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Outdoor Games to Play With Your Kids While Camping

Kate is a mother of two boys and also manages a nanny business in the Sacramento area of California.


Staying up late under the stars, stoking a campfire and chasing fireflies is the epitome of childhood camping memories but let’s be real - it’s 2018 and your kids are probably missing their gadgets and starting to grow weary of smores and foil-wrapped dinners. Keep the “When are we going home” and “why can’t I watch Netflix?” at bay with these fun family games to play with your kids while camping.



You know how to play charades but I bet your kids don’t! Pull out the nearest notebook, coloring book or whatever paper you can get your dirt stained hands on and jot down some seriously silly things to act out. You can go classic charades with themes like “surfing” and “chopping wood” or write down more complicated scenes that can be acted out by a few people at a time, like “bear sneaking up on campers who are eating grilled corn” depending on the number and ages of the people playing.

Once you’ve completed your ideas:

  • Cut or tear your ideas out, fold them in half and throw them in a bag, hat, box - whatever.
  • Split the siblings, cousins and whoever else has tagged along to experience the great outdoors into two teams and flip a coin to decide which team will act out the charades first.
  • One person from the first team will pick a slip and decide how many people from their own are needed to act out the charade in complete silence.
  • The rest of that person’s teammates have 30 seconds to guess what they’re acting out. If they guess correctly, they earn a point.
  • If they don't guess correctly, the second team gets a chance to guess. If they guess correctly, they earn a point.
  • One person from the second team then selects a slip from the bucket and their team gets 30 seconds to guess.
  • The game continues until all the charades have been acted out. The team with the most points wins.

Nature Themed Scavenger Hunt

This is an awesome way to explore nature with your kids. First, create two matching lists of things that can be found near your campsite like a bird’s nest, two red leaves, a toad etc. Next:

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  • Divide your campers into teams of two people, making sure there’s at least one adult on each team to keep track of the kids.
  • Provide each team with the scavenger hunt list and something to mark their discoveries with.
  • Allow the teams 30 minutes to find as many items on the list as possible.
  • The team that has found the most items on the list by the end of the time period wins the scavenger hunt.

Camping Olympics

Keep the kids busy all day long with an exciting game of Camping Olympics. Make sure there’s no active or recent campfires, that sticks and branches are cleared out of the way and that any swimming activities involve proper safety precautions - then start brainstorming your agenda. Getting the kids involved in organizing the events will have them even more invested in winning the gold medal - or a bag of marshmallows - whichever! Some event ideas to get you started include:

  • Relay Race- Divide the group into equal teams and choose something to use as a baton (i.e. stick, paper towel tube, acorn). The first runner passes the baton to the next team member and the race continues on until one team has all of its members finish the race.
  • Water Balloon Toss- Split the group into teams of two. Each team receives a water balloon which they will need to toss back and forth, moving further away from each other with each toss. The last team standing with their balloon still in tact wins the event.
  • Tug of War- You will need a large rope, hula hoop, and strand of yarn for this event. Wrap the yarn around the center of the rope and place it over the hula hoop on the ground. Divide the group into two teams and have each team member grab hold of the rope. Each team pulls on the rope until the portion of the rope with the yarn on it is pulled outside of the hula hoop towards one team. That team wins the event.
  • Skipping Rocks- This is an individual event, where each person gets a rock and skips it across the water. The person that skips their rock the farthest wins the event.

Pass the Water

Totally classic pre-Instagram camping game, Pass the Water is nonsensical fun for any age! All you need for this game is enough cups for each person and water - lake water, hose water, bottled water, any water will do. You can divide the group into teams to make it a competition, or just play as one big group.

  • Stand in a line with each person holding a cup. The line leader's cup is filled with water.
  • The line leader passes the water over their head and tries to pour it into the cup of the person behind them.
  • The game continues until all cups have been filled or the water is gone.
  • If playing as a competition, the team who dumps out all their water first loses.

Musical Camping Chairs

This game gets the kids moving and provides a little break from the noises of nature with some fun music. Musical camping chairs is just like traditional musical chairs except you use camping chairs, which most campsites have an abundance of.

  • Organize the chairs into two rows, with the backs of the chairs facing each other. You will need to use one chair less than the number of people playing the game.
  • Once the music is turned on, the players begin to walk around the chairs. Don't have music? Make some with your mouth! It'll be hilarious.
  • When the music stops, each player has to find a chair to sit in. The person left standing without a chair is eliminated. One chair is removed and the music starts again.
  • The game continues, with one player and one chair being eliminated after each round. The player sitting in the final chair once the music stops is the winner.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Kate Stroud

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