When you’re going camping with your family, there are a couple ways to make things easier, including bringing comfort foods, practicing your set up, and lastly, having family camping activities to divide up the time, so no one can complain about boredom. A bored trip is a bad trip. So here are some of my best tips to keep your family quality time going strong and going long.
Location attractions and venues
Some outdoor destinations have special areas already designated for certain activities. Some even have the amenities ready for rental, which can be very attractive for a family campers that doesn’t do that activity much. Some ideas are canoeing or boating, fishing, burro riding or horse riding, or swimming. To find out what your site location offers, check their website, or even ask some of the locals at sporting goods stores.
Bingo is a great way to keep youth engaged and observing all of the wonders of the non-city life around them, from animals to droppings to plants. If you’re familiar with the area, all you need to do is fill out some printable bingo cards with the names or perhaps even pictures of the local wildlife and foliage. Or, perhaps the “found!” sticker is a picture they drew themselves. If you’re not familiar, use the local nature websites or guidebooks or even brