If you’ve ever been with your family in nature, then you probably were in need of some fun camping activities for kids. Exploring the great outdoors is one of the best experiences you can have as a family, but the little ones tend to get bored of just walking and enjoying the views. Either that or their energy level will be so high, you, as a parent or teacher, won’t be able to relax and enjoy the view. No matter the case, if you are traveling with children you always need to have a backup plan and in this scenario, a backup plan means knowing some fun activities for kids while camping.
What are camping activities for kids?
Before setting off on this journey of finding out what type of games will suit your children best, you may want to get some fundamental information first. And that begins with knowing what camping activities for kids might look like. Generally speaking, any sort of game that will get the little one’s attention will be your best friend. The theme and difficulty may vary based on things such as location, the age of your children, and the amount of dedication or energy you may have and want to put into this as an organizer. You can do simple things like stories around the campfire or go big by planning a scavenger hunt. Whatever you decide to plan, the important thing is to have the kids in mind. Know what they like, how they behave and how long can they entertain such an activity.
Why do you need camping activities for kids?
The next obvious question on the list is: why would you want or need camping activities for kids? I would say the answer is as obvious as the question. Children are restless beings. They thrive on being creative and on moving around as much as they can. They have a lot of energy and stamina that needs to be directed towards something. If you, as a parent or teacher, do not entertain this quality of theirs, you will probably end up in a situation where the kids will grow annoyed, bored, or upset with the trip. And even though children have enough imagination to play on their own, sometimes they do have an appetite for being extra playful and extra energetic. And when that time comes, having some fun camping activities for kids in your arsenal will be the greatest asset.
Now that I have answered the most burning questions on everyone’s mind, here are some great ideas for activities you and your family can do together in the great outdoors. They are varied and perfect for children of all ages and I am sure you can find at least one suited to your taste.
1. Scavenger Hunt
Kids love scavenger hunts and planning one in a natural environment is probably as good as it’s going to get for them. The endless possibilities that nature can give you are a great source of inspiration for such an activity. You can organize the hunt in a sustainable way, using only items that you can find around. Have the players collect stones, a certain type of leaf, flowers, pine cones, you name it. This is a great way to use the environment to your advantage while also providing the children with valuable lessons. They can easily learn more about the habitat around them through this activity. The kids can simply collect the items or, if you have multiple cameras around, you can give it to them to snap pictures of the objects instead of collecting them. The only thing you need to do is divide the players into groups and have one adult in each group accompanying them and telling them what items they need to look out for. Don’t forget to provide players with bags to store the findings. The team that successfully gathers everything on the list first, wins. You can have a reward prepared for the winners or you can make the losing team do a penalty such as being in charge of cleaning the campsite for the rest of the day.
2. Walk and Learn
If you don’t have the time to whip up an activity due to either lack of knowledge, time or materials then you can always improvise on what you are doing at the moment. We all know very well that camping requires spending time in nature and there is no better way to immerse yourself in the environment than to walk around. Hiking is a great way to explore the great outdoors and to take in everything nature has to offer. When traveling with kids tho, you will need a way to keep them entertained along the way. In that sense, try using the place around as a tool to help them learn something new. During the hike, try and teach them something about the environment they are in. Turn the game into a competition and make the kids try and remember as many facts as they can. When the trip is over and everybody is back at the campsite, each player will reveal how many facts they managed to learn during the walk. The kid that remembers the most will win a prize. The things you are teaching them shouldn’t be hard. For instance, when walking near a river, you can teach them that all rivers will eventually end up in the sea. If you happen to see an animal like an owl you can tell them that owls usually sleep during the day and hunt at night. The information shouldn’t be too complicated as a child’s mind isn’t equipped to retain complex pieces of information. Use this activity as a way not only to teach kids but to also keep them focused on the hike and make them forget about how much they have to walk until they can return to the camp.
