It’s finally the time of the year we’ve been waiting for — camping season! When it comes to planning a trip outdoors, camping offers some of the most affordable options for families and budget travelers. From the fresh air of the campground to a gooey s’mores session and mesmerizing campfire crackle, camping brings all of us one step closer to nature, something we all need more of.
In fact, camping is proven to reduce stress and contributes to better physical and emotional health. It’s no wonder millions of Americans hit the open road every year to find the perfect camping spot and explore our national parks. But if your family has young children, you know that venturing to the great outdoors can pose some challenges. Everything from planning and packing to keeping everyone entertained once the campsite is set up takes some patience.
While nature delivers a full sensory experience, the “I’m bored” statements are bound to start at some point. To help your family get the most out of camping this summer, we’ve put together a collection of printable camping games and activities to curb boredom. All you need to do is print them out.
Camping Supplies Game
Our camping supplies game is great for young children who aren’t quite ready to help pitch a tent and set up the campsite. Instead, let them practice on their own with this camping supplies game where they can arrange their own campsite on paper.
Animal Tracks Explorer
The campsite and its surrounding areas are prime places for kids to scout out different animal tracks. Print out these animal tracks cards, punch a hole in the upper left corner of each, and secure them with some yarn or a metal ring so your child doesn’t lose them. Searching for animal tracks is a sure fire way to keep kiddos busy during your trip — there are even some fun facts in there for endless learning opportunities.
My Camping Journal
Do you have a budding journalist on your hands? Giving your child a camping journal is the perfect way to teach them to document memories, get them excited for the next camping trip and expand their writing skills. Encourage them to write about their experiences in a creative way.
Camping Scavenger Hunt
One of the great things about scavenger hunts is that you don’t have to spend time making and hiding clues. The players search for things that already exist. A scavenger hunt is a fun family game that can be done in teams (i.e., as part of a relay) or solo, plus it’s a good tool for teaching your child to observe their surroundings.
Test Your Outdoor Safety Skills
Teach young kids about outdoor safety in an engaging way. Because this game can have more than one answer, kids can make new discoveries every time they play and contribute their own ideas about how to stay safe.
Summer Camp Out Word Search
Summer means school’s out, but that doesn’t mean your child’s brain needs to check out. Word search puzzles help kids think. Looking for camping-themed words in all directions will also keep your kids occupied long enough for you to take in the peace and quiet of nature.
Camping Packing List
Giving children the responsibility of packing their own camping gear is bound to get them involved in the excitement of the trip. Try planning the packing list together and double-check their packing job before leaving home to save yourself any headaches. Keep organized by having your kids pack personal items in a duffel bag and encouraging them to always return all items to the duffel.
More Camping Games for Kids
If you’re in a camping location with cell service, geocaching is the ultimate game to involve the whole family. Geocaching combines technology and the thrill of finding a hidden container full of mystery prizes — talk about irresistible! In fact, there are more than 3 million registered geocaches hidden in more than 190 countries and all you need is a smartphone with GPS capabilities. Download the Geocaching app and create an account before you set off on your camping trip so you can start exploring when you arrive.
A go-to classic, flashlight tag is the perfect camping game to play once night falls. Give the tagger a flash light and play tag as you normally would, except the tagger uses the light of the flashlight to “tag” people. Once a player is “tagged,” they are out and play continues until everyone has been caught.
The perfect game to play on a hot day, especially if your campsite is located near a lake or river. Each person needs a drinking cup to play. Players stand in a single file line, facing the same direction. The person at the front of the line has a full cup of water and everyone else’s cups are empty. The first player dumps the water out over their head into the next person’s cup (without turning to look). The person behind tries to catch as much water as they can. Play continues down the line until the last person catches the water in their cup. The relay continues as players race to the front of the line to start over — as long as nobody’s out of water yet!
Sleeping Bag Races
Sleeping bag races work just like potato sack races, only you substitute the burlap bags for — you guessed it — your sleeping bags to hop across the finish line. If you’d rather not dirty your sleeping bags, try using plastic trash bags.
Glow Stick Ring Toss
Plan ahead for this game by packing glow sticks in your camping supplies — also a great way to spot your kids in a dark campsite. Give each player three to five glow stick rings, then dig a stick into the dirt so that it pokes up out of the ground. Take turns trying to throw your glow stick rings over the stick.
Using a large area to play and pre-set boundary lines, one player is chosen to be the park ranger. The park ranger begins in the center and the other players stand in a line shoulder-to-shoulder facing the park ranger. Next, each player chooses an animal they want to be — keeping it a secret from the other players! The park ranger then says a characteristic that the other players’ animals may have. If a player’s animal does not have a feature that was mentioned, they must run across the area before getting tagged. The park ranger should attempt to tag as many players as possible. Tagged players become trees where they cannot move their feet. The last person who is not a tree wins.
Putting on your own camping Olympics is a great way to involve the whole family, or even some of your camping neighbors. Set up a variety of games that players can rotate between. We suggest ideas like a bean bag toss, tug of war, jumping rope or the scavenger hunt listed above. Come up with a scoring system and award prizes accordingly.
No matter where you set off to this summer, the key to a successful camping adventure is always preparation and these games are a great start to make sure there are fun filled activities throughout your whole trip. These camping printables are bound to personalize your child’s camping adventure and get them excited for the next time you hit the road and explore the great outdoors.