Camping with kids makes memories, teaches everything from survival skills to creativity, and builds community. Take these camping activities for kids with you to make your camping trip memorable and momentous.
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1. Read books about camping
Before you go, read these books about camping. Especially for first-time campers, getting a sneak peek into what makes camping great will build excitement and help kids connect to the experience once they’re at the campground.
2. Sing all the songs
Singing around the campfire is a camping must-do. Here are all the camping songs you need, with lyrics to jog your memory.
3. Go on a nature hike
Take advantage of being at a campsite by hiking. Aim to pass by local landmarks, waterfalls, or overlooks.
Learn more: Make Walking Outdoors Fun/Thimble and Twig
4. Press leaves and flowers
After your hike, show campers how to press leaves and flowers into frameable art.
Buy it: Beginner flower press kit at Amazon
5. Make tree rubbings
Bring paper and crayons. Put the paper against different types of bark to create rubbings that show the different tree bark textures.
Learn more: Tree Bark Identification/Good and Beautiful
6. Turn chores into games
Camping involves a lot of work. Turn chores into fun camping activities by engaging kids in a little friendly competition. See who can gather the most kindling or sweep out the tent the fastest.
7. Hold an Iron Chef camp competition
When it’s time to cook over the Sterno, treat it like Iron Chef. Lay out the ingredients and see how people combine them. Some ideas for themes:
- Oatmeal: Add in walnuts, raisins, maple syrup, fresh blueberries.
- Pizza: Cook the dough and add cheese and toppings.
- Quesadillas: Put cheese in between two tortillas and wrap in aluminum foil. Cook over the fire.
- Skewers: Cook meat, fruit, and veggies on skewers.
8. Go fishing
Camping is time for the simpler things in life, like standing on the shore and waiting patiently to catch your dinner. Fishing also teaches patience and, if you do catch a fish, about what wildlife live under the water.
Learn more: Teaching Kids How To Fish/Salt Strong
9. Play flashlight tag
Flashlight tag is like hide-and-seek but with flashlights. When the flashlight lands on you, you’re it.
10. Put on a puppet show
Use a flashlight in the tent to make shadow puppets. The great thing about it is that people in the tent as well as those still outside can enjoy watching the shadows on a tent wall.
11. Make your own tic-tac-toe or checkers game
Find enough rocks, sticks, and leaves to create your own tic-tac-toe or checkers game. If you don’t have anything to use as a board, you can draw one in the dirt or sand.
Learn more: DIY Checkerboard/Moms Collab
12. Go letter boxing
Letter boxing is when people hide “letter boxes” in public places and leave clues about how to find them. If you find the box, you can leave your stamp to show you found it.
13. Tell campfire stories
Sit around the campfire and tell stories—funny, silly, or scary.
Learn more: Thrilling and Scary Campfire Stories
Buy it: Campfire Stories Deck for Kids at Amazon
14. Watch birds
Bring binoculars, sit quietly, and see how many different birds you can spot. The Audubon Society has a free birding app that will help you learn about the birds you see.
Learn more: Ways To Get Kids Into Birding
15. Make friendship bracelets
Camping is the perfect time to learn a new skill. Friendship bracelets will entertain kids who are already interested in crafts, plus they create a souvenir of your trip.
16. Skip stones
If you’re camping near water, when the water is calm, collect the smoothest stones and see how many skips you can get out of each one.
Learn more: How To Skip Rocks/Rhythms of Play
17. Play ring toss
Ring toss is a game that kids of all ages can join in on—even the youngest who may have to walk up to drop their ring on the stand.
Learn more: Backyard Ring Toss Game/Diva of DIY
Buy it: Ring Toss Game at Amazon
18. Up your s’mores game
S’mores are a must at any campsite. Bring a variety of ingredients, and see who can make the most creative s’mores. Some ideas of what to pack:
- Jelly or berries
- Peanut butter
- Cookies (Thin Mints would be delish!)
Learn more: S’mores Recipes/Shared Appetite
19. Sketch what you see
Pack a notebook and colored pencils. Take a hike to an overlook or place where everyone can sit. Then, have everyone sketch what they see. Notice who draws a panoramic view vs. who chooses to sketch something close up.
20. Play Toasted or Roasted
Toasted or Roasted is a family card game with a simple objective: to “toast” three marshmallow cards.
Buy it: Toasted or Roasted at Amazon
21. Race in sleeping bags
You’ve already brought your sleeping bags with you. Have a sleeping bag race by lining up, climbing into the sleeping bags, and hopping from one end of the campsite to the other.
Learn more: Organized Campouts/Open Wide the World
22. Play Chubby Bunny
More fun with marshmallows! Give everyone a handful of marshmallows. One at a time, add a marshmallow to your mouth and say “chubby bunny.” The winner is the person who can put the most marshmallows in their mouth and say “chubby bunny” without laughing or spitting out marshmallows.
23. Create pebble art
Hunt for pebbles and rocks, then put them in a design for others to find. The more rocks you find, the more creative you can get with your designs and sculptures.
24. Look for signs of animals
Finding animals, or evidence of animals, around a campsite is a fun camping activity for kids. Rather than waiting for the animals to come to you, go on a hunt to find animal tracks or scat to see what animals you may be sharing a campsite with.
25. Read in a hammock
Reading outside is underrated. String a hammock between two trees for the perfect reading spot (if the rocking doesn’t lull you to sleep).
Buy it: Camping Hammock at Amazon
26. Play card games
When it’s time for a break, card games are a great camping activity to help kids relax and unwind.
Learn more: Card Games That Kids Love
27. Make a stick maze
Find all the sticks you can and arrange them in a stick maze. See how many different maze designs you can make with your stick collection.
Learn more: Build a Maze Using Sticks/Mother Natured
28. Make a shelter
Practice real survival skills by finding the fallen wood and putting it together to make a shelter or fort. Here are various ways to build a shelter with just a tarp and materials from the woods.
29. Learn how to start a fire
Fire safety is an important skill for kids who love to camp (and all kids, really). Spend time teaching your child to start a fire safely using sticks, twigs, and other flammable material.
What activities do you like to do on camping trips with kids? Share in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out more Nature Crafts and Activities.