22 campfire stories to spook and delight kids of all ages

22 campfire stories to spook and delight kids of all ages

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 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"

This rhyming verse from Boy Scout Trail is a fast-paced tale of a fearless Pony Express rider, and kids will enjoy the unexpected funny ending.

3. "How Bear Lost His Tail"

Children will love this clever folktale from the 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 Iroquois Legend of the Big Dipper"

On First People, you can learn the legend of four hunters who chased 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 from the Greater Niagara Frontier Council 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"

This very scary story from Camping With Us can be adapted to your specific location, which will make it even spookier (and more fun!) for your kids.

7. "Looking for Trouble"

Two boys learn about what happens to kids who don't listen to their parents and go looking for trouble while on a camping trip in this story from RV Travel With Kids.

8. "Creak"

This short story from Ultimate Camp Resource begins with a man alone in his noisy house and ends with a foregone scary conclusion. Perfect for dark nights around a fire.

9. "The Pink Jellybean"

Telling this story from Boy Scout Trail about a trip down a long, dark road and the hidden item found at the end of the scary journey is all about constantly building the suspense — 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 story about three goats who meet a troll when trying to cross a bridge 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 from Stories for Girl Scouts 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 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

Use a story starter bag like the one 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 stories 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 story told in song from Miss Lucy's Playground Songs 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"

Let the kids provide the noises (they'll love it!) as you tell this story from MacScouter about a quiet library in a quiet town that's hit with a loud, chaotic mess.

Funny campfire stories

17. "Gloop Maker"

Kids will love this funny 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.

18. "Sneakers"

A boy is willing to do anything to win the smelly sneaker contest in this story from MacScouter. Your kids will be in for a surprise when he pays the price by losing his feet in the process.

19. "The Medicrin"

Kids will love the punchline of this story from Camping Dude about a hero who comes to save a village from a monster.

20. "The Vinder Viper"

A man who moves into his great uncle's house feels threatened by repeated calls from a creature calling himself the "Vinder Viper" in this story from Boy Scout Trail. Can your kids guess the ending?

21. "The Ghost of the Bloody Finger"

This story from The Camping Family gets progressively scarier, but the punchline is cute and funny.

22. "The Purple Gorilla"

This story from Camping Dude may start out scary, but the ending is sure to make your kids laugh!

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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