Games and Activities to Keep Kids Busy on a Camping Trip

Camping with kids can create lifelong memories, but if you let them sit idle for too long, you'll soon hear "I'm bored". Don't let that happen. Check out these fun ideas to keep your little ones occupied and enthralled.

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Photo by: Ryan Cunningham

Ryan Cunningham

Camping with kids can create lifelong memories for both you and your kids. It can also create, on occasion, some seriously bored kids. That is why it is absolutely essential to make sure you have plenty of activities to keep them occupied during your camping experience. Here are a few ideas that will keep your kids occupied, having fun and not leave you exhausted at the end of the day.

But First, Start by Making Sure Your Kids Are Safe At All Times

You need to start any camping trip with kids by making sure they will be safe at all times. This means establishing clear boundaries and avoiding areas that could put your kids in danger. If your kids are small, avoid camping next to lakes and rivers, also make sure they are protected from the sun, bugs and poisonous plants by wearing sunscreen, bug spray and long pants. Another idea we love to incorporate is to give our kids emergency whistles. These work great for wild animals, getting lost and even strangers. You and your kids will both have more fun knowing everyone is safe.

Now, You’re Ready For Some Fun

Make Treasure Hunting Lists For Your Kids

Treasure hunting is a great activity for nearly all ages. You can even incorporate prizes at the end of the hunt if you wish. Make you list simple and make sure that no items require damaging any plants or removing items that should not be removed. Certain sticks, rocks, leaves and items specific to your location work great.

Another great idea is to bring along a metal detector for a whole different kind of treasure hunting. Metal detectors work great for digging in sand and dirt or for looking for items lost along trails.

Encourage Them To Build and Create

If your kids are creative or love to build, these are all things that you can promote while out camping. You can collect sticks, leaves and other items and have them create pictures using naturally found items around your campsite. You can also use these same sticks, some grass and dirt and let them built little bird houses and other fun structures.

A great idea is to give them a challenge like creating a picture or build a birds’ nest using only items found around the campsite. Just make sure to follow local rules and not cause damage to living plants.

Photo by: Ryan Cunningham

Ryan Cunningham

Encourage Their Curiosity and Go “Exploring”

Exploring is another word for hiking in our family. My kids love finding a trail and seeing where it leads. This will literally keep them busy for hours. We always pack a daypack full of snacks, water, sunscreen and bug spray before heading out on any hikes that we plan on being gone for more than 30 minutes. 

Go Ahead and Bring An iPad or Tablet

Before you write me off as crazy, hear me out. When you are out camping, if you kids are anything like mine, they will probably be up at the crack of dawn and be ready to be entertained for the next 15+ hours. There is nothing wrong with an afternoon break or even saving the tablet for an emergency movie in the tent in case of rain.

Plan Car Games to Make The Car Ride Go Faster

If your camping trip involved a bit of a drive, make sure to start things off right by keeping everyone happy in the car. A favorite car game we like to play with our kids is The License Plate Game.

Try Geocaching

This is a favorite of all my kids, even the teenagers! Geocaching involves hunting for and finding hidden objects using a GPS device. Many campgrounds have geocaching GPS devices that you can use while staying with them and there are even phone apps that you can download for free. The hidden objects can be little trinkets, unique rocks and anything the person decided to hide. You can even create your own geocaches for another person to find.

Check With Your Campground And See What They Offer For Kids

Most state, national and even many private campgrounds offer a host of activities for adults and kids. Simply check at the front office or ask the park ranger about planned activities. We’ve taken part in nature classes, sandcastle building contests, group hikes and much more on our camping trips.

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Photo by: Ryan Cunningham

Ryan Cunningham

Hopefully these ideas have given you a good starting point when planning out your camping trip with kids. With a little extra planning your kids (and you) will enjoy a great camping experience that will create memories that last a lifetime.

Ryan Cunningham's favorite camping destination is the BWCA in Minnesota. He currently blogs about all things camping at BeyondTheTent where you can follow his adventures with his family of seven.

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