As every parent knows, keeping a bunch of kids entertained is no easy task. This is especially true in this era of smartphones, where it seems nothing can hold their attention for more than a brief moment.
That’s where good, old-fashioned camping games come in. Camping is already great by itself, but when you combine it with some carefully chosen camping games, you won’t just get tons of fun. You’ll also get an outing the whole family will enjoy, and will have great memories for years to come.
Top 19 Camping Games Your Kids Will Love
As you read this article, you’ll notice that I tried to provide a variety of games that both kids and adults can enjoy. Some of them are old-time classics, while a few of them might be new to you. In any case, all of them are guaranteed to provide hours of fun, so you can’t go wrong anyhow.
Without further ado, here are the best camping games for kids (of all ages).
Ok, so this isn’t really a specific game, but hear me out. Instead of just playing one or two games and calling it a day, why not set up an Olympic event?
If you’re camping with a large group of people, you can divide them into teams and organize activities such as sleeping bag races, scavenger hunts, and others listed below.
Depending on how complicated you want to get, you can create scorecards and detailed point systems… or you can keep it nice and simple. Totally up to you.
Of course, don’t forget the prize!
Not in the mood for physical exercise? Then you can play this classic and still spend hours giving your brain cells a proper workout.
The rules of the game are simple: One person thinks of an object. The other people ask him or her questions (twenty questions, to be exact – hence the name) and he/she can only answer with “yes” or “no”.
If one person figures out the object, they’re next in line to think of an object. If nobody guesses correctly, then the original person continues their role in the next round.
Do your kids like being stealthy?
Then they’ll love this gem of a game.
Here, a kid sits on the ground blindfolded, with a lot of sticks around him. Other children then try to sneak up and take the sticks without being heard. Of course, if the blindfolded kid hears the noise, he only needs to point out in that direction and the culprit is out of the game.
If you’re playing in large groups, you can divide kids into teams and team members can alternate their attempts to steal the sticks.
Hide and Seek
An oldie but goldie.
Everybody has played this game, either with their kids or as kids themselves. And luckily, campsites offer a lot more space to hide than your house. On a tree, in the bushes, behind the tent – the possibilities are limitless.
Of course, because the campsites are usually quite large, you have to set up some ground rules. It’s best if you clearly define a boundary the kids can hide in to avoid any potential accidents. You can also design an area where the “it” is counting as a safe space, so the kids are bound to come back to it sooner or later.
You can create and print out your own camping bingo cards, or buy some online. From there, the game plays like regular bingo. Have the kids mark out the items and practice their problem-solving skills.
When camping, you usually want to start off by exploring the campsite and getting familiar with your surroundings. Well, what better way to spice up an otherwise mundane task than with a cool little scavenger hunt?
You can find many scavengers hunt lists online or you can create your own. Then, before going on a hike, give a copy of the list to your kid and have him or her mark items as they find them. Be sure to mention that he/she shouldn’t take items with them – leaving nature as you found it is extremely important.
I spy with my little eye…
Just with those 6 little words, you can have hours of creative fun. This is a great game to play at the end of the day when you just want to sit still and relax.
The rules are simple: someone says – “I spy, with my little eye, something…” and then he or she describes it. Something green, small, tall, it can go in a number of ways. The person who correctly guesses the item gets to be next to spy.
Sleeping Bag Race
The last few games were relaxing and not physically demanding. This one, however, is anything but.
The premise is simple: have the kids jump into their sleeping bags (potato bags, pillowcases, or sturdy trash bags work too). Then line them up at the starting line and tell them where the finish line is. After that, you only have to give the signal and it’s off to the races – literally.
I’d definitely make this one of the major parts of the camping Olympics event I mentioned earlier. Just make sure your kids shake out their bags after the race, in case they get dirty.
Given its name, you’d think this game should be played before the trip. However, that is not the case.
The rules are pretty straightforward – each kid begins the sentence with “I’m going on a camping trip and I’m going to bring…”. Then they say what they’re going to bring.
Now comes the tricky part – the next kid in the line has to bring the item that starts with the last letter of the previous one. Depending on the said item, it could get pretty challenging – and fun – pretty fast.
Everybody loves charades, right?
This is an awesome game that doesn’t require any special gear or large space. Just a paper, pen, and two teams eager to compete.
Place a bowl or a hat on the ground. Take your pieces of paper and write down a movie, person, or place. Fill the hat with the cards. Then have one person pull out the card and act out the word written there, while the teams try and guess the word. Trust me, this can lead to some hilarious moments!
There’s one important rule – the actor can’t say the word on the card!