3. Camp Cook-Off
Another great camping activity for kids is one involving food. How so? Simple! Involving your kids in the cooking process will not only keep them busy, but it will also serve you well as they can be a great source of help when preparing food for a large group. In order to make this activity interesting for them, you simply need to turn it into a game or competition. Divide the participants into two groups. Each group will be in charge of preparing one meal with the ingredients available to you. There are plenty of camp-friendly meals that you can try from savory foods such as hobo hamburgers to sweet delicious treats like the classic s’more. Each team should be supervised by one adult that will also help the kids with the task at hand. Then, after everything is finished, you can have a judge taste and declare the winner. The judge can be either an adult or a child. The winner will get a treat or, if you don’t have any rewards at hand, you can always make the loser team wash the dishes as punishment.
4. Guessing Game
Another great activity for kids, when surrounded by nature, is a game I always used to play with my cousins ( and I still do sometimes ) when we were hiking in the mountains. To be quite fair with you, some walks in nature can get a bit tedious especially if the scenery doesn’t change or you have long hours of movement ahead of you. So, to make time pass faster, we used to engage ourselves in this guessing game. It’s quite simple actually. Each player takes their turn in thinking of absolutely anything under the sky. Once they are done, they can only give one hint and that is the nature of the thing they thought of such as “object”, “abstract idea”, “natural phenomenon”, “animal” and so on. Afterward, the other players will ask yes or no questions in order to find out what the main player thought of. The first one who manages to guess is the winner. This is a fun game as it makes the time pass by faster and before you know everybody will be back at the campsite, with no complaints heard on the way back.
5. Campfire Story Competition
No campfire is complete without its session of stories ( usually horror ones, but since children are involved, a change in the theme should be alright ). When the stars are out, the fire is on and right when the marshmallows are prepared to be roasted, that’s when people are usually gathered and in the mood for some storytelling. And the best part about this is that kids not only love stories but are actually great storytellers themselves. Their creativity is a natural source that enables them to come up with the most interesting of tales. And as much as they love to create, they will also be pretty pleased in hearing anything witty that comes from their parent’s imagination. And if you are not the creative type, worry not. Simply dig up whatever folktales you used to hear as a child and pass them over to your kids. If you want to turn this into a fun little game, you can all create a story together, where one person starts with a sentence and each participant has to follow up with another one. This way, everyone can pitch in and I am sure that by the end a masterpiece of a story will be told.
6. Cloud Gazing
If you are catching a sunny day with big clouds scattered all over the sky during your trip, then this is an amazing opportunity to do some cloud gazing with your kids. This is one fun camping activity that they will love for sure because it involves the thing that children are best at, imagination. All you have to do is take your kids and lay down on the ground. Look at the clouds and let your imagination flow. Take each cloud that you see and ask the children what they see it as. This activity is perfect if you want to relax. Just lay down, take it easy, and be surprised by the answers the little ones will come up with.
7. Campsite Crafts
Who says you can’t enjoy being in nature and come up with amazing souvenirs at the same time? If you are the type of person who likes to get handsy and create things from scratch and you want to pass that down to your kids, then this camping activity is for you. There are so many things you can create with everything that nature has to offer. You could make a dreamcatcher or a nature collage made up of flower petals, pine cones, tree leaves, and so on. You can even make hats for the boys or crowns for the girls decorated with leaves and twigs. You could do some rock painting or challenge your kids into designing a map of the campsite. The possibilities here are endless and each and every one of them will be surely bringing in a good time, not for your children alone, but for you, as a parent, as well.
8. Campfire Games
Sitting around the campfire might get a bit boring at some point for your kids. In that sense, you could try to play some games with them in order to boost the atmosphere. There are plenty of such games you could choose from. Here are some ideas:
- The Alphabet Game ( choose a specific category such as books and then one person begins to name a book and the letter that the book ends with becomes the first letter of the book the following participant has to name )
- Would You Rather ( this game involves asking some questions to the participants, like “would you rather go to the mountains or to the beach?”, “would you rather eat gummy bear or chocolate?” and so on )
- Telephone Game ( in this game one player will whisper something in the ear of the person sitting next to them and they, in turn, will have to pass whatever they think they heard to their neighbor and so on until it comes back to the original person )
9. Capture the Flag
If you want to go to the next level with your list of camping activities for kids, then this game is for you. It is especially suited for large groups of people, so if you are traveling with other families then you can all get together and organize this awesome event. The only things you need are two flags ( one for each team ) and sticks to define your playground with some borders. All players must be aware of how far they can go in the designated area. There will be two teams and each team will try to capture the other’s team flag without being tagged. The first one that manages to do that wins the game. This is an amazing activity as it will surely drain the energy out of everybody in the best sense possible.
