When one thinks of the great outdoors, it’s relaxing. Picture it: birds trilling overhead, a brook babbling in the distance, and the wind blowing around crowds of trees. Now, these three YA books about camping focus more on surviving in nature in a less relaxing way. One might call the experiences stressful. These teens are not having a calm time in the woods managing difficult relationships and navigating the wilderness. Nevertheless, I do recommend all three books.
Sometimes you want a book that deals with a human versus nature conflict. An external conflict with the elements can supplement satisfying internal character development in YA lit. Teens not only deal with emotional disasters destroying their lives, but they also overcome nature trying to kill them. It can be very fun to read.
I compiled a list of YA books involving different levels of camping, on a sliding scale of difficulty from easy to medium to hard. For example, a hard difficulty rating will be a book about a lifelong doomsday prepper who can survive with a can of beans and a shoestring. An easy difficulty rating will be about a casual summer camp in the woods with camping supplies and counselor supervision. It is time to pitch up your tents and enjoy these three YA books about camping:
Difficulty Level: Hard
Prepped by Bethany Mangle
Content Warnings: Death of a Parent, Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Child Abuse
When you grow up in a community of doomsday preppers, you are always prepared for the worst. After her training on how to deal with hypothermia, fighting fires, and radiation poisoning, Becca Aldaine is ready to survive just about anything. Her parents have arranged her future job, home, and husband. Just a few problems with the whole plan: she is not a doomsday believer, she doesn’t want to marry an enthusiastic prepper like Roy Kang, and most of all, she wants to leave it all behind as soon as she earns a full ride to college for Physics. But, when a devastating accident threatens her father’s life, her plans are put on pause. Becca cannot leave her younger sister behind, even as she begins to believe in doomsday. With her future on the rocks, she turns to Roy only to discover his enthusiasm is an act. Roy is ready to escape alongside her, but will they be able to leave their prepped future behind for the one they want?
Difficulty Level: Medium
The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park
Content Warnings: Emotional Abuse by a Parent, Death of a Parent, Racism
If someone offered a fortune for winning a weekend-long survivalist competition with the crush you cannot fall for, would you say yes? Nate Jae-Woo Kim is a Korean-American scholarship kid at a local private school who just wants to support his family. As a top student, entrepreneur, and escape room employee, he is on his way. Kate Anderson is the daughter of a rich tech mogul who is currently controlling every aspect of her life from her physical whereabouts to her cell phone usage. She needs cash pronto if she wants to escape to New York and pursue her dreams. While working at a local zombie-themed escape room, the two meet and realize they are both looking for economic freedom. Luckily, they can team up for a survivalist competition and win enough cash to get them started.
Difficulty Level: Easy
CAMP by L. C. Rosen
Content Warnings: Death of a Caregiver, Homophobia, Homophobic Slurs, Emotional Abuse by a Parent
Randy Kapplehoff loves Camp Outland, where queer teens can experience fun camp activities, including his beloved annual musical production. He loves his fellow actors, his director, and the whole process of putting together a show, but this year is different. Randy decides this year he will return to camp as Del, a masculine version of himself that will appeal to his longtime crush, Hudson. Randy is fine with changing his personality to take on the role of Del if it brings him closer to Hudson, but as his plan falls into place, he begins to doubt the efficacy of his plan. How can you fall in love when your personality is an act?
With summer around the corner, I hope these YA books about camping can appropriately prepare you for outdoor activities. If you want to be meta, I would highly recommend reading them while camping. Of course, you could also read from the safety of your favorite couch. Either way, these picks will let you experience nature at three levels of difficulty from a safe distance. Good Luck!