24 Easy Camping Activities for Kids That Are Fun and Cheap

Photo by Greg Rosenke

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Nothing says summer like family camping and roasting marshmallows on a campfire.  Getting away from the busyness of life from some fresh air and family camping is the perfect way to spend the weekend.  

There are so many new things to do and see when you’re camping with kids. Camping games with kids, hiking, swimming,there are so many things to do while camping with kids. So we have tons of kids camping ideas to fill your time and make memories.

We’ve rounded up some easy camping activities for kids to chase away any boredom that might be coming their way.  You’ll find these fun ideas that kids can do independently with a little prep, family camping games, crafts, etc.  

Easy Camping Games for Kids

Sleeping Bag Race

Relay-races often top the list for outdoor kids’ party games. For a camping party, take a cue from the classic potato sack race, but use sleeping bags instead. Kids can jump inside of their sleeping bags, or get into them on the ground and crawl, worm-style, to the finish line.

Bear Catcher

In this game of tag, one player is the bear catcher and the rest are bears. Place one sleeping bag for each bear around the campsite. Have each bear go to his cave (sit on a sleeping bag) and have the bear catcher stand in the center of the play area. On the word “go” (called by a non-player), the bears must race to a new cave before the bear catcher can tag them. When a player is tagged, he becomes the new bear catcher.

Campground Scavenger Hunt

Start your adventure by exploring the campground where you will be staying. It’s a good idea to make sure you know where resources like portable water and toilets are, if there are any. You can also take a closer look at the plants, animals and other natural elements around you.

A scavenger hunt is an easy way to get kids looking around and learning at the same time. Download this free printable nature scavenger hunt. It’s fun for kids in a wide age range.

Crayon Rubbing

It’s best to show kids how to make one before they begin their hunt. Peel the paper off of an old crayon, set a piece of paper on a leaf or something with an interesting texture, just for demonstration purposes, and rub the crayon over the paper until the texture or shape outline starts to show through.

How to play:

  1. Once the group knows how to make a crayon rubbing, ask the kids to run around the yard to make crayon rubbings of as many different types of leaves as they can in 25 mins.
  2. Encourage them to look closely and find leaves of varying shapes, sizes, and even leaves that have special features (like tears, bug bite marks, etc.) To save your landscaping, tell them that the leaves must already be lying on the ground.
  3. The child that comes back with the most crayon rubbings of different types of leaves is the winner.
  4. To continue playing, kids can go back out to make as many crayon rubbings as they can of different tree trunks, rocks, or anything else with an interesting surface.

I Spy

“I Spy” is a classic game of distraction that can refocus bored or antsy kids. The premise is simple: One person begins the game with the phrase “I spy, with my little eye, something …” and fills in the blank with a letter, color or texture. So, if the object you pick is a flower, you might say, “I spy something yellow” or “something that begins with the letter ‘F.'” The other campers will look around and take turns guessing which item it might be. The “spy” can offer clues during the guessing. Whoever guesses correctly gets to start the next round.

“I Spy” is great to play while on a hike, because it draws attention to the things around you. You can also use it to make chores, like setting up a campsite, go more quickly.

Nature Tic Tac Toe

Use things around the campground to play tic tac toe.

Camping Charades 

Charades is a fun, easy, and creative way for kids to play and entertain themselves and you.  The whole campsite will be laughing in no time.

Card games

Just bring along a deck or two and you’re all set for rummy, go fish, old maid, and more. 

Uno

Yes, this is technically also a card game, but with fancier cards.  And, you can even get specialty-themed ones like Minecraft, Harry Potter, and Wilderness, and Smores the Card Game.

Board Games

If loosing pieces is a concern, think about these magnetic travel type games like checkers, or travel Scrabble.

Glowing ring toss

Kids love glow sticks! Using one large glow stick and some smaller bracelet-sized sticks creates a glowing ring toss game for nighttime fun. Want to make the game more challenging? Use three large sticks at different distances and heights and assign a range of point values for ringing the sticks.

Camping Bingo

Using printed bingo cards and scavenger hunt skills, each player marks off their camping bingo square when they find an item. Teach kids “Leave No Trace” principles by only marking off the items and not removing them from nature. Younger kids can play, too, with adult help.

Glow in the Dark Bowling

Place glow sticks in half full water bottles for a fun bowling experience.  This will be hours of fun after dark.

Fun Skill Camping Activities for Kids

Map Making and Navigation

Being able to understand what a map is, and how to read one, is important for campers of all ages. Start your smallest campers out on the right track by having them draw their own version of a map. You can use the area surrounding the campsite, or have them draw the hiking path you just took. It’s a good opportunity to talk about landmarks and directions. Challenge older kids by giving them a compass and having them plot the directions you take on a hike.

Knot Tying Skills

Have someone teach campers how to tie three different kinds of camping knots. When the lesson is over, set a timer and challenge campers to successfully complete all three knots before the buzzer sounds.

Marking Trails

Kids can put bent sticks in the forks of trees or place brightly colored leaves or rocks at strategic places along the trail. They can also make arrows with stones along the trail pointing the way (at a curve in the trail, for example). Kids figure out all kinds of ways to leave markers, and it’s fun to come back the next day to see if the markers are still there.  

Stick Mazes

Here’s a fun idea if you find yourself in a spot with a lot of fallen wood on the ground:  Mazes using sticks.

Stargazing

Lay in your inflatable camping couch or camping chairs once night falls and find the stars. You can make a game out of naming the stars or who can find the constellation first.

Honestly not a lot of prior planning needs to go into stargazing.  You just need to remember to look up once darkness falls.


Looking for the perfect family tent? Check out our buyer’s guide book.


Easy Camping Crafts for Kids

Rock Painting

If you added paint to the craft supplies you might want to suggest they paint rocks they find around the campsite.  Using water-based non-toxic paints means the rocks will be washed clean again by the rain or you could gather rocks to paint and bring home (if picking rocks is allowed where you’re camping).

Photo by Elise

Tin Can Lanterns  

Let each little camper make their own little lanterns to hang around the campsite. All you need is a tin can, a nail, and a hammer. Each child can create their own design. Parents should help younger campers that can’t do this on their own.

Mini Marshmallow Shooters

To make Mini Marshmallow Shooters you will need plastic cups, scissors, a balloon, rubber band, and marshmallows.

  • Cut the bottom of the plastic cup with scissors.
  • Tie a knot at the end of your balloon and cut off about 1/2″ from the other end.
  • Now stretch the balloon over the end of the cup

That’s it!  Now it’s time to do some launching!  Just put your marshmallow inside the cup, aim, and launch the marshmallow.

Photo by Craftiments

Acrylic Paint Sun Prints on Fabric

Acrylic paint prints are one of our favorite camping activities for kids. This simple technique uses heat and evaporation to create negative images of objects placed on painted fabric. Check out Craftiments for the tutorial. 

Create a nature guidebook

“When you’re in nature, be curious about nature,” says Tovah Paglaro, the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green. “The kids will love to learn the names and properties of the plants and animals around you. You could even keep a log book and compare the different natural finds in different places you visit.”

Water Bucket Fun

Bring a 5 Gallon bucket for your kids to play in.  You can also bring a few water toys.  Be prepared for lots of splashing fun!

I hope you enjoyed this list of camping activities for kids. The important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Things won’t always go as planned, but that is okay. At least you’re together making memories together.

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Don't let boredom stop you from having a great family camping trip.  Check out these 24 easy camping activities for kids