Family camping trips can create lifelong memories of s'mores, sleeping bags, and stargazing. This is especially true when your preparations include camping games. It's inevitable that your little ones will get bored and cranky at some point, and having the right games to whip out can be a lifesaver! Here are just a few ideas for your family's next adventure.
1. Bean Bag Toss
Bean bag toss is one of those classic camping games that everyone remembers from their own childhood, so you might consider it your sacred duty as a parent to pass it down.
DIY beanbags are easy to make by stuffing a sock with rice or some other hefty material. You could even have a pre-camping crafting activity where everyone gets together and decorates beanbags with markers, beads, sequins, or embroidery!
Otherwise, there are plenty of fun, colorful beanbags that you can purchase in multi-packs or with accessories such as hoops, cones, and cornhole boards.
You can also make or modify your own versions of beanbag games. Have you ever tried hacky sack with beanbags? How about toss versions of tic-tac-toe?
2. Alphabet Hunt
This can be a fun camping game for younger kids who don't have the skills or patience to handle more involved games. It's played without equipment; all you need is a working knowledge of the alphabet.
It starts with a single person naming something around the campsite that starts with the letter “A.” The next person finds something that starts with the letter “B.”
To make it harder, you can require everyone to memorize and recite the list as they go. To make it simpler, you can offer multiple choice answers that reinforce letter-learning.
Either way, a good old-fashioned alphabet hunt is something that'll be educational and entertaining all at once.
3. Squirt Gun Race
Squirt guns are always fun, but if you'd like a little more structure than just “everyone running wild around the campsite and soaking each other,” consider something like a squirt gun race. It's as simple as lining up cups or other objects and then seeing who can knock them over the fastest. You can also DIY it if you're feeling creative:
- Fill the cups with water to give them more weight.
- Use irregularly-shaped objects like balls, toys, or action figures.
- Give everyone a time limit, or create time-based turns.
- Make everyone wear blindfolds or spin around in circles before they take their turn.
- Offer prizes to the winners such as a piece of candy for every overturned object.
Another pre-camping activity idea is to create homemade banners that the kids can drench. Think of them as carnival-style games where you try to get the squirt guns through a clown's mouth!
Another classic, charades can be played with or without props, and they can be adjusted in difficulty depending on the ages of your children.
An easy charade, for example, might be “dinosaur.” A harder charade might be “T-Rex.” A super-hard charade might be “a T-Rex on ice skates trying to juggle.”
You can brainstorm ideas in advance to put on cards, or you can go with the flow, allowing your kids to come up with impromptu challenges. You can also encourage collaboration by having siblings come up with madlibs-style charades such as “a _____ doing _____ while ____ing.”
No matter how you decide to play, however, a good game of charades will definitely get the giggles going!
5. Scavenger Hunt
The great thing about a scavenger hunt is that it can be done anywhere. Whether you're skiing, sunbathing, or hiking in the woods, you can create a fun day of memories for your family.
Basic scavenger hunts can be completed without equipment. You can collect things found in nature like geodes, ladybugs, flowers, four-leaf clovers, and oddly-shaped rocks. You could even make a DIY game out of finding interesting things to hide in the game!
Another way to play is with a card game version like Find and Seek. Each card has a prompt like “something blue” or “something fuzzy,” which will encourage curiosity, exploration, and a sense of discovery in your little one. Tell them that you'll stop for ice cream on the way back home if they finish the entire deck before the end of the trip.
6. Camping Crafts
Let your kids express their creativity through cramping crafts. There are numerous ways to turn nature into art, including:
- Leaf threading: Leaf threading is when you “sew” leaves together in garlands and other shapes. Just tie some string to the end of a stick to create a nature-based sewing needle.
- Acorn and pine cone painting: Your kids can create all kinds of mosaics with a little paint and some organic easels.
- Texture rubbings: Sandwich something flat between two sheets of paper and color over it. The usual suspects are flowers and leaves, but you can use anything that fits!
Camping crafts can be especially fun for kids who aren't able to run around all day. Whether they're young, disabled, neurodivergent, or simply the type to enjoy quiet and restful activities rather than loud and boisterous ones, camping crafts are sedate without being boring.
Don't forget, too, that camping crafts can be taken home after your trip is over, creating ready-made souvenirs and scrapbook materials!
7. Collaborative Story Time
“Once upon a time…” It only takes a few words to get a story rolling, but instead of taking all that responsibility on yourself, why don't you outsource it? Have everyone in the family take turns at adding a few lines. You might wind up with something silly, serious, and strange all at once.
For kids who are particularly imaginative, you can add extra challenges like “make it rhyme” or “narrate it with shadow hand puppets.” You can also issue challenges related to themes, concepts, or word choices. You can have them gather props from nature to act out their stories. You can even put together a homemade campsite theater production!
Bonus: This is a game that can be played anywhere, so whether it's day or night, rain or shine, you can use the power of creative storytelling to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble.
Tag is a time-honored tradition for kids, but you can turn it into a family activity, too. Everyone can get involved. Here are some fun ideas for tag:
- Flashlight tag: Played at night, everyone tags each other via light beam.
- Flag tag: Everyone tucks a flag, scarf, or bandana into their pocket. The person who collects the most flags wins!
- Blob tag: When you get tagged, you have to hold the hand of your tagger, creating a “blob” that chases the next person.
- Messy tag: Play a regular game of tag, but add mud, paint, water guns, or something else that will get everyone sticky or dirty.
Don't be afraid to get creative with tag or to make your own goofy rules. The only real goal is to have a good time, so if the family is laughing together, you've done your job properly.
9. Toss and Catch
A “toss and catch” ball set can be a great addition to your family's camping games. Since the wide catching paddles are made with Velcro, they don't require as much dexterity as Frisbees or traditional baseball mitts. Your little ones can be just as involved as your older, more coordinated teens.
Another great thing about toss and catch is that it can be played by 2 – 6 people at a time, so siblings can run around in whatever groups that they'd like. They can even hold simultaneous games. There are multiple balls and multiple paddles.
For extra fun, put up a net and play games badminton-style, or create obstacles or barriers that players have to navigate as they move around.
Tip: Make sure to hang on to the canvas bag that stores everything! The only downside of toss and catch is that its equipment is easily misplaced.
10. Two Truths and a Lie
Two truths and a lie is a classic game with simple rules. Taking turns, everyone tells two truths and one lie, and the other players guess which is which.
A personal version could let everyone bond and become closer. A trivia version could let your kids show off what they've learned in school. The possibilities are endless.
Additionally, since it's a game played without equipment, two truths and a lie can be played anywhere and anytime. You don't have to wait until you're all sitting around a campfire at night. You can do it during a hike, road trip, plane ride, and more!
These are just a few camping games that are fun for the whole family. Remember: It doesn't matter where you go when the journey is suffused with love. Happy travels!
Be sure to check out our Ultimate Family Camping Guide for great camping meal ideas, packing checklists and more!