What kid doesn’t love staying up late, making s’mores and telling funny or sometimes scary campfire stories?
If you’ve been charged with providing the group entertainment at your next campout, here’s a list of 22 stories to help set the mood and get the nighttime fun started. The best part? There are stories in here for kids of all ages.
Legends and folklore
1. “Chipmunk and Bear”
In this legendary “Chipmunk and Bear” tale your kids will love from Ultimate Camp Resource, Chipmunk challenges Bear to stop the sun from rising. When Bear fails, he takes his anger out on the smaller animal, which explains how the chipmunk got its stripes.
2. “Ballad of Johnny O’Dell”
3. “How Bear Lost His Tail”
Children will love “How Bear Lost His Tail,” a clever Ojibwe legend shared by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, describing how Otter outsmarts Bear into using his tail as a fishing rod. When the sun sets, Bear finds his tail frozen and is forced to leave it behind.
4. “The Hunting of the Great Bear”
On First People, you can learn “The Hunting of the Great Bear,” the Iroquois legend of the Big Dipper, in which four hunters chase a magical bear into the sky, only to become trapped forever in the heavens. Show your kids the Big Dipper as you retell this legend around the campfire.
Scary campfire stories
5. “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
Recount this chilling poem “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert W. Service, via Poetry Foundation, for your campers about a man who agrees to carry out Sam McGee’s dying wish, only to find a hauntingly surprising result.
6. “The Broom Town Curse”
7. “Looking for Trouble”
9. “Pink Jellybean”
The “Pink Jellybean” story, found on Boy Scout Trail, takes kids on a scary journey down a long, dark road in search of a hidden item. This story is all about constantly building the suspense — and what camper doesn’t love that? For added surprise, you can shout, “a ghost!” instead of saying “a pink jellybean” at the end.
Campfire stories for younger kids
10. “Three Billy Goats Gruff”
This well-loved Norwegian folktale “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” shared via AmericanLiterature.com, is the story about three goats who meet a troll when trying to cross a bridge. The story has a little bit of suspense while never becoming too scary for your younger campers.
11. “Little Red Bandanna Hood”
This camp version of Little Red Riding Hood — “Little Red Bandanna Hood,” found via the Girl Scouts Butte blog — points out the many helpful uses of a bandanna while out in the woods. Kids will love this new take a familiar tale.
12. “How Brother Rabbit Fooled the Whale and the Elephant”
In this folktale, “How Brother Rabbit Fooled the Whale and the Elephant” from Kellscraft Studio, clever brother rabbit foils the largest land and sea animals’ plans for world domination. And what better for your little ones than a story where the little guy triumphs?
Interactive campfire stories
13. Make your own story
Try this story starters grab bag (with free printables!) from Cool Mom Picks to let kids help you tell the story. The kids will love being in the role of storyteller, and this method of storytelling also allows you to weave a tale that’s appropriately scary or funny.
14. Juliette Low action stories
The Juliette Low story activity on Scouting Web may teach children about the founder of the Girl Scouts, but the format of these stories can also be customized for different groups. Your audience will love listening for certain words to come up in the story, which is their cue to respond with an action, such as making a sound or giving a salute.
15. “Going on a Bear Hunt”
This favorite “Going on a Bear Hunt” story, via All Nursery Rhymes, takes children on an interactive journey through nature toward finding a bear and then running back home to safety. Kids will love the different hand movements and sounds that accompany the story.
16. “Quiet Please”
Funny campfire stories
17. “Gloop Maker”
Kids will love this funny “Gloop Maker” story from Camping Dude that recounts the story of a group of sailors who hire a gloop maker — only because no one wants to admit they don’t understand what he really does.
A boy is willing to do anything to win the smelly sneaker contest in this “Sneakers” story from MacScouter. Your kids will be in for a surprise when he pays the price by losing his feet in the process.