The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature (Paperback)

The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids: How to Plan Memorable Family Adventures and Connect Kids to Nature By Helen Olsson Cover Image
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2024 NAPPA Award winner

The revised and updated edition of the bestselling guidebook that equips parents with all the confidence they need to embark on and enjoy the ultimate outdoor activity with their kids: camping.

Written by a seasoned camper, adventurer, and  mother of three, this book is a practical, irreverent introductory guide to all things camping.

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. Whether you’re planning a simple outing, a multiday trek with babies or teens, or camping with several families, Down and Dirty has you covered. 

Each chapter features helpful checklists, including “Little Tykes” lists dedicated to items for babies and toddlers. The book focuses on car camping but nods to alternate ways to camp: backpacking, pull-behind campers, canoe/kayak trips, hut camping, and trips with pack animals.

The second edition is updated to reflect the latest products, outdoor etiquette, and lifestyles. You’ll have guidance on: 
  • choosing a destination 
  • packing gear and food
  • setting up the campsite
  • planning menus
  • and staying safe

This timeless camping resource addresses the myriad unique needs and concerns of parents and children.

About the Author

Helen Olsson is a freelance travel and skiing writer and a regular contributor to the New York Times Travel and Escapes sections, where she writes about family outdoor and adventure travel. Among the camping trips she's chronicled are llama-trekking in Colorado's backcountry and a canoe-and-kayak trip in the Niobrara River Valley of Nebraska—both taken with three children under nine. Visit her at

Praise For…

“For the uninitiated—or else panicked—Boulder-based freelance writer and New York Times contributor Olsson offers this thorough and accessible guide that covers all the bases. From slathering cotton balls in petroleum jelly as firestarters (love it!) to freezing stews ahead of time and letting them double as ice packs, Olsson has you covered. This would make a lovely addition to a display on summer adventures and is enthusiastically recommended for all public libraries. Bring on the dirt.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Olsson provides a comprehensive guide to car camping with children, from infants to preteens. Through her extensive advice, greenhorn parents will quickly evolve into knowledgeable campers, capable of offering their children rewarding experiences in nature that will last a lifetime.”
ForeWord Reviews

“A treasure trove of information and ideas that would be a fine addition to any camper’s bookshelf. The author’s conversational, first-person approach feels like a chat with a friendly neighbor. Her well-crafted prose is sprinkled with a humor that parents will particularly appreciate.”
The Deseret News

“This book is an incredible resource for families just beginning their outdoor adventuring.”
Eco Child’s Play

“I love the author because she is a mother herself, as well as a very organized one!  Perhaps the most appealing parts of the book are the numerous checklists. The illustrations are clean and simple and they fit with the whole retro theme of the book. Perfect for your kids to browse and learn from. Olssen makes it easy for busy moms and dads to plan, pack, and execute an amazing camping weekend.”
Natural Family Today

“The book is packed with enough detail to allow someone who has never camped in their life to venture confidently into the woods, but even veteran backcountry campers will find plenty of useful tips on everything from first aid to making camp.”
The Daily Camera

“If you’re like me, no matter how much you plan, the Wing It factor always comes into play when you go camping with children. But now there's a book that can help you tame the chaos of mushing your whole family and a ridiculous mountain of gear into a single tent. You won’t find a more comprehensive how-to on the subject than The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping With Kids. Olsson leads you through practically every decision you need to make—from where and when to go, to what to bring (less than you think), to what to cook (single best compendium of s’mores recipes ever), and how to keep the kids out of your hair (berry paints! photo safaris!). Because it’s so sensible, the guide is great for everyone, from seasoned backcountry veterans who want to learn a few new shortcuts to families that have never once set up a tent or banged a stake into the ground. Olsson’s tone is chipper yet informative, and never condescending. The book is crammed with handy packing checklists, simple but clever camp recipes, and lots of genuinely helpful advice, like always bring your bikes and orient your tent door to the best view.”
Outside Magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9781645470939
ISBN-10: 1645470938
Publisher: Roost Books
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English