Ten Camping Games that will Win Your Kids' Hearts

One of the biggest concerns of parents when camping with kids is boredom. No matter how beautiful nature and the outdoors is, kids will still be kids, and as such will look for something else to do aside from admiring panoramic views of the landscapes or telling stories by the campfire or inside your tent.

So if you're looking for something to keep your kids happy and occupied in your next camping trip, check out our list of ten camping games that your kids will definitely enjoy.

Hunting Games

Kids will have a grand time exploring nature and the outdoors when playing any of these hunting games. Photo by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (commons.wikimedia.org).

This is one of the classic camping games that kids enjoy playing ever since. Nowadays, there are many versions of the game, but the basic rules and objectives are all the same - that is, to be able to find all the items in the given list. The winner of the game will be the first person to complete all the items in the list, so the game can last anywhere between less than a day or until the end of the camping trip.

Here are some variations of the game. You can choose to play one of the following, or all of them if you want to push your kids hunting skills.

Scavenger hunt

Basically, what you will need is a list and a paper bag where the kids can put all the items that they found. For older kids, a list will do just fine, but for younger ones, it might be more fun to print out pictures of the things to look for instead of written words. You can attach these to their paper bags to make that they don't lose them as well.

Also, for younger kids, it might be better to make the number of items minimal, say ten to fifteen or so - that should make it a bit challenging but not altogether too difficult for them. If you are having trouble making your list, you can search the internet for free outdoor scavenger hunt list and print them out. You can also get your kids to bring along their cameras so they can take pictures of the things that they can't put in their bags, like squirrels or deer.

Alphabet Hunt

In this version of the hunting game, you need to prepare a paper with the different letters of the alphabet like this:

The objective of the game is to look for things in the camp and the outdoors that starts with the different letters of the alphabet, and the first person to complete the list wins the game. Check out this list of things that you can tell your kids to look for.

Camping Bingo

Here is another version of the hunting game making use of bingo cards. It would be best that you prepare the materials at home with your kids days ahead before heading to camp.

First, you need to download blank bingo card templates from Google or any other search engine of your choice. Then, print them out and hand each child with one or two of those blank cards. Now, ask them to draw on their cards the things that they expect to see while out camping. Make sure that they have plants (dead trees can be included or wilted flower), animals, and things made by man like sign posts. You can also ask them to include water systems like rivers and lakes and streams.

You can start playing the game once you get to camp, or for a later time like when you go hiking.

Like in a normal bingo game the winner is the one who first forms horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines.

Camping Olympics

If you are looking for something more physically challenging, then you can hold a camping Olympics for you and your kids. As the name suggests, you can play some of the games that are played in the Olympics, but with some modifications. For example, you can hold a swimming contest in the camp's pool or the lake (be sure swimming is allowed and always keep your eyes peeled for any mishaps). You can also do a long jump contest in the sandy shores of the lake or beach. You can play discuss throw using a paper plate (be sure to throw it the discuss way and not like a Frisbee) or javelin using straws taped together. You can make your own versions of the Olympic Games with a little creativity and imagination.

Toss Games

Toss games are very popular not only among kids but also among the adults. This is not physically demanding, but requires a steady hand and a good eye. Like hunting games, there are also various kinds of toss games available.

Horseshoe Toss

Horseshoe toss is one of the well-known versions of toss games. What you'll need are several horseshoes (three or four should do) and some pegs. To make it more fun, you can play at night using these glow-in-the-dark horseshoe and pegs. If you aren't familiar with the game, watch this short video which gives an overview of the game and outlines the scoring rules.

Ring Toss

Ring toss makes use of rings instead of horseshoes, and sometimes more pegs or bottles. In one variation of the game, you'll need to set up six bottles or pegs of varying colors in a straight line or a square, and the players must "ring" the right color in order to win. Like horseshoes, there are also a glow-in-the-dark rings for those looking to play into the night.

You don't have to spend loads of cash for those camping game equipments. A little creativity and resourcefulness will not only save you money but also ensure hours of fun. Photo from saritarobinson on Flickr.

Bean Bag Toss

Another version of toss games in this list is bean bag toss or Corn Hole. Like the previous two toss games mentioned there are various ways that this game can be played. Here is one version with the rules and equipments you'll need, and here is a DIY version which you can do with a cardboard.

Coin Toss

This final version of toss games is pretty much what the name suggests, and like the other three, it also has various variations. For one, you can lay out colored paper plates on the ground which is where you and the kids are supposed to land the coins. To make it difficult, you can use plastic cups instead of paper plates, which is narrower and offers more challenge.

Board games

Board games are a definite must have whenever you go camping with kids. No matter what the weatherman says, the weather can be quite unpredictable and you and your kids may find yourselves holed up in your tents for the afternoon. In down times like these, you'll be happy you brought a board game along. There are many board games available. You can choose to play one of those classic board games that you used to play when you were younger like Scrabble, Monopoly or Clue, or you can try any of these new board games released to the market not so long ago.

Card Games

Card games are wonderful alternative to board games and are equally as fun when played during camp down time.

If your kids are old enough, you can start teaching them how to play Poker or Black Jack. There are also child friendly games that you can play using this deck of cards. A personal favorite is "Killer" where a "killer" tries to "kill" the other players without being caught by the "police". Here's how you play it:

  • The number of cards will depend on the number of players, so if there are 5 players, there should be five cards.
  • Out of those five cards, there should be a Jack and an Ace. The other cards can be any card from the deck.
  • The cards are then distributed to the players. The one who gets the Jack will be the "killer", while the one who gets the Ace is the "police".
  • The "killer" starts "killing" the other players by staring at them and giving signs like winking or twitching the corners of his or her mouth.
  • The "killer" must be careful not to wink or show signs to the "police" in order not to get caught.

Aside from the traditional 52 card deck, you can also bring other card games for kids which will surely provide a good time for the whole family.

The main idea behind camping in the outdoors is having a fun time together as a family inside your tent or out, and enjoying any or all of these games mentioned here is just one of the ways to realize that goal.