With COVID-19 numbers that rise and fall like the stock market, it’s hard to plan your next family trip. But one thing that’s been consistent these past couple years is that outdoor activities are lower risk than indoor ones, so maybe it’s time to break out the tent, pack up the fishing gear, and go on a family camping trip. Once you’re settled into your campsite, you’ll have nothing but beautiful scenery, fresh air and lots of bonding time ahead of you.
But how do you fill those hours, especially if your kids are used to having nonstop wi-fi to keep them connected and entertained? It’s time to think back to your days at sleepaway camp, and break out the analog camping activities and camping games. During the day, you can spend your hours doing lawn games, or find ways to explore the wilderness through scavenger hunts, treasure searches and orienteering activities. Then, when it gets dark, you’ll probably have to stick close to the campfire, so be sure to bring plenty of outdoor-appropriate card and family board games, along with party activities like charades and storytelling activities. And, of course, anything that glows in the dark is fair game for nighttime competitions! When you’re done, they’re not going to miss the wi-fi.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Across the country, people hide “letterboxes” in public places, like parks, and leave clues as to where to find them. If you decipher the clues, you’ll find a box with a logbook where you can leave your personal stamp to prove you’ve been there. You can check to see if there’s a letterbox stashed near your campsite, and check out the basics of how to get started.
Like knitting before it, bird-watching is one of those grandma-and-grandpa hobbies that’s experiencing a resurgence in coolness. Grab some binoculars and see how many different species you can spot.
You’ll need brains, speed and stamina to win at this one. In case you don’t remember the rules: Split up into two teams and designate an area for each. Each team hides a flag in their own area, and the object is to find the other team’s flag and bring it back to your team’s territory. Any player in the opposing team’s territory can be tagged and put in “jail,” and a teammate has to come tag them to rescue them. Get ready to sharpen those teamwork skills!
See if there is a place near your campsite where you can rent stand-up paddleboarding equipment. You’ll work on your balance and core strength while getting to soak in some views.
This game won a Good Housekeeping 2020 Toy Award for its ability to delight kids and adults alike. Players roll two dice in the shape of pigs, and points are awarded based on the position they’re in when they land. It doesn’t require much — just the pigs, a pencil and a scorecard — so it easily slips into a backpack.
It’s like hide-and-seek — in the dark! Whoever is “It” has to shine their flashlight on the hider once they’ve been found. (Just be sure kids are old enough so they don’t get lost too far away from your campsite.)
Whether you call it “skipping stones” or “skimming rocks,” it’s a little thrill when you find the perfect flat rock and watch it hop across the water. See who in your party can get a stone to skip the most number of times.
Find a trail, chart a course and go! Hiking gets your body moving and puts you out in nature, and basically embodies all the reasons to go camping in the first place.
Charades is simple: People write down clues on a piece of paper, and players have to act them out and get their teammates to guess their clue without saying a word. Once you’ve mastered Charades, you can move on to Celebrity, where all the clues have to be a famous person (real, fictional, alive or dead). The game is then played in three rounds.
Round 1: Players can urge their teammates to guess their clue using words as hints, so long as the words are not written on the paper (like Taboo).
Round 2: Once all the clues from Round 1 are guessed, the same papers go back in the bowl for Round 2. This time, players can only use a single word as a hint for their teammates.
Round 3: The same papers go back in the bowl again, and the last round is a wordless charades round. No talking!
Bait your hook, cast your line and see if you have any luck. In the end, it doesn’t even matter if you catch a big one — you’ll remember the conversations and the bonding time.
Mad Libs have been around forever, and yet they never get old. Young and old alike find themselves giggling over the silly fill-in-the-blank stories that result from naming random nouns, verbs or adjectives.
Pick out a fun float, paddle yourself out into a sunny spot and just relax — isn’t that why you went camping to begin with?
You don’t even need a telescope to try out some stargazing. If you’re not practiced at identifying different planets and constellations, there are plenty of apps that can tell you what you’re looking at — and many of them are even free.
Hold ’em, Spit or even Solitaire, what’s your game? No matter what you choose, stick a pack of waterproof playing cards into your backpack and you’ll never be stuck for something to do.
There’s a long, artistic tradition of creating masterpieces en plein air, out in the open of nature. Pack some sketchbooks and art supplies, find a picturesque spot and see if inspiration strikes.
No doubt, you’ve played some version of “the exquisite corpse” at a party: You write a portion of a story on a piece of paper, then fold the paper down so that everything but the last sentence or so is obscured. Then you pass it on to the next player, who continues writing based only on the words that remain visible. At the end, choose a player to do a dramatic reading of the whole thing, which is no doubt hilariously disjointed.
