Check It Out: Camping with kids can be 'Down and Dirty' good time

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photoJan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.
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It's that time of year when a sun-filled day gets everyone thinking about outdoor activities. No more being cooped up inside waiting for a break from a weeklong rain event. No more months of hibernation. We're heading outside, no bones about it!

For those of you with kids, this time of year also means school is almost out. And Mom and Dad, you know what that means. Lots of free time. Keeping the little ones busy during summer break can be challenging if not exhausting. Now, taking the family on a camping trip might not sound like a good option for parents just trying to maintain their sanity until school starts up again. In fact, I can imagine some of you are shaking your heads right now, muttering, "Crazy idea. Plain crazy." But if you have plenty of time to prepare for the trip, perhaps some of the potential camping chaos can be eliminated.

According to this week's enlightening title, "The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids," one of the most important factors to consider when planning a camping trip is the weather. Fortunately, it's the month of May, which means we're on the fast track to summer, which also means the weather shouldn't be much of a problem. But if the idea of winter camping sounds interesting, don't attempt it with small children, advises author Helen Olsson. Another important thing to think about is whether or not you want your camping trip to be a "mobcation." Defined as camping with other families, a mobcation has its advantages and disadvantages. More people means more adults to look after the offspring, and more offspring bring greater playing opportunities for bored little ones. But, if you and your family find it hard to spend quality time together, camping with a "mob" might not be the best idea.

Once you've decided when to go, where to go, and who to go with (or not), you're ready to proceed with camping preparations, and ultimately, camping enjoyment! Read this funny and wise book to learn what camping gear to take on your trip, how to prepare your campsite and cook up tasty camp grub, how to keep little campers entertained with fun physical activities, games, and arts and crafts, and, very important, the ins and outs of camping safety.

With the help of this book, family togetherness in the great outdoors doesn't have to lead to insanity. Getting close to nature can be great, campy fun.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.