Most kids spend their school breaks hanging out with friends or binge-watching TV shows. But Aidan Campbell, now 18 and on her way to Yale University, is no ordinary teenager. She has spent her vacations in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There, she built a cabin in the wilderness, backpacked over mountains, and paddled down a dangerous river.
When Aidan was a young girl, her dad, James, told her stories about Alaska and his cousin who lives there. She made him promise to take her someday. When Aidan was 15, she finally went to Alaska to help her father and his cousin, Heimo Korth, build a cabin. She realized what hard work living in the wilderness could be.
“I was smack-dab in the middle of nowhere, 130 miles above the Arctic Circle and 70 miles from the nearest neighbor, living out of a tent with no one but my dad and Heimo for company,” says Aidan.
Despite the isolation, long workdays, and swarms of mosquitoes, Aidan learned to love Alaska’s vast wilderness. She returned twice, and on her last trip, she and her father embarked on their toughest journey yet: backpacking across the Brooks Range and paddling down the Hulahula River to the Arctic Ocean. James wrote a book about their adventures called Braving It.