My daughter’s dad and I started taking our daughters for Dempster Highway camping adventures around 1991, and the magic and fun times of those trips stayed with them,  helping them to become independent and adventurous souls.

Here is an excerpt from my daughter Rachel’s 2001 essay, called “True Tracks,” that shows the kind of fun the girls had during these trips – and the lasting memories.

“The summer when I completed Grade 1, my family started going to the Tombstone Campground on the Dempster Hwy. for a few weeks at a time. My dad had gotten a contract to run the Interpretive Centre there. My mother, my sister and I would go up for a trip a couple of times during July and August. These were some of the best times of my younger years.

“We had many favourite places to play. One was the two culverts that ran under the highway. At the time we were small enough that we could walk through them easily. One of the culverts had a stream running through it and the other was empty, except during run off. We would race things through and make forts in them.

“The stream was also a popular place for us. The stream flowed to the North Klondike River, and we would often walk all the way down to where the stream met the river. We would make forts in the mud for our toys and little rafts with the Swiss army knives our dad bought us.”

Our other daughter, Kirsten, is sharing the same independent and adventurous attributes with her children, Darwin and Aria.

The May long weekend was the beginning of the 2016 camping season for the Pattimore-Murray family. While Kirsten loves the tent life of camping, she and husband, Avery, decided on a small travel trailer last year. It will be especially nice – she thinks – to have a hard shell over the camp on longer road trips.

The week before heading off Kirsten spent a few minutes each evening preparing camp food. She cut vegetables and prepared ground beef for spaghetti sauce. She packaged flour mix for pancakes. The little kids love camp pancakes and bacon for breakfast in the open air.

The little kids had their pre-camp chores, as well. Each has a trailer closet (under the bed tote). Darwin and Aria helped pack camp clothes and a few toys in their closets. Kirsten plans to keep the trailer closets filled with clean clothes in preparation for future trips. A few camp games and craft supplies were packed – for quiet times around the camp fire.

Destination? Takhini Hot Springs Campground. It is close to town, but not too close. The wilderness beckons on the edge of community. They travelled with another family. Other families they know were there as well, and the children became fast campground friends.

A great hike is easy to find at that campground, with markers and inukshuks taking the hiker up into the mountains. The view of the Takhini River Valley at the top is spectacular. The hike took the group about 1 ½ hours with stops along the way for water and snacks.

Kirsten loves being outside. She loves watching her children and their independence around camp. Her Dempster Highway adventures with her sister from years past are colouring her parenting skills in 2016.