Camping is a great bonding experience for families with kiddos of all ages. Spending time with the ones you love in the great outdoors is an awesome experience in and of itself, but family camping trips are even better when they include a variety of fun activities the family can do together. It just takes a bit of advance planning to be prepared with plenty of ideas that will help keep the kids busy and everyone entertained.
Stargazing After Supper
It's amazing to look at the night sky when you're out in nature. Help your family get into the habit of taking in the spectacular show in the night sky for at least a little while every evening by setting aside a bit of time for stargazing after supper. Use these printable start charts for kids to enhance the activity, or have everyone with a cell phone download a stargazing app such as Sky Map or Star Tracker. You may even want to set up a telescope.
Camp-in Movie Night
Enjoy a unique family movie night in the great outdoors by hanging a sheet or tarp on the side of your RV or between a few trees to make your own movie screen. Connect a projector to a DVD player or computer and display a family-friendly movie. Set up lawn chairs or blankets in front of the screen and put out a selection of snacks on the picnic table. Be sure to time the movie so it's fairly dark when it starts but that the show is over long before quiet hours come to a close.
Add a sense of adventure to your family hikes by getting involved with geocaching. This popular outdoor activity is basically a tech-driven treasure hunt. To get started, simply download a geocaching app, then look in the app to see where there are hidden objects in your area. Go on a hunt to find objects, then note your victory in the app. There are geocaches hidden everywhere, so this can become an ongoing family activity. Your group may even want to start placing geocaches for others to find.
Look up the events calendar on the websites of any state parks, national parks, or other government-operated preserves near where you are staying and find out what kinds of ranger programs are going on during your trip. These locations often sponsor family-oriented wildlife walks, interpretive programs, animal exhibits, and other special events led by park rangers. These activities are usually free or cost only a few dollars.
If you're camping near a lake or river, consider setting aside some time to enjoy a family paddling adventure. You can take your own canoes or kayaks if you have them, but that's not necessary. Chances are that there is a watersports outfitter near the place where you are staying where you can rent equipment or even sign up to participate in a group outing with a river guide. They may even offer pick-up and drop-off services for your campground.
DIY Tie-dye T-shirts
Rather than purchasing overpriced T-shirts for each member of the family every time you go camping, make it a family tradition to create your own tie-dye T-shirts at your campsite. Armed with plastic buckets and a few basic supplies, your family will have a blast creating their own unique souvenir t-shirts. Opt for dye colors relevant to the area you're visiting, such as the colors in the state's flag, the colors for local sports teams, or colors related to local tourist attractions.
The family that camps together is a family that really needs to know how to tie knots. Why not turn your campground into a classroom by spending some quality time mastering the art of knotting rope? If there is a family member who has mad knot-tying skills, that person can lead the lesson. Otherwise, you can stream an instructional video like the one below. You'll have a lot of fun with your family while building an important survival skill.
Speaking of survival skills, building a campfire is a key part of most camping outings. Rather than having this be a chore that's just for the grown-ups, turn the act of campfire construction into a fun family activity that's as educational as it is enjoyable. Choose a specific type of campfire structure and walk the kiddos through how to set it up, including where and how to place the wood so that it's just right to light (by an adult) and will soon be ready to toast some marshmallows.
No camping trip is complete without a night of storytelling beside the campfire. While you may want to reserve the scariest stories for after the youngest kiddos have gone to sleep, everyone is sure to enjoy a few funny campfire tales. From campfire stories for kids to spooky ghost stories for teens and adults, there are plenty of tales to tell. Encourage each family member to tell their own story, which they can find online or in a book to read or invent on their own.
Family Skit Night
Rather than having one person at a time tell a story, consider getting multiple families members into the game by performing campfire skits. Large families can divide into casts, with each group putting on its own skit and performing for the others. With smaller groups, get the entire family involved in the performance. After all, the fun is in the play-acting; an audience isn't necessarily required.
Family Dance Party
For an active early evening activity at the campground, hold a family dance party after dinner. Put together a playlist of great dance songs before you go camping. On dance party night, each family member can take a turn teaching everyone else a dance step that they know. The grown-ups will get to learn some new dances from their kids, while the kiddos can master line dances and old-school favorites like the hustle and the twist. Be sure to finish up prior to quiet hours at the campground.