If it’s hot out, a water-balloon battle might be just the thing to cool everyone down. Who needs a lake?
There’s nothing wrong with the good ol’ marshmallow, graham cracker and chocolate recipe, but this is your opportunity to experiment. Try salted caramel s’mores, Thin Mint s’mores, or come up with your own crazy combinations. See who is able to come up with the tastiest creation.
This is an easy-to-figure-out family card game where the object is to “toast” three marshmallow cards. Seems thematically perfect for a camping trip, no?
You’ll cover more ground in a kayak than you will on a hike — and you’ll have so much fun doing it! Maybe you’ll leave your camping trip with bigger arm muscles, too.
If you have kids with you, give them paper bags send them off to make a collection: of rocks, of interesting leaves, of acorns or whatever else strikes their fancy. When they come back, they can do a show-and-tell with their finds.
Another lawn game that tests your tossing precision, kubb is like a cross between bowling, bocce and horseshoes. The object is to knock over wooden blocks, which naturally appeals to kids.
If you ever wanted to run away with the circus to be a tightrope walker, you might have what it takes to master the slackline. Camp near two trees, throw the line between them and see if you can keep your balance.
This activity comes with 50 cards, each containing a conversation-provoking question thought up by kids — you just have to choose one, and everyone can take turns giving their answer. Best of all, this game packs up small and comes with a carabiner to clip it to your bag, so it’s not a hassle to pack.
A game that also teaches a skill: Hide some kind of dollar-store treasure a short walk from your campsite, and then give your kids a map and directions to try and find it. For older kids, you can use a real map; for younger ones, you might have to make your own simplified version. Map-reading skills will stick with them their whole lives, even in this GPS-ready world.
Toss a Magical Flame pouch into your campfire to make your camping experience feel more mystical and magical — through colorful flames! Note: The flames look cool, but you can’t cook over them.
Place one small piece of paper per person in a jar, bowl, or hat. All of the papers should have nothing but a star drawn on them except two: one of those should have and “D” written on it, and the other should have an “M.” Each person chooses a piece of paper, and whoever gets the “D” is the detective, and the “M” is the murderer. The murderer proceeds to “kill” people by making eye contact in winking; the victims get to make a big, dramatic show of dying. The detective is challenged with figuring out who the murderer is before all the victims are killed.
This is another game you can play throughout the weekend. The first person to get five across, up and down, or diagonally wins!
Do you remember this old card game? Place a bunch of spoons (or fork, or twig or pinecone) in the center of a table; there should be enough for every person to have one, except one person. Then deal four cards to every player, and leave them face-up on the table. The dealer than takes cards one at a time from the deck, she can either keep it, or pass it to her left. The player to the left takes the card from the dealer and also can either keep it or pass it to the left, while at the same time the dealer picks up a second card from the deck. The play continues seamlessly until someone gets four of a kind. That person grabs a spoon from the center. Once that happens, everyone races to grab their own spoon, and the one left empty-handed is the loser.
Obstacle courses and team relay races are great because you can design them with whatever you have on hand. Jump ropes, hula hoops and water balloons can all be strung together in a series of mini-challenges that can be tailored to your kids’ abilities.
You’ve got lots of room in the great outdoors — take advantage with an oversized lawn-dice version of Yahtzee. Don’t forget the dry-erase scoring sheets!
Darkness adds another layer of challenge to some simple outdoor games. You can make a target game out of glow-in-the-dark frisbee, or even attempt an Ultimate game.
Don’t forget Jenga! Of course, this stacking-block game is fun to play in daylight, but if you get too comfortable with your skills, you can try it after sundown.
Morse code is one of those almost-lost skills that’s still totally fun to play around with. Send an adult into the woods with a flashlight, and have them flash a message in morse code for the rest of the family to decipher.
Word games like Bananagrams are great because, like Camp Talk, they don’t require much room to pack — sorry, Scrabble — and they can also be a great go-to for rainy days. Bring them. Trust us.
You’ve already brought your sleeping bags with you. Put them to work doubling as potato sacks, and set up a family sack race.
This game is like a cross between Pictionary and Telephone, complete with miscommunication, bad sketches and all-around hilarity. The best part is that everyone is always playing at the same time, for every round, so there’s no getting bored while waiting for your turn.
Have extra marshmallows from your S’mores? Everyone should put one in their mouth and try to say the phrase “Chubby Bunny.” No problem? Okay, then get another one, and see if you can say it with two marshmallows in your mouth. Keep going until you can’t say it, either because your mouth is too full, or you’re laughing too hard.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below