Stargazing is a popular camping activity and one that will benefit your children greatly. It is an amazing opportunity to teach them about the wonders of the universe and there is no better place to do that, than under the clear starlit night sky. Since the mountains don’t suffer from artificial lightning, during the night you can see the stars in all their glory. Take this opportunity to gaze upon constellations that you probably aren’t able to see when living in the city. Bring a blanket, some binoculars, or even a telescope if you own one, head out into the dark, and enjoy the best part about going camping ( at least in my opinion ).
11. Flashlight Tag
If you are looking for games to play in the dark then this variation of the classic tag mixed in the thrills of the “hide-and-seek” game is the perfect fit for you. The rules are quite simple: the person that is the tagger needs to find the other players and catch them in the dark using only a flashlight. This is not however for the faint of heart especially if you are playing in the woods. It can get a bit scary if you end up alone or run away too far so make sure the players know very well the designated play area. Also, this game works well for older children versus younger ones.
12. Sleeping Bag Race
Are you looking for a camping activity that will tire your kids so that you can relax the rest of the day? Well, say no more! This game is the perfect choice as it requires a lot of stamina and energy in order to play. Each player should have their sleeping bag ready. This is a variation of the classic potato sack race but customized for a day at the campsite. Kids can either jump in their sleeping bags and do bunny hops to the finish line or crawl into them and worm their way up there. Either way, make sure you have some prizes prepared for the winner as it will make the kids twice as engaged in the game.
13. Build a Campfire
Every campsite needs a campfire at some point. If you want to engage your kids in this campfire-building activity and teach them something at the same time, then this is a perfect choice for you. You can even turn this into a fun competition. Simply divide the group into two teams and set up a list of two sets of supplies to build that fire. Think wood, sticks, paper, rocks, and so on. When you sound the alarm each team will have to race in order to gather all the supplies and build their own fire. The first team to complete the task wins the game. Just make sure that before you commence, you carefully explain the steps of building the fire as well as give some warnings. If you want to feel safer, you can have one adult in each team supervise the process.
14. Frog Toss
If your campsite can be found near a lake then it would be a shame to miss out on this classic camping activity. Just take your kids and go looking for some flat rocks. Then, go to the like and try and toss them so that they will jump on the surface of the water like frogs. The idea is to have a good grasp on your throwing method, emphasizing your wrist movement. This is a great activity if you want to pass some time and have fun with your kids. They will surely get a laugh out of this experience.
15. Park Ranger Game
The last game on this list is a very entertaining one, easy to organize, and perfect for large groups of people. Out of everybody present one person will be the park ranger. He will pick his spot at a distance across from where the rest of the group is standing. The other players will each choose an animal. That animal will become their identity. Then, the ranger will ask questions such as “does your animal have feathers?” or “does your animal have claws?”. If the answer to any of the ranger’s questions is yes, then you need to run across the area, beyond the ranger, without being tagged, and without going beyond the borders of the play area. The ranger will try to tag as many people as possible. If a player is tagged, then he will become a tree and freeze on the spot. The last player who is not a tree wins the game and gets to be a park ranger for the following rounds.
It doesn’t matter if you are going to your old camping spot for a quiet weekend in nature or heading on a full road trip to a new destination. Spending time in nature has been proven to have amazing health benefits for everyone involved. And not just that. Kids can benefit even more from being in the great outdoors as studies have shown that if children spend as much time as they can enjoying mother nature they will develop a more conscious mindset when it comes to the environment. That is incredibly important, especially now, when we need as many environmentally conscious people as possible, given the sudden and dangerous climate changes we’ve had in the last few years. That being said, when going camping with your family, don’t forget to show them how crucial it is to take care of the habitat they are into. And you can do that by incorporating these camping activities for kids into your arsenal. They are a great way to create an amazing atmosphere when going camping so that your kids will love their time spent in nature.