DIY Souvenir Rock Painting
If you'll be camping near a stream or another area where rocks are plentiful, set aside some time for the group to engage in a bit of rock gathering followed by rock painting. This is a fun and low-cost way for everyone to be able to create their own unique do-it-yourself souvenir of the camping trip. Just pack some acrylic paint and cheap paintbrushes to prepare for a super-fun afternoon of creative family fun at the campsite.
Paint By Numbers
For another fun way to pass time at the campground while also creating cool DIY keepsakes, purchase paint-by-numbers sets in advance of the trip. Choose designs that reflect where the trip took place. Set aside a chunk of time for everyone to set up an area to work on their creation. Each person should sign their finished piece. Consider designating a travel wall at home where these paintings can be displayed. What a great way to bring fond family camping memories home with you.
Urge the kiddos to gather interesting-looking leaves during hikes or from around the campground. Clear off the campsite picnic table and spread the leaves out on a table upside down (with the raised veins facing up). Set out some plain white paper and a selection of crayons so each family member can create their own leaf art. This simply requires placing a sheet of paper on top of a leaf, then rubbing the crayon over the leaf to create an impression of it. Repeat to create a lovely leaf-filled page.
If you're looking for a fun game to play in the RV or tent or at the picnic table, Yahtzee is a great option for a bit of friendly competition among family members. It comes in a compact box, so it's easily portable for camping. Adults enjoy playing Yahtzee just as much as kids, so it's a great way for everyone to pass downtime while camping. Keep a tally throughout the trip and crown a Yahtzee champion before heading home.
Kid-friendly Dice Games
Yahtzee isn't the only dice-related activity that can add fun and excitement to family camping trips. There are a number of easy dice games for kids to play that grownups can join in, including some options for the littles who aren't ready to step up to Yahtzee quite yet. Everyone can play the same game together, or the little kids can do their thing while the adults and teenagers set up a spot nearby to play some more advanced dice games.
Family Card Games
Be sure to pack a few decks of cards when you head out for a family camping adventure. Cards are great to have on hand when boredom strikes or the weather drives you into your tent, RV, or the campground's gathering room. The whole family can play card games together, or people can play in pairs, in small groups, or even on their own. There are a lot of easy card games for kids, as well as many family card games appropriate for a wide variety of ages.
Charades Party Game
Share some laughs and put each family member's acting skills to the test with a rousing game of charades at the campsite. Plan ahead by printing this charades word list for kids before you leave home so you'll have quick and easy access to charades terms appropriate for family members of all ages. If the kiddos are older, you may want to opt for a selection of challenging charades words. Have each player draw a word and act it out. The first person to guess correctly goes next.
Pictionary Party Game
If your family prefers drawing to acting out words, and you have room to pack a stand-up flip chart or a dry-erase easel, it can be a lot of fun to play Pictionary at your campsite. As with charades, you'll want to plan ahead by printing some word lists in advance of your camping trip. If there are young kids in the family, these Pictionary words for kids are great to use. To challenge adults and teens, these themed Pictionary word ideas are ideal.
Campground Scavenger Hunt
Adapt this nature scavenger hunt game to focus specifically on things that can be found within a reasonable distance of your campsite. Family members of all ages are sure to have a great time hunting down items and competing to be the first individual or team to find everything. For maximum flexibility, you may want to use this blank printable scavenger hunt template to design your own game.
Day and Night Cornhole
Cornhole is a popular outdoor family game, but it's generally reserved for the daytime when it's easy to see the board. If your family dearly loves cornhole and struggles to come up with nighttime entertainment for the campground, consider taking your cornhole game to the next level by investing in a cornhole board that lights up at night. For less than $30, you can get a regulation cornhole set featuring battery-operated LED lights that shine through the ring and illuminate the sides.
Family-friendly Board Games
It's always a good idea to pack at least a few board games that your family enjoys playing whenever you head out on a camping adventure. When choosing board games for a family trip, including a few classic options that kids and adults can enjoy playing together. Clue and/or Clue Junior are good options, as are Parcheesi and Sorry. You may even want to purchase portable travel versions of some of your family's absolute favorites to keep in your RV or with your tent camping gear.
So Many Fun Camping Activities for Families
No matter what activities you choose to help make the most of family time in the great outdoors, the time you spend camping together will lead to priceless memories that will last a lifetime. There are so many fun activity options to consider! Whether you stick with camping activities from the list above or you explore even more camping games for kids, you're sure to come up with a lot of great ideas that will provide hours of entertainment and family bonding. The activities that find their way into most camping trips will soon become family traditions that your kids will likely go on to share with their own children one day.