How Do You Entertain Your Kids While Camping?

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

How do you entertain your kids while camping?

Keep your kids busy

Planning family camping trips can be a lot of work, especially if you have young kids. Keep them busy during the trip by letting them play games that allow them to expend energy, use their imaginations, and enjoy themselves.

12 enjoyable camping games for kids to play outdoors

For sunny days and if your campsite allows for it, have your kids play these classic camping games:

Capture the flag

This involves two teams trying to capture their opponent’s flags and protecting their own at the same time. It can get a little rough for younger campers so save these for older kids.

Tic-tac-toe

A classic game where two players take turns and try to connect their three X’s and O’s and prevent their opponent from doing so.

This game is usually played on paper but during a camping trip, why don’t you utilize nature and use what is lying around like sticks or rocks to play.

Freeze tag

This game is best played in an open space with lots of room to run, ideally with a large group of kids. Whoever the “it” tags get frozen in place and can only move again when another player who hasn’t been tagged touches them. 

Sardine

This game places a fun twist on the classic hide-and-seek. The “it” is the one to hide while every other player looks for them.

Whoever finds “it” has to hide in their hiding place and so forth until they are packed like sardines. The last person to find the hiding place is the next “it”.

Scavenger Hunt

One of the most played outdoor games of all time. It involves players finding items from a list. Take a nature walk and let your kids check off items from their list. It can also serve as a keepsake of the camping trip.

Ring toss

This is not only enjoyable but it also builds hand and eye coordination. You will need some plastic rings (glowstick rings work fine) and a long stick. Drive the stick into the ground and from a set distance, take turns throwing the ring over the stick.

Alphabet game

This is a fun game especially for little kids who have started to discover the world around them.

It involves looking for things in the surrounding area that correspond to a specific letter of the alphabet (i.e “C” can be cows, crows, cowbells, campsite, etc.)

Hide and seek

The classic hide-and-seek involves an “it” closing their eyes and counting 1 to 10 for other players to hide. When “it” finishes counting, they will then look for the other players.

Flashlight tag

This game is hide-and-seek but in the dark. The “it” tries to find the other players by using a flashlight. Keep extra batteries for the flashlight and don’t let your kids hide in places too far from the campsite.

Air pong

Set a plastic cup or ping-pong ball in the center of a table. Divide your kids into two groups and place them on the sides of the table, with their hands behind their backs. On the “GO” signal both teams will try to blow the cup or ball off the opposite team’s side of the table.

Red Light, Greenlight

For this game, you will need no equipment other than a big open space for your kids to run in. Here is how to play the game:

  1. Choose an “it” who will stand a short distance away from the players. 
  2. The other kids face “it” in a line. 
  3. The “it” yells “Green light”, the other players have to run towards “it” and stop when “it” yells “Red light”. 
  4. Any kid who is caught moving after “Red light” has to go back to the starting line.
  5. The game goes on until a player tags “it” then he or she becomes the next “it”.

Sleeping bag race

This game is a variation of the classic sack race. It can be added weight to your luggage when you have to bring them. Replace the sacks with the sleeping bags that you have to bring. Just make sure to air them out after the game.

Camping games inside your tent for kids

For those rainy and overcast days when your kids cannot go outside to play or for the period between dinner and bedtime when nobody is sleepy just yet, entertain your family with these games:

Card games

Easy to carry and to store, card games are the ultimate indoor camping game. With just one deck of cards you can play a multitude of fun games like go fish, rummy, crazy eights, kings in the corner, matching, etc.

You can also bring specialized card games like UNO for hours of laughter and fun with your family.

Treasure hunt

The weather doesn’t permit you to play outside? Don’t worry you can keep your kids occupied by letting them hunt for treasure inside your tent. Hide a puzzle piece in a discreet place and let your kids have fun finding it.

Board games

There are many board games to choose from some are even camping-themed or wilderness-themed. Bring a variety of games that your kids love. Some of the most popular indoor games are:

  1. Jenga
  2. Sorry
  3. Bananagrams
  4. Yahtzee
  5. Trouble
  6. Pictionary
  7. Connect Four

Charades

One of the best classic games, Charades has been played on camping trips for years. This involves players trying to guess a word or phrase (well-known phrases, movie titles, song titles, famous persons, etc)  acted out by a player in front. 

Truth or dare

Truth or dare is a game where the players take turns choosing to tell the truth or do a dare from the other players.

Thumb wrestling

Thumb wrestling involves two players clasping their hands together so that their thumbs face opposite each other. The “thumbs” then wrestle each other and the “thumb” who can pin down their opponent to the count of five, wins the game.

Shadow hand puppets

This game is played using your hands and a flashlight or a lamp. Make shadow shapes with your hands and teach your kids how to make them, too. You can even make a story using your shadow puppets.

Should you allow your kids to use gadgets when camping?

The purpose of camping is to help your kids get away from using gadgets 24/7. This is a good thing as it limits their exposure to the blue light emitted by screens which disrupts our body’s circadian rhythm. Dirt ‘N S’mores advises that you let your kids use their gadgets only during specific times:

  • When you are setting up your campsite or taking down your tents and you don’t need to have them around you
  • When you need some time alone, kids can watch an hour-long movie before bed.
  • When you need extra sleep especially in the mornings when the kids wake up before you do.

What is the best age for kids to begin camping?

Exposing your child to nature should be done at the earliest possible age. Some camper parents choose to camp with babies as young as six months.

When camping with kids, tailor the camping experience to your child or children. Help them to enjoy the experience and also teach them how to be safe while camping.

How to introduce your kids to camping?

Camp in your backyard

Is camping a new experience for your kids? Let them get a feel for it by doing a trial run within your backyard.

Pitch your camping tent, eat and sleep under the stars, basically give them the whole experience in the safety of their home. This will help your child adjust and look forward to going on a real camping trip.

Teach the them to love nature

Help them learn to respect nature by practicing the basic rules of camping even when you are at home:

Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time. 

This teaches them an awareness of the impact that their every action has on the environment. Raise them to be responsible campers that leave the campsite a better place.

Provide kids with extra comfort at the camping

Don’t shock your kids by roughing it on their first camping trip. Remember that the experience is new for them. Think of their comfort: bring pillows, floor pads for a softer bed, heated blankets, etc. 

Bring their toys

Kids in a new environment want something that is familiar to them. Bring their toys or their board games with you.

Having a familiar object with them or doing a familiar activity while on a new experience will help your kids adjust.