Camping with Kids: A How-to Guide A review of The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids by Helen Olsson

camping with kids' width=Planning a camping trip this fall with young ones in tow but hesitant as to how you’ll pull it off? The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature by Helen Olsson (Roost Books) is here to guide you through the process from planning, to setting up camp, to making meals and keeping kids entertained. The book recommends early fall (and late spring) as an ideal time for camping since it can be “less buggy and still pretty mild.” The book is full of “Smart Tips” (i.e.: “Stash a headlamp or small flashlight in your pocket before the sun sets”) and innovative ideas, such as “Bring a half dozen little glow sticks. Before bed, the kids can play with them (light show!). Then tuck the sticks into the tent’s mesh pockets, where they’ll give off a soft comforting glow.” (We recommend LED, chemical-free glow sticks which are good for up to 200 hours, available at

For the many once-in-a-while camping families, there are options like renting a tent from the site, and lots of info about the ever-important questions of what to eat and how to cook it. Olsson breaks down the pros and cons of camp stoves, and writes that if you do plan to cook over a fire, “be sure to bring an old pot. The bottom will be black with soot by the time your water boils.” And don’t forget the pot lifter, which allows you to safely pick up a pot of boiling water sans mitts. All in all, this guide is packed with wisdom and enough to give the uninitiated the confidence to foray into the woods for an evening or two, kids and all.