If you’re stumped for ideas, The Joys Of Boys has a printable sheet with lots of suggestions you can use – I highly recommend you check it out.
This game is ideal for those hot summer days where you just want to pour some water on your head to cool off.
Line up kids in a straight line and give each kid one empty drinking cup. Then, fill up the cup of the kid in the front of the line.
Now the fun begins. Without looking back, he or she has to pour the water into the cup of the kid behind him. The other kid tries to catch as much as they can, then repeat the process. Depending on their skill, you might have to refill the cup pretty often, but they won’t be complaining!
Knot Tying Challenge
Now, this is a fun little game you can play in several ways.
You could teach kids several kinds of knots and then have a competition to see who can tie the most knots in 60 seconds. You can also give them several harder knots and have them try to untie them in an allocated time. Either way, the kids will have a lot of fun and will develop their problem-solving skills.
Capture The Flag
This game is a classic – and for a good reason.
To properly play this game, you’ll need two teams and a large area you’ll divide between them. Obviously, you’ll need flags too, but if you’re short on those you can use whatever object is nearby.
Then have each team hide the flag somewhere in their territory. The only thing left is to find the enemy’s flag and bring it to your territory before they do the same thing to you. If you get captured in the enemy territory you go to jail, until a teammate of yours can sneak in and free you from captivity.
Overall, it’s a great game that teaches competitiveness in a friendly way – and will provide quite a cardio workout too!
Red Light Green Light
Sometimes you need camping games that just a few kids can play, and in limited space too. In those circumstances, Red Light Green Light is heaven-sent.
The rules go like this: one child is designed as a traffic light. He or she stands towards the kids at first, then turns back and says “Green light!”. The kids behind him then move quickly to tag him.
At any point, he can turn back quickly and say “Red light!”. If anybody is caught moving when he turns around, they are moved back to the starting position. The game ends when someone taps the traffic light on the shoulder – then they are it for the next round.
For a few people who don’t know the rules of this age-old game, here they are:
A person is designated “Simon”. He or she then says ”Simon says…” and then some action. “Simon says – jump on one leg”, for example. Everybody in the group then has to do as Simon commands.
However, if he gives a command without saying “Simon says…” at the beginning, everybody who followed that order is out of the game. The last person standing gets to be Simon in the next round – a worthy reward indeed.
“Tag – you’re it!”
Even after so many years, those words bring back memories.
This game is best played in a large space with a bunch of kids participating – making it an ideal camping game.
How to play it: one kid is “it”. They now have to chase other kids around, and “tag” them by quickly touching them. Now that person is “it” and they have to “tag” someone else. There are often rules about “no tag-backs” meaning you can’t just touch the person who just touched you.
Proving that this game is for all ages, there was recently a movie (based on a true story) about of group of adult friends who play tag each year.
Ring Toss (And Its Variations)
Now the original game is fun by itself – drive a couple of sticks in the ground and have kids toss rings at them.
However, this game shines when you consider all the possible variations of a simple ring toss.
For example, you can make both the rings and the sticks glow in the dark and then play the game at night, adding to the challenge. This post from Feels Like Home explains it in greater detail.
Or how about a human ring toss? Instead of throwing small rings over an even smaller stick, throw some inflatable pool rings over a person! Obviously this is better for the pool, but the possibilities are endless.
Camping Tic Tac Toe
This is probably my personal favorite.
It’s a twist on a famous tic tac toe game, that is both fun to play and doesn’t waste paper.
The premise is simple: get a bunch of natural materials and recreate the game using sticks, pinecones, pebbles, and whatever else you can get a hold of.
Use the sticks to create the grid, and then decide what will be the O, and what will be the X. This will save up a lot of paper in the long run, plus it’s super fun to play tic tac toe on a giant grid.
In a mood for a laugh?
Then gather your family and friends and play the timeless game of telephone.
Here’s how it works:
Everybody sits in a circle. One person thinks of a sentence and then whispers it to the next person. Then that person does the same until it reaches the last person in the circle who says the sentence out loud. It’s usually quite different from the original sentence, often quite humorously so.
So, there you have it – the 20 camping games that are sure to entertain and even educate kids of all ages.
Participating in these games with your kids will not only make them entertained, but it’ll also educate them and teach them important life skills such as communication, handling conflict, not to mention the physical exercise.
They truly are a superb addition to your camping experience and will probably be the highlight of your trip.
If you’re looking for some games that are more geared towards adults, check out these fun outdoor drinking games.
Or check out even more camping activities to keep the whole family busy.
Also read: 15 Tips for Camping with Kids