camping, camping tips, family camping

Fun Camping Activities Equal A Fun Camping Trip For Both Parents And Kids

Camping activities...the parents blueprint for a sane and successful camping trip!!! Some people think that camping with kids will drive them crazy…and they will…unless you provide them
with some fantastic camping activities that are age appropriate. All it takes is a little easy preplanning and sometimes a few small props.

Years ago, kids ran around the neighborhood, without cell phones, showing up when it was time for dinner. Today we have to throw our kids outside off of the computers and video games, and make sure they don't sneak back in!

On our camping trips, there is so much for the kids to do, they don't need to bring along the movies, PSPs, or other electronics. While they can use them in the car on the way, we don't let them spend time at the campground on them...and they have so much to do they don't seem to miss them there either. (Confession, we will let them go to sleep at night with their IPods.)

Plan Your Camping Activities

Yes, as I mentioned before, it is good to plan some of your activities in advance, even or especially if you are bringing teens. A little thinking ahead and a few props will keep even most bored teens interested and a participating part of your family...which to us is the whole point of our family camping trips.

Usually our days are so jam packed with activities, even if we don't leave the campsite, that by the second night of camping the kids (and adults) have no problem sleeping, and in fact...they usually drop off in their tents to go to sleep voluntarily!

Outdoor Kid Camping Activities

Outdoor camping activities and camping with kids are two terms that complement each other beautifully. Simple camping activities and camping games keep most younger kids entertained, as does bringing along a few loved toys from home that might adapt to the outdoors perfectly. The possibilities here are nearly endless!

  • This is the perfect place for kids to learn how to properly build a fire. Everyone can be involved in gathering the tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. My two 10 year olds and the 16 year old all compete to both build and then light the fire. They'll really take a lot of pride in seeing the lit fire and knowing this is the result of their efforts in it.
  • Bring star maps and binoculars or a small telescope to view the star-filled night sky away from the lights of the city. This view is amazing, especially for city kids (like me!!).
  • We have long (3-4 foot) telescopic skewers for roasting hot dogs and toasting marshmallows. You don't have to do this only at night...can be a great afternoon activity to get them involved making lunch, either on the charcoal grill or on the fire they just built.
  • Give each of them a disposable camera and take a walk around nature with them…make sure they take pictures of each other and you as well. These will probably be some of your favorite shots!
  • Don’t forget some sort of guide to plants, birds, and/or bugs they might find in the area. It is fun to figure out what it is you are finding…or go hunting for what is in the book. Speaking of bugs, especially for boys, although my daughter enjoys this too…bring or make some sort of bug box. They will most likely catch something! We have a 24-hour rule…everything has to be released after 24 hours.
  • Are you near water? Is there fishing? See if there are canoe or kayak rentals close by, again, a great physical activity for the teens.
  • Also for outdoor games…we also like to bring Frisbees, footballs or other balls for playing catch, a few golf balls for a makeshift bocce-type game, and horseshoes, all easy to store and pull out almost anywhere.

Of course we make a point to check out the local sights...both touristy and off the beaten path.

Don't Forget The Indoor Camping Activities

What? Camping activities for indoors? Absolutely! I always make sure I have activities for the car ride, and camping games for inside as well, to keep them occupied during inclement weather or while you are taking care of cooking or other things that need to be done. Whether you are in a cabin or a tent, there usually will be someplace to take cover (in our case we usually put up a dining fly, but many campgrounds also have a hall of some sort with activities, WIFI, or just a comfortable place to sit) and everyone will be wanting something to do.

Bring coloring books, colored pencils, crayons, and paper. Aside from just general drawing and coloring while inside, they can find different leaves and rocks, and other items out in nature and make rubbings.

Hot wheels or Matchbox cars for the younger kids..these fit anywhere when packing and they love to play with these anywhere. Again, with some truck models or off-road models, they will have a few hours of outdoor play as well.

Also for indoor and down time, don’t forget books, puzzles…word book puzzles or jigsaw puzzles. One of my favorite puzzles for my kids had three different sections with appropriate-sized pieces, one for really young kids, one for medium-sized, and then one for the teens and adults. We took it on one of our week-long trips, set on a table, and everybody worked on whenever they felt like it during the week. We also bring travel-sized family board games for some great family game nights, regular playing cards, and game cards such as Uno.

Camping Stories

Camping stories and camping songs are great to tell and sing while sitting around the fire. The young ones love the songs...the older ones roll their eyes and think everyone is so corny..but many times end up joining in with the family! On the other hand, everyone usually loves the stories...just make sure the teens don't tell camping stories that will scare the little ones (or themselves) so much they won't want to sleep in their tents!

A Camping Activity Kit

Since we camp frequently, I have made up a Camping Activity Kit. Instead of having to hunt all over the place to put together these items before each camping trip, I like to keep a plastic storage tub (the kind with a lid) filled with some or all of these items...such as bubbles, frisbees, playing cards, etc. When we are packing for our trip, I just pull out the ready-made kit out of the garage where we store the rest of our camping equipment, and stick it in the car as is. It sure makes things lot easier.

If storage space is an issue, you can also keep a separate camping check list just for your activity items to make it much easier to remember what to bring while you are packing. (I love to keep a camping check list! I actually have several, broken down by category for our camping kitchen, camping activities, camping gear, etc.)

To me, camping with the kids is the ultimate cheap family vacation. Not only are we saving money by cooking our own meals and spending very little on our lodging…the biggest bonus is that while we are doing all of these camping activities with our kids…whether it involves working at our campsite in some form, playing camping games together, enjoying the natural setting around us, or just sitting around the campfire singing camping songs or telling camping stories, our kids are engaged with us and interacting with us…something that is a little more challenging to achieve at home.

I love it when we go camping. Activities we do with the kids while we are camping create some wonderful times and bonds that really pull everybody together and keep our family close. I know with a little bit planning you can enjoy this too!

Looking for more fun things to do while camping? Go to Camping Games

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