Wee Ones Camping

Fun camping games for kids

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter April Outdoor Living Newsletter
A child plays parachute
An ecstatic child having fun

A family camp-out can be a great experience of bonding and fun. While adults tend to enjoy the serene nature and the joys of being together, children need entertainment. Luckily, camping provides many unique opportunities for exploration, games, and fun activities to keep everyone happy.

Every stage of a camping trip has the chance to be made into something great. Whether it's during the drive to the campground, hanging out around the fire, or the time before you go to sleep and right when you wake up, opportunities abound to make the trip special.

For parents, one of the most dreaded parts of any road trip is the drive to the campground. Children are finnicky and can't stand to sit still for too long. So how do you keep them entertained and settled throughout the ride? During the drive to your destination educate your children about about where they are going and what they will see. Get the conversation flowing by quizzing each other about common insects, plants, and trees; "Did you know that grasshoppers can jump 40 times the length of their body? Did you know that about one third of the United States of America is covered by forests?". This should keep the children occupied and entertained during the ride. It will also give them something to look forward to when you arrive at the campground.

Once you've arrived at the campground the true fun begins for the children; they can now explore all of the insects, plants, and trees they learned about during the ride. Hand out a magnifying glass to each and they will run wild with excitement as they investigate insects and plant life more closely. Chances are they will be excited to show you and their new-found friends what they have discovered.

If the children tire of running free around the campground don't fear, there are plenty of other games you can throw their way. Try one-hundred inch hike, alphabet nature hunt, or nature bingo. For the one-hundred inch hike you will need to have a one-hundred inch long string (eight feet and four inches) and ask the children to make a circle around a fixed point with the string as the radius. Then ask them to explore this small area with their magnifying glasses and see how much they can find. The soil, bugs, and grass should keep them entertained for a while.

You can also try alphabet nature hunt. With alphabet nature hunt each person must try to make a list of something they see with every letter. Things like "tree" or "rock" are too broad. This kind of task challenges the children to learn more about the nature they encounter. For nature bingo, make a few bingo cards with various plants, trees, and animals. When a tree, plant or animal on the card is spotted it can be marked off, just like in regular bingo. First player with bingo wins!

As the sun goes down the fun continues. Making fun food like s'mores and roasted sausages is always entertaining for the kids and provides a great opportunity for kids to learn about fire safety, camping courtesy, and Leave-No-Trace principles. Classic games are another way to keep the kids entertained. Charades is always best by fire-light, as are riddles and ghost stories.

When the sun rises frustrations can mount quickly. But with a little bit of trickery, you can transform what is usually a hassle into an enjoyable experience for yourself and the children. The trick? Just add a little competition. First child awake, dressed, and ready gets a special treat of candy at breakfast or an extra souvenir on that days trips. How's that for motivation?!

Competitions like the waking up challenge can really fuel the laughs and help to keep the children interested in the vacation. So can the disposable camera game. With the disposable camera game, each child is given a camera to take pictures with, and when they pictures are developed the family picks the five best photos.

Just like the disposable camera game, it is always best to play into your children's interests and skills. If they are sporty, then engage them in athletic activities. If they are artisic then bring along colored pencils and paper to draw the scenery or bring crayons or coal to make rubs of plants, trees, and rocks. Some of these activities are also serve to expand their skills and teach them new interests. No matter what the interest of the child, keeping them active and entertained throughout your camping trip will make the trip more enjoyable for all and will provide a tremendous foundation for the family to connect and bond. And that is what the camping experience is all about.

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