Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kid Book reviews--more on Camping

After last week's book on camping was such a disappointment, I took a look at two more kids' camping books I found in our library. 

Kids Gone Campin': The Young Camper's Guide to Having More Fun OutdoorsFirst was a fairly slim book, Kids Gone Campin': The Young Campters Guide to Having More Fun Outdoors, by Cherie Winner.  Like the first book, this one falls at times into the trap of too much info for kids.  I think it does a better job of balancing info and writing style, however, largely by appearing to be written for older kids.  There were, however, a number of places where I took exception to the advice being given.  At times, as when discussing the camp kitchen, there was too much sense that there is only one right way.  I don't need two or three pots when backpacking.  We use a cooking style called Freezer Bag Cooking, and need only one pot.  And plastic dishes have always seemed to me better than the metal they advise, which gets too hot and then rapidly too cold.

Of greater concern were some errors affecting health and safety.  When talking about latrines (or cat holes, which despite the author, are NOT the same thing!), they recommend digging 100 feet from water.  Everyplace I have ever backpacked requires 200 feet.  Later, the discussion of campfires goes on far too long with no mention of checking regulations for your area.  Out West where the droughts get bad, fires are often far too hazardous to have outside of developed campgrounds (and sometimes even within them).  And above tree line, a fire is never appropriate.  Also, the author recommends dousing a fire "with dirt or water."  Wrong.  Only water.  "Smothering" a fire with dirt creates a great risk of merely insulating coals, not killing them.  Finally, hugely important: do NOT burn leftovers, as is recommended on p. 75.  Food seldom burns fully, and the remains in a fire pit can attract unwanted visitors.  Mice and racoons may not be so bad, but if you are in bear country, that could mean big trouble!

 2.5 stars, due to the bad advice.


Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide from the Backyard to the BackwoodsThe second book is Camp Out!  The Ultimate Kids' Guide From the Backyard to the Backwoods, by Lynn Brunelle.

This time I had to stifle my resentment at the beginning, because the author opens with the quote "All who wander are not lost," which is both not quite accurate (should be "not all those who wander are lost," but she attributes it to Shakespeare rather than Tolkien. However, this minor failure does not accurately reflect the quality of the book.

The book starts with the usual stuff, the how-to info key for any new hiker or camper, and mostly really for the grown-ups (with some sections highlighted as especially for the adults).  The format is clear and fun, and I could see any new hiker using this guide, regardless of age.

Later, the book gets into the good stuff (for kids): knots, camp-craft, a very good section on not getting lost and what to do if you get lots anyway, and camp food (which tends to require adult input but is still of great interest to most children).  This is written in a manner which I think makes it very accessible, with short factoid boxes, bits of humor, and generally clear explanations.  Finally, there are sections on weather, astronomy (complete with explanation of the Big Bang), naturalist experiments to try, crafts, and what to do in the car on the long drive to the trail.  It ends with stories and songs to learn and share for campfire entertainment.

I think that this is a book that has something to offer to pretty much any kid (and her parents) who wants to spend time in the outdoors.  I'll forgive the mangled quote.

4 stars.

FTC Disclosure: I checked out  Camp Out! and Kids Gone Campin' from my library and received nothing whatsoever from the authors or publishers in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own and no one else's.


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Get your  copy of A is for Alpine: An Alphabet Book for Little Hikers, my take on backpacking with small children (okay, it's a photo alphabet book with a backpacking theme) at Amazon, now in paperback!

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Note: I am posting automatically and will mostly be away from computers and the Internet this week, as I am off enjoying the outdoors with my family, so please be patient if I don't respond to comments right away.  I will get to you!

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