Doing and enjoying different camping activities for kids are some of the best to do by any family because they are fun ways of bonding, learning and relaxing and are great means of going away from the usual day-in and day-out lives, not to mention distractions, including computer games, television and mobile devices.
So if your family is up to getting your gears packed going to the campsite this weekend, however, thinking of the activities to do might become your biggest challenge but not if you would be able to plan and list down all those activities before going.
Build a campfire
Have you ever seen a camp without campfire? Probably you did, but most unlikely. Well, it is said to be one of the most important components of camping because it does not only provide light, but also give warmth and protection and lets you cook in the site (backyard or any place you go camping).
Campfires are also crucial when teaching children about fire safety, as most of them love to play with fire. To start off, let your kids help in building and putting out the campfire, as they also enjoy this important responsibility you would entrust them with, but remind them not to do it without your supervision for their safety. See our piece on how to build smokeless fire to help you.
Let’s begin by gathering some firewood only those to find on the ground. Do not break off live branches or cut a tree because fresh wood does not burn well. And then find the fire pit in the campsite (as many of them have some installed); otherwise, you can clear a small area and start digging a shallow pit (which you should ring around with some rocks).
Put a pile of dry tinder, which can be composed of pine needles or pocket lint, in the pit. Alternatively, you can use kindling when building a small box around the tinder and then using a long campfire match to light it while you are gently blowing it until it catches fire. Start adding fuel once it is burning. [Reminder: Never leave fire unattended and have a bucketful of water beside it ready].
Games for kids in camping
Now that you have just taught your kids how to build and set up the campfire, you can start playing games with them. The following sections are a couple of the most interesting camping games for kids that we’ve collected for you. Get your pen and paper ready to list down some of these games before you pack for camping this weekend. Check out our list of the best hunting activities go keep the kids happy and engaged.
Catch the bunny (a small rubber ball)
Get a small rubber ball, as the bunny, and get all players, as the catchers, ready. Start passing the ball around, and then after a couple of seconds, get and toss in another ball (the farmer) to pass around as well. This ‘farmer’ wants to catch the rabbit. If you were holding the bunny and the farmer catches up with it, you are out of the game. Another suggestion to make this game even more fun is to have the small rubber ball (rabbit) go around only in one direction and the other ball (farmer) travel around any direction to catch the rabbit.
Hop and crawl
If you were camping in the backyard, turn it into a great obstacle course with things in it—the paraphernalia! With this game, you can instruct kids to leap over your garden hose, crawl under a table, perform a lap around flower beds, hop through hula hoop and then back at the start. Group the kids so that they could race against each other.
Do some arts and crafts
When packing, don’t forget to bring some art supplies, including markers, scissors, art papers, glue and pad paper so that you can make some arts and crafts during camping.
Ask every kid to sketch things nature or help them with making pieces of art using pine cones, shells, sand, leaves and all other stuff to find in the campsite.
Most kids love this game when outdoors because they are able to scavenge items, including pine cones, oak leaves, rocks, nails and so many more. You can also ask them to do a scavenger hunt by team wherein each player will stick with a small group or with a friend (when camping with neighbors or with their classmates or in groups other than your family).
Each team should have their compasses, cloth bags/plastics and watches and should have a small clipboard with a pen to monitor their checklists. That’s it! Let them find those items and punish the losing team (Perhaps, let them do the cooking that night or roast the marshmallows).
Play squirrel tag
You can act as the squirrel catcher and the rest are squirrels that each clings on a tree (but lawn chairs will also help if you were in the yard). When you shout, “Squirrel scramble,” the players will dash to another tree (not their own tree), but will have to avoid being tagged. The player who gets tagged is the new squirrel catcher.
Campfire story contest
Well, guess what? Yes, storytelling is not just an activity before bedtime when at home, but it could also be a fun camping activity your kids, who are natural storytellers, will love to do.
To play this game, start with the first two to three sentences of the story and then let the next player continue it and the next until the story finishes. You can think of any story or use any of your kid’s anecdote or family story.
You can hide a prize, such as a plastic bag full of chocolates in the campsite or backyard, and then challenge your kids to find this prize. Say, “It’s getting lighter” if they are getting near the place where you have hidden the loot bag, or “It’s getting darker” if they are moving too far away from it.
Camping won’t be complete and so would the activities if they won’t be able to belt out some songs. Ask everyone to sing their favorite song, although he or she does not have to carry a tune. Let everyone be the judge and whoever wins gets a pack of S’mores.
Because we’ve introduced singing, why not also include dancing? You can gather everyone, each around his chair, and then start turning up the music to get everyone dancing. Get the littlest member of the group stand up, dance and tap every member on the head. The one he or she taps should start boogying, and when the dance leader says “Dance off,” people should start dancing fast, but when he or she says, “Dance over,” they should rush to their seats. The person to sit down the last becomes the new leader.
Definitely some of the best games to play with kids when camping, Olympics are great for testing their athletic ability, leadership and teamwork. There are so many games to choose from, and some include relay races and long jump games.
You can also group people and have them play the tug of war, one of the most interesting games to play when camping. If you were on a sandy beach, you can also play long jump games, volleyball and swimming—name it. Let the games begin! Don’t forget listing down all Olympic activities you have in mind before camping because some of them also require some materials or tools to use, such as measuring tape (long jump), volleyball and whistle, among others.
Kids love scary stories, and so love scary, ghostly games, too! This game is like tag but with a little twist. Assign someone to act as the ghost to hide while everyone is waiting on the base and counting. All the players will count one o’clock, two o’clock…until 12 o’clock, and then they will shout “Midnight!”
The players will look around and search for the ghost in the backyard. The one who spots him cries out “Ghost in the backyard,” and then everyone will go running back to the base, while the ghost is running after the players. Whoever the ghost tags will join him to become another ghost, and then the game resumes until everyone gets caught by the ghosts to fill the graveyard.
Form two teams and have each with a pitcher of water and small paper cups each person. At the start of the game, every team races to transfer the water from their bucket into the pool, but ask them to use only the small cups to do it. The first team to empty their bucket wins.
Cloud watching, a meditative camping activity for kids
In a clear afternoon sky in the campsite, find a good, shady spot where you can spread out a blanket and stare at the sky together. You can play a game with these clouds by finding some shapes, animals or anything you could think of.
Alternatively, you can just all lie down on the blanket while you were holding a nature guidebook and teaching them about nature (mountain, lakes, etc), something they might have been curious about, such as names of plants, places and animals.
Having had played a couple of games, you and the rest of the gang might now be so hungry, but of course, you got no time to cook those time-consuming meals anymore. Do read our article on the best hiking food to give you more information.
Here are some quick meals to prepare and enjoy at the campsite.
- Try some grilled nachos, which are not only quick meals but they can be prepared by your kids, too. You can give each of them a handful of tortilla chips in an aluminum foil. Let them choose from black beans, black olives, diced tomatoes, grated cheddar and avocado. They can make corners in the aluminum foil to make a pouch before they grill their nachos until the cheese melts.
- Make strawberry lemonade with the use of a blender to make strawberry puree. Get two or three cups of this puree and pour it into a pitcher. Then add in two cups of water and two cups of lemon juice, and then stir. Make sugar syrup by putting some into a saucepan and bringing it to a boil before adding into the pitcher when dissolved. Let it cool.
- Grilled cheese sandwiches are also favorite meals when camping. All you have to do is to cut the sandwiches and then stand them up on plates. Form a tent of sandwiches by securing them with a toothpick on each of their end. You can also create a campfire by adding some French fries topped with ketchup beside the sandwich tent.
- Make some banana splits! You can prepare this kid’s favorite meal in the afternoon by combining one-third cup of brown sugar with three tablespoons of butter. Mix them well until they’re crumbly. Then, you can start adding a cup of granola and mix them together before setting aside. Split the bananas lengthwise with its skin still on. Put each of them on a foil and then start stuffing with the granola mixture you made earlier. Have each of your kid grill their banana split on fire for about 10 minutes.
- Marshmallows dipped into chocolate sauce with crushed graham crackers. All you need to do is to warm up chocolate sauce and pour it on a plate, and then crush some graham cracker to add into it. Have your kids roast their mallows before dipping into this sweet, delicious chocolate sauce with graham. Enjoy!
Check out our review of the best camping table for more information.
Camping games rules
Mom, remember to participate in the games because your kids would appreciate that you are active, and therefore, they would become more engaged in the games, as you are, too. Additionally, always implement and facilitate equal playing actions for all the participants. Remember that active participants are more likely to dominate the games, while the less athletic ones are more likely to stay in the sidelines.
As much as possible, keep everyone active and participative in all the games. And by saying that means you should find a way on how to keep the activities dynamic and moving for giving everyone an equal and quality time to play.
In camping games for children, scoring is not that always important, so do not stress yourself too much about it, especially when you are not able to keep the scores. What matters is that you make sure that every game is fun and all the players enjoy it. You should also put less focus on ‘losing/winning’ but more on making the games fun and keeping everyone active. Nevertheless, this is supposed to be an exciting, fun-filled camping with the family or with fellow campers, so don’t put too much emphasis on the ‘scores.’
You can also change the rules of the game, as needed or when you want to make particular activity even more fun, less serious, creating more interesting activities everyone will enjoy and will feel less stressed. For instance, why not run the bases backwards? Well, that’s one suggestion, but you can come up with as many ways as you wish to reinvent the games.
Part of things to remember is including all sorts of games for all physical activity levels because every group is composed of members with varying physical activity levels, too.
Be consistent in terms of encouraging fair play, teamwork and sportsmanship by setting the tone from the start. You should remember that all games have to reflect the values of the camp and that all of them have to be fun. You can set ground rules for less active games like only giving positive comments and not name calling. You can also stop the game while everyone else is having fun rather when everyone is starting to argue with each other. (The way the game ends is how the players are likely to remember it).
Additionally, you should let the children lead the games, but you have to make sure you are giving an equal opportunity for everyone to take the place of a leader. You should also set boundaries and explain the rules properly to help children build self-confidence and self-esteem and become independent.
A checklist of what to bring in camping with kids
- Camping toys
- Cot bunk beds
- Foam floor tiles
- First aid kit
- Family tent
- A large umbrella
- Antibacterial hand wipes
- Walking sticks
- Mason jars
- Glow in the dark bubbles, glow sticks
- Sleeping bag for kids
- Scavenger hunt supplies
- Sunscreen, bug-and-mosquito repellant lotion, itch-stopping spray
- Arts and crafts supplies
- Hand washing station
- Dryer sheets
- Camp map or layout
- Portable high chair
- A few chairs
- And all other materials/tools you deem important
*This is not a complete list but only an overview of the items people bring when camping.
By now you probably have a clear idea of some fun activities to do with kids when camping, but you can come up with more of them, certainly. Best advice when deciding on what games to play and what activities to do may be based on several factors, including physical activity level of participants as well as their interests, age and skills. But in general, you just have to make sure that everyone enjoys the camping activities and that each is able to have a day filled with memories of entertainment and fun!