17 Fun Camping Games for Kids
Camping with kids poses many challenges, but keeping them entertained during downtime shouldn't be one of them. Whether you're roughing it as a family, or bringing along a nanny or summer sitter, you can make your trip fun, memorable and curb boredom with camping games and activities that keep kids busy for hours:
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
Plan a scavenger hunt, as suggested by Love The Outdoors. Nurture kids' natural urge to explore. This is a classic camping game that kids of all ages can play. Tweak the instructions to make them age-appropriate. Keep play in the campground area so as not to disturb the wilderness.
- Glowing Ring Toss
Kids love glow sticks! Using one large glow stick and some smaller bracelet-sized sticks creates a glowing ring toss game for nighttime fun, as described by Feels Like Home. Want to make the game more challenging? Use three large sticks at different distances and heights and assign a range of point values for ringing the sticks.
- Camping Olympics
If you have lots of kids, set up Camping Olympics, as suggested by Camping-Field-Guide. Your Olympics can include numerous outdoor games, such as a tug-of-war or a potato sack race. The beauty of making your own events is that you can tailor the plan to fit the ages of your campers and level of competition you desire (or don't desire). Plan ahead so you have all the supplies needed and some camp-inspired prizes, such as a s'mores kit.
- Park Ranger
More than a simple game of tag, teach the kids to play Park Ranger. Instructions can be found at Ultimate Camp Resource. The game is a bit like freeze tag. Featuring animals, trees and boundaries, it reinforces kids' listening skills.
A game inspired by a 1900s Scouting and tracking game, Shadowing, as described by About Parenting, is best for kids who won't require you to be right by their sides. The game includes a player who's "It" and shadowers who must find that player. It fosters teamwork and strategizing.
- Flashlight Tag
A nighttime version of hide-and-seek and tag combined, flashlight tag is fun for the whole family. See About Parenting for instructions. Tip: Use rechargeable batteries. Keep extras on hand.
- I Spy
For a relaxing time around the campsite, keep kids busy with the classic I Spy game. See How Stuff Works for specifics. Each player gives clues on the item they choose within eyesight, saying, for example, "I spy with my little eyes, something brown." The one who guesses what it is wins.
- Camping Bingo
Using printed bingo cards and scavenger hunt skills, each player marks off their camping bingo square when they find an item. Visit the National Wildlife Federation site for details. Teach kids "Leave No Trace" principles by only marking off the items and not removing them from nature. Younger kids can play, too, with adult help.
- S'mores Card Game
Rainy day camping? Bring along Education Outdoors S'mores Card Game, a fast-paced game kids love. You can also use the deck to play memory, matching the pictures on the cards.
- Backpack Pass
Kids love acting silly -- and opening packages! This game from About Parenting combines both activities, along with music and making s'mores for evening fun. Each player has to perform to earn their chocolate pieces for making the s'mores.
- Elves, Giants and Wizards
This game, posted by Wilderness Aware Rafting, is similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors but adds a game of tag. Players are assigned to be elves, giants or wizards. They try to tag others to join their team while avoiding being tagged themselves.
- Camping Charades
A printable camping charades game is available at The Joys of Boys. Charades are always great fun any time of day.
- 20 Questions
20 Questions is another classic guessing game. Keep the objects camping-themed, as suggested by Inspired Camping.
- Camping Trip
"I'm going on a camping trip and I'm going to bring ... " This game, found at Games Kids Play, challenges kids' word skills. It involves each player stating what they'll bring on their trip, but the object must begin with the last letter of the previous person's item -- although not everyone is clued in on this fact, which is what makes the game challenging.
- Tarp Toss
Make this game to bring along on your next camping trip. The tarp game posted at The Red Headed Hostess requires a tarp with holes worth different point values, some rope and a ball. This game is easy to make, set up and play for campsite fun.
- Balloon Ping Pong
Played over a picnic table with simple supplies, balloon ping pong is sure to be a hit. Bring along extra balloons to replace as needed.
- Fire Tender
A game of quiet skill, each player must sneak sticks away from the fire tender without getting caught. To add a twist for large groups, have kids who are pointed at sit out the rest of that round.
With these camping games you're now equipped for your camping adventure with kids. Check out 10 Tips to Surviving Summer Travel to make the camping journey even more fun. Or hire a summer babysitter to help you make the most of the season.
MOMS ALSO READ: The Complete Guide To Summer Camp
Kit Arbuckle writes for numerous publications focusing on parenting, health and education. She is an experienced camper, hiker and backpacker and has taken her kids on many outdoor adventures.