Taking a family camping trip is a great way to bond with your kids, especially if you have plenty of fun games and other activities planned to keep them engaged, and ultimately, to wear them out! Even if you don’t have kids, planning a few fun activities can help make for a memorable outdoor excursion with your friends and loved ones.
There are tons of inexpensive things to do outdoors for people of all ages, but of course the most fun can be had just sitting back and taking in the scenery.
Planning activities that your children will enjoy is a key element to keep them interested in camping, and to ensure that they will always want to go back. Relaxing in the woods and observing nature can be an educational and fun experience for all ages, but have some games ready just in case.
Whether your family is just starting out camping, or you’re looking to freshen up your outdoor adventures, read through this list of fun camping games and entertainment ideas that will help make some amazing memories on your next trip into nature!
Plan One Main Daytime Activity
Try to get to your campsite early enough that you can get the tent set up, arrange your gear, and still have time to leave camp and get some exercise. It’s always fun to explore the area around your campsite, and getting a good workout ensures that everyone will either take a nap, or sleep well that night.
Go For a Hike
By far the easiest and cheapest activity you can all do together is to go for a hike. Tailor your hike to your family’s abilities, and be sure to pack a map, plenty of snacks, and water.
Consider adding in a nature scavenger hunt to really dial up the engagement!
Take a Bike Ride
If you have a bike rack, bringing the family’s bikes on your trip is a great way to go farther and see more sites in the area where you are camping. In addition to a map, snacks, and drinks, be sure to pack a tire repair kit.
If you don’t have a bike rack or vehicle that can accommodate all of your bicycles, see if you can rent them from somewhere nearby
Play on a Water Trampoline
If you’re camped by a lake, you can’t go wrong with a water trampoline. These big-ticket items can be spendy, so consider going in on one with your neighbors or family friends. Newer foam water mats and kayaks are also a great way to get exercise, or just relax on the water.
It’s also always a good idea to bring a football, a frisbee, or something else to toss around the camp to burn off energy. Depending on your kid’s interests, bringing a camera or some books can be a fun way to bond while experiencing nature as well.
Games to Play Around Camp
After going on an adventure, head back to your campsite to take a breather and get some refreshments. Get ready for more fun, though, because there are tons of awesome games to play around the campground.
Cornhole, or bean bag toss, is the quintessential camping game. Even if you don’t bring the wooden boards and corn-filled bags, you will likely have neighbors that will happily challenge you to a game.
Squirt Gun Fight
Having a few squirt guns can be a blast around a campsite, where there’s plenty of room to run around, and usually plenty of trees to hide behind. Of course, this is an activity that is only good for a summer day, and remember to be mindful of your neighbors!
Red Light, Green Light
Red Light, Green Light, or Statues, is a time-honored group game that is great for the wide open outdoors. Players line up shoulder to shoulder, then one person heads to the other end of the field.
When the person yells “green light!” Everyone runs towards them. Anyone still moving after the person yells “red light!” is out. The first person to reach the other end of the field wins.
Hopscotch is another traditional game that pairs up great with camping. Most developed campgrounds feature paved entries, so bring some chalk and draw up a hopscotch route; encourage your kids to get creative.
Watch for cars, and remember to wash off the concrete before you head home.
Sleeping Bag Races
A sleeping bag race is an epic game to play on a summer evening. This one usually doesn’t last long, because it wears kids out quickly, and parents even quicker. It might be a good idea to use sleeping bags that your children have outgrown.
Glow Stick Ring Toss
Take advantage of warm summer nights by bringing a glow stick ring toss game. Save this game for a birthday camping trip or large group outing. The glow sticks will last for 4-6 hours, but that’s it; the one-time use makes it a bit too wasteful to plan on playing this game every trip.
Games to Play Around the Campfire
The real fun of camping starts after the sun sets. Light your campfire (be sure to follow regulations), and break out some of these fun activities:
The stuff of legend, telling campfire stories is one of the most cherished camping activities. Don’t worry if you’re not a great storyteller; bring a couple of fun books, or look up a local history story to recount for your kids. The ambience of the fire, some s’mores, and the unfamiliar setting all make for a great storytelling environment.
Keep your stories age-appropriate, and consider telling endearing or educational tales if you’re worried that a spooky story might keep your kids up all night.
Another time-honored camping activity is playing music. Singing along to a guitar is most common, but if you’re not a budding John Denver, singing any song that your kids know will be a great way to make some new memories.
If you need some inspiration, bring a bluetooth speaker and play songs like “Brown-eyed Girl” and “American Pie” to get folks misty-eyed with nostalgia.
Whether telling stories, singing songs, or playing other campfire games listed below, bringing a packet of color-changing fire crystals is a fun way to add some “oohs” and “aahs” to your camping repertoire.
This game requires a pretty large group, but it is really fun to play, especially when there are all ages present. One person starts as the murderer, and during conversation around the fire, they carefully wink at a victim; the victim pretends to die a dramatic death. The group tries to determine who the murderer is before they all get winked at.
Alphabet Hunt, Noah’s Ark, and I Spy
Alphabet games are always fun when your kids are learning new words, and camping presents a lot of new things to look at and name. Alphabet Hunt simply involves each person naming something around the campsite that starts with the letter “a”, then on the “b”, and so on.
Noah’s Ark starts with one player saying “Into Noah’s Ark went one (animal that starts with the letter ‘a’)”. Then the next player repeats the phrase, but adds onto it: “Into Noah’s Ark went one anteater and two (animals starting with the letter ‘b’).” Continuing this game until you reach the letter “z” can result in some pretty good laughs.
I Spy is another classic children’s game that also gets a fresh twist around a campfire. The first player says “I spy with my little eye something starting with (either a letter or a syllable)”. The winner gets to start their own phrase.
Games to Play in the Tent
Once you’re in the tent it’s usually time to chill out and get some sleep, but if your kids are feeling restless, or you have to hole up in the tent due to bad weather, it can’t hurt to have a couple of fun things to pass the time.
Shadow Hand Puppets
Making shadow puppets is another classic camping game that can not only be hilarious, it can also be a great accompaniment to storytelling. Check out a book from your library or look online before you go camping to learn some fun creatures to make with your hands.
If you’re making up a box of camping gear at home, be sure to throw in a deck of playing cards. Not only are simple games like poker, war, and speed perennial classics, playing cards can also be used for magic tricks and stacking card houses.
As you can see, there are tons of fun camping pastimes for people of all ages. Some of the best memories can be made by going on a family hike, playing cornhole, and telling stories around the campfire.
After reading this, you may be wondering, what are some fun things that adults can do in the campsite, either before or after the kids go to bed?
If there are no kids on your camping trip, find a safe spot to throw a tomahawk at some chopped logs. After that, fire up the hand-crank blender to make adult beverages. When the sun goes down, break out the glow-in-the-dark bocce ball set, or the guitar, to keep the party going into the night.