Fun Things to do when Camping with Family
If you are new to camping, it may feel overwhelming to consider what you will do with your family for full days outdoors. For experienced campers, your routine may have gotten stale and you are ready for some new ideas to spice up your camping trips. Camping offers the opportunity to enjoy being outside and to spend time away from electronics and other distractions, while focusing on your loved ones.
When planning to camp with your family, particularly with children, it is a good idea to have some ideas of things to do. The activities that you plan can serve multiple functions; you will be able to keep your group active and engaged, while building memories that everyone can look back on fondly. Here are some fun things to do with your family on your next camping trip.
Be Sneaky with Activity
Parents may love hiking, however kids are often less enthusiastic. Creating a scavenger hunt is a great way to get those who are not real interested in hiking more involved (and less likely to complain). There are a few ways to go about this; one is to create a scavenger hunt around what you know you will see on a particular trail or around your campground. You can look for rocks and leaves in a certain shape, or look for a particular bird or squirrel for example.
Another way to approach a scavenger hunt will require a greater investment of time, but can be a lot of fun for everyone involved.If you have the time, go ahead and place items in different locations for the hunters to find. You can even come up with riddles that need to be solved so that the participants know where to look for the items they are seeking. Members of your family will be so busy looking for the items on their list they may not notice all of the walking they are doing.
You can also create your own obstacle course, an idea that my kids came up with, perhaps as a result of spending too much time watching American Ninja Warrior. There is no better place to do this than in the wilderness and this is one of my favorite family camping activities. There are plenty of natural “obstacles” and as long as I help them choose a good location I don’t have to worry about them barreling into other people. Adults can participate too, which will likely get some laughs out of the kids. I will usually let my kids’ video tape my efforts, which means they can laugh again and again.
Just Add Water
Water is appealing to both kids and adults. If you will be camping near a body of water, a lake or a river for example, make sure to be prepared for some water activities. Water shoes are inexpensive and will help to make rocky rivers and lakes walkable. Tubes can be a lot of fun, either for tubing down the river or floating in a lake. Kayak and canoe rentals are often available at lakes, and it is an affordable activity to rent one for an hour or two to explore your surroundings. Fishing is another great thing to try; you might even be able to catch your dinner!
Just because you are not near a water source does not mean that you cannot make water a part of your camping trip. If you will be staying at a campground that offers water, bring along a small kiddy pool that you can fill and let your kids splash around in. You can also consider filling up water balloons and cool off by having a water balloon toss, or if your kids are older, a water balloon fight.
Choose your own Adventure
Being outdoors offers the opportunity to embark on pretend play. Depending on the age of the kids you are camping with, you can pretend any number of scenarios. My kids love the show “Man vs. Wild” and camping gives them the perfect backdrop to take on the role of a stranded adventurer looking to survive in the wild. Come up with different scenarios and create your own adventures. You can even use your phone to make your own videos.
For younger kids, they can “help” cook with their own toy pots and pans. They can teach their doll or stuffed friend that came on the trip all about camping. Older kids will enjoy creating their own scenarios, with or without your participation. Kids of all ages may enjoy building a fort with the materials they find near the campsite. They can design and create the fort, and then spend time enjoying (and showing off) their private space.
Time under the Tarp or in the Tent
Realistically, you and your family will not be able to remain physically active during the entire camping trip. With all of the activity available, there will be times you are tired and need some down time. During those times, as well as when it rains, there are plenty of family camping games that can be played with a deck of cards. A simple game like “war” can keep young kids occupied for quite some time. There is also “go fish”, poker, rummy and more. You can even try building a house of cards.
If you tire of the cards, pull out a notebook and play a game of “dots’. Setting up the game is easy; make 20 rows of 20 dots to start. The first player can connect two dots and then each player will take a turn. Go around in order. Once a player creates a box when they connect the dots, they will write their initials in the box. They will then go again. Each time they make a box, they will get another chance to connect two dots. Once there are no more boxes to connect, count the number of boxes each person has their initials in. The player with the most boxes is the winner.
You can also spend time reading in the tent or by the campfire and telling stories. While some may enjoy telling ghost stories, you can choose to tell any type of stories that you like. The campfire is a wonderful place to build family memories.
Fun with Food
Camping offers the opportunity to cook different types of foods than you would at home. You can roast hot dogs over the campfire; even using a metal rake. Or you can create full meals wrapped in tin foil and cooked over an open fire. These are great because every camper can choose what they want to put in their tin foil, allowing everyone to personalize their meal.
And of course we can’t forget dessert. Even those who don’t like S’mores tend to enjoy roasting marshmallows. Another popular dessert is “worms in dirt”, which consists of crushed Oreo cookies mixed with cool whip and gummy worms hiding in the “dirt”.When it comes to camping meals, there are plenty of options that will bring a smile to the face of your pickiest eaters.
Please share your favorite fun things to do when camping. What do you and your family members enjoy doing?