11 Simple Camping Activities for Kids & Families
Nothing beats getting back to basics and spending some quality time with the family in the great outdoors. But once you’ve checked off all the items from your family camping packing list and thought of some delicious family camping food ideas, you then need to turn your attention to how to keep the kids entertained.
The beauty of camping is that you can get your kids away from their screens for a few days. So here are some fun camping activities for families to ensure no one starts moaning about being bored during your vacation.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Open up your children’s eyes to the incredible nature all around them by printing off some scavenger hunt sheets before you leave home. There are hundreds of pretty designs to choose from on Pinterest, just make sure you pick one that matches the nature you’ll find where you’re camping.
You can spread this out over a number of days and keep a daily tally of the scores to create some friendly competition. In terms of the activities that make up the “camp olympics” be as creative as you like and pick different events that each of your kids are good at, so everyone has a fair chance. Some ideas include one-legged races, egg and spoon races and tug-of-war.
Okay, this game requires a device to play, so it clocks up a bit of screen time, but it’s screen time within nature nonetheless. It’s essentially real world outdoor treasure hunting using GPS, requiring you to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates and find a hidden container. You can search for geocache containers near your campground on this site.
Another great thing about camping in nature is the clear night skies that you simply don’t get in the cities. So this is a great opportunity to introduce your children to the wonders of the cosmos. And if you’re not already a whiz at identifying the constellations, download an app such as SkyView. There is also some neat glow in the dark and LED objects that can illuminate the sky and create awesome spectacles, such as the Whistle Copter.
Capture the Flag
This is a classic family camping activity, but things can get a little rough, so it’s best to play with teenage children. Find a large area close to camp that has natural boundaries such as hedges, paths or water and create teams of equal ability, or perhaps parents versus kids. If you need a refresher on the rules, read this article.
Turn boring old tag up a notch with this game. A park ranger is chosen at random while all the other players need to choose an animal that will become their identity during the game. The park ranger then names characteristics of animals, and if the players’ animals have those features, they have to make a run for it to the other side of the playing area, without the park ranger tagging them. Here’s a more detailed rundown of the rules.
Glow Stick Ring Toss
This is a great family camping activity for when the sun goes down, and is perfect for children of any age. Layout some larger ringed-glow sticks at different distances on the ground, then create a throw line using a branch or larger twig. Then, using smaller ringed-glow sticks, each player needs to try and throw them into the larger ringed-glow sticks, with more points for landing them in the ones that are further away.
Balloon Ping Pong
This is great for younger children as it’s super easy to hit a slow moving balloon. All you need are some paper plates with popsicle sticks attached to create paddles and a few balloons (as inevitably a few will end up getting burst). Play over an outdoor picnic table, so do it during days when there is no wind. And don’t forget to throw away any debris.
Glow in the Dark Jenga
It’s the age old classic Jenga, but on a much bigger scale and it glows in the dark. Again, this one is great for children of all ages, although it does take up a bit of packing space. Here’s more details on the product.
Water Cup Relay
Kids and a little bit of water always goes well together. For this game, every player needs to hold a drinking cup and line up in a row, with each person facing the back of the person in front of them. The person at the front fills up their cup with water, then lifts it over their head and has to try and pour into the person’s cup behind them, then the next person needs to do the same until it gets to the end of the line, at which point the last person has to run to the front and start the process all over again.
Another great game to play once the sun goes down. As per standard tag, one player has to try and tag everyone else, but instead of chasing after them and tagging them, they instead shine a flashlight to tag the other players.
These camping activities for kids should help keep your children entertained and away from their screens. Or if your children are a bit too young for these ideas, read our upcoming guide on how to camp with babies and toddlers.