family over that 35-pound limit mentioned earlier.

All of these multiple demands make the first camping trip of the year an important and sometimes treacherous one. One year will see an almost complete change in the needs of the kids, especially at ages 6 and 8.

This means that everything you thought you needed last year is certain not to satisfy the requirement this year. Half of it can be left behind, but only to make room for the new load of as yet undetermined kit and tackle.

We generally make our first camping trip someplace very convenient and close to home. Something that affords a great deal of comfort on its own with amenities like playgrounds, parks, attendants who can provide necessities like matches or a hatchet or some ice cream for the kids. Something that allows us the opportunity to spin quickly home to pick up that sleeping bag/breakfast cereal/stuffed animal/critical toy.

Our first camping trip of the year this year, as last year, will be at the Robert Service Campground. And while we’ll try to remain completely independent in all parts of the trip, I will still slip over to the store at the campground for some Midnight Sun Coffee in the morning.

If you are in town for the weekend, stop by and say hello, we may need to borrow a …

PHOTO: TAMMY BEESE