Every good camping trip needs a game or two. Whether you’re camping with little children, teens or adults, this list of 10 camping games will keep your group entertained. All of them are family-friendly, and many of them can be adjusted for levels of difficulty. We’ve even included camping games to play when the sun goes down.
Camping games to get you moving
These games are perfect complements to your outdoor experiences. They’ll require you to explore, move, and get a little dirty.
Nature scavenger hunt
Ah, the scavenger hunt — it’s an oldie but goodie. A scavenger hunt is an exciting way to kick off a camping trip for any group. Do it on a walk through the campground or on a nature trail nearby. Before camping, it’s best to put together a list of outdoor-related things to search for: think heart-shaped rocks, acorns, feathers, 5 different kinds of flowers, and more. Mix easy and challenging items. You can also find pre-made lists online if you’re short on time and just want to press “print.” Don’t take items home; leave the trail treasures where they belong for others to enjoy. Instead of removing items, encourage participants to show someone in your group, take a photo, or use the honor system and then check them off a list.
Pass the water
On a hot day when everyone is craving a cool splash of water, break out the extra water and several lightweight cups (as many cups as participants). Ask players to stand in a line. The first player should have a full cup of water, and dumps the water over his or her head into the next player’s empty cup. This process moves down the line. Oftentimes, people are not accurate with their pouring, so inevitably you will get wet. By the end of the line, there may be no more water! If there is, the person at the end of the line should move to the front so the group can see how far the water can go.
Before you head to your campground, check to see if there are any geocaches on the way there or at the campground itself. Geocaching is a treasure hunt using GPS coordinates found online. There are more than 3 million geocaches hidden all around the world, so there’s a good chance you’ll come close to one. If you’re confused about this whole geocaching business or want to learn more, we wrote a guide explaining how to play!
This game is ideal for groups, and all you need is a soft, cushiony ball. Here are the rules:
- Choose one player for the center. The rest of the players form a circle and are assigned a number.
- The player in the middle shouts out someone’s number and throws the ball straight up.
- The camper whose number was called must catch (or recover) the ball. Everyone else starts running away from the center.
- Once the camper has retrieved the ball, he or she yells “S-P-U-D” and everyone else freezes.
- He or she may take three steps (as big or as small as desired) toward any of the players and throw the ball at him or her.
- The player can dodge the ball, but must not move his or her feet.
- If hit, the player takes an “S.” If the thrower misses, the thrower takes an “S.”
- Once a player reaches “S-P-U-D,” he or she is out.
Little kids with big imaginations will love this activity. Explain to them that there are tiny fairies in the campground and they need a home for the night. Tell the kids that it’s their duty to create small shelters for the fairies so they can rest. For materials, they can use whatever they find around the campground — but fairies only want to sleep in the comfort of natural materials, so human-made objects are not allowed. The young ’uns will enjoy gathering materials (things like foliage, sticks, flowers, rocks, feathers, and pinecones) and crafting the magical houses. After they go to sleep, place a small trinket in the house as “thanks” from the fairies that the kids will discover in the morning. Tell them that the fairies loved their stay, but the houses need to be taken apart and the materials scattered to make it look as if they were never there. Fairies are secretive creatures, after all!
Camping games to play at night
After sunset, your fun doesn’t have to stop. If you’re looking for an addition to spooky stories or campfire songs, these games will do the trick.
Morse code treasure hunt
Not your typical camp game, this is a great nighttime choice for older kids and teenagers who like puzzles. To play, you need a flashlight or headlamp and printable Morse code charts (if possible, laminate them in case of inclement weather). Station a “messenger” across the campsite, as far away as possible, with the light source. The messenger uses the light to flash a Morse code clue to the “spies” across the campsite. The spies can use the clue to figure out where a prize or coveted object is hidden. Whoever finds the prize wins.
A classic family game, charades can easily be played anytime, anywhere — but it’s made more challenging by the light of a campfire. If you’ve never played charades, it’s simple to learn and can be made fun for almost any age. First, fill a jar or hat with slips of paper containing phrases that players can act out. Elect someone to pick a phrase first; whatever phrase is on that paper, the player must act out silently. Add a time limit for extra pressure. Whoever guesses the phrase first goes next. Play to a certain score or simply stop playing when you’re tired. Make your game camping-themed and prepare phrases that revolve around the outdoors (e.g., pitching a tent, building a campfire, making s’mores).
See your name in lights with this activity that’s perfect for camping. Light painting can be done with the whole family, but is great for teenagers or adults who can create more intricate designs. For light painting, you’ll need a DSLR camera, a tripod or stable surface for the camera, a light source (such as a flashlight), and some creativity. With light painting you can write your name, draw an animal, or add some sparkles to your landscape — as long as you’re quick! If you’re not quite sure what light painting is or how to do it, then check out our guide.
Camping conversation games
Since these camping games require no materials, they are ideal for those times when you’re packing light or want to play something on the fly. They’re most fun when you’re with a close group of people.
This activity will get your creativity flowing and help you think on your feet. Simply tell a story with a group of friends or family members by alternating sentences. You can choose a theme or go where the wind takes you. Quite often, stories take hilarious turns and end up drastically different than they began. Kids love the storytelling — but so do adults! On a rainy camping night, you can do this activity in your tent. On a nice night, try it around a campfire after bellies are full.
Would You Rather
Want to learn something new about your fellow campers? During “Would You Rather,” take turns asking others silly, extreme, or thought-provoking questions. Choose two actions and ask players which one they’d rather do — and don’t make it easy on them. Here are a couple examples:
- Would you rather eat a cockroach or never be able to eat your favorite dessert again?
- Would you rather be able to explore another planet and never return, or come in contact with a friendly alien while on Earth?
Questions should be posed with the age group and audience in mind. Little kids will enjoy creating questions, but beware; they will probably hit the “eew, gross!” factor pretty quickly.