Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids

About the Book:
For parents of young children looking for a supremely economical family vacation, camping is the way to go: no matter where you live, you can pack up the car and drive to a campground, often in less than an hour—with a week's worth of campsite fees totaling less than one night in a nice hotel. But while today's generation of parents may have backpacked through India and shot class IV rapids in Idaho (or seldom strayed from their office cubicle), when it comes to the thought of changing a diaper in a tent at midnight—much less amassing, organizing, and packing the requisite kid gear—anxiety and trepidation can easily set in.

This book, by a seasoned camper and a mother of three, is a humorous and often irreverent introductory guide to camping with kids, from babies to pre-teens. Eschewing the encyclopedic, author Helen Olsson writes from a parent's point of view, giving readers a clear plan—and plenty of encouragement—for an enjoyable family camping experience.

The book covers basics like choosing a destination, packing gear and food, setting up the campsite, planning menus, and keeping safe, all with an emphasis on the needs and concerns of parents with younger children. Each chapter features checklists, including "Little Tykes" lists dedicated to items for babies and toddlers. Other features include stand-alone tip boxes and sidebars on topics like renting gear, the best high-tech and natural clothing fabrics, "Top 5 Ways to Curb Whining," and the ever-important etiquette for pottying in the woods. A section on camping activities includes detailed arts and craft projects for kids, with materials lists and illustrated step-by-step instructions. The book focuses on car camping, with the last section covering alternate ways to camp: backpacking, canoe/kayak trips, hut camping, and trips with pack animals.

Like a trusted friend (albeit one who can haul a 30-pound toddler in a sled on a winter hut-camping trip), Olsson shares first-person anecdotes and lessons learned over years of camping with her family. With its authentic, can-do voice and contemporary design, The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids will appeal not only to first-time campers but to veteran campers befuddled by the challenges of carting their brood into the woods.

My Comments:
I'm a Girl Scout leader and I love to take my girls camping.  That being said, I love Girl Scout camps--they come equipped with cabins and platform tents and fully equipped kitchens.  It makes for a lot less stuff to haul.  However, when NetGalley offered this book, I thought I'd take a look, hoping I could find some ideas to use with my girls.  I got a few ideas for campfire desserts (mostly different versions of s'mores) and for games.  I despise crafts but could probably even pull off some from this book.

In short, if you have every considered tent camping with your family, this book is just the encouragement you   need to take the plunge, or the reality check you need to convince you that the money for the hotel room is well spent.  Grade:  B+


  1. Thank you all. It was very useful for me. That's what I wanted.

  2. Anonymous11:39 AM

    I am going to have to check out that guide to camping book. I am sure I will get some pretty good tips but I unfortunately am not a camping chick. My husband keeps bugging me to go but I love all my tech gadgets and couldn't part with them. He even got me a Tailgater so I can watch TV anywhere I want too. He is planning a big camping trip this summer and he wants me to go, he even asked a few of my co-workers at Dish to join us so we shall see.


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