After some deliberation, I've come up with my Top 3. All deal with the outdoors, though in different ways, and all are books I'd highly recommend. Though you may think that one or two of them are more for a younger set, I believe that if you haven't read them yet, screw the age limit, and read them anyways. They're that good.
BOOK 1: THE VARIOUS BY STEVE AUGARDE
I read this entire book nestled up in a chair in my backyard in the sixth grade, and only when the sun was setting. I felt it lent the book a certain magic. This book isn't about the outdoors the same way the other books are, in the way that it deals with a girl, rather than a boy, and involves mythical creatures, like pixies and sprites and fairies, instead of the all-too-real dangers of the actual world. However, the story does include the woods behind this girl's house, so I feel it is worthy to make this list. The story always reminds me that there are things lurking in the trees that we don't know exist, and that nature has secrets of its own. Perfect things to remember when it's two o'clock in the morning, you're stuck in your tent with only a flashlight and a sleeping bag, and you can't remember which path leads to the camp bathrooms.
BOOK 2: MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN BY JEAN CRAIGHEAD GEORGEI love this book. I originally got it in the second grade, read it, and promptly decided I was going to run away into the woods like the main character, leaving this shallow world behind for a natural lifestyle. The only reason my plans were thwarted were because a) I didn't know where to find any woods, and b) my parents are too observant. These crushed dreams haven't stopped me from revisiting this book series many times in my life, and wishing I could live like Sam. This is a perfect book for anyone going on a camping trip, especially if they are in elementary or middle school. How I envy anyone reading this book for the first time. And do you want to know a secret? Up until last year, I buried this book at the bottom of my camping kit every trip, just so I could use it as a sort of manual if I ever got lost in a forest.
BOOK 3: INTO THE WILD BY JON KRAKAUERIf assigned reading during the school year has the power to ruin books for high schoolers forever, you'd think that a book assigned for summer reading would only double the destructive power. However, this book was assigned to me last year, and it changed my life forever! This book is amazing. Everyone should be required to read this spectacular nonfiction book, the doomed journey of Chris McCandless into nature. This is an incredibly powerful one and I'm only repeating how fantastic it is because I feel like I have to really get the point across. Just, please, please, please, read it.
So there are my Top 3. All three great, and all have journeyed onto campsites with me sometime in the past. Now I've still got to find which books are coming with me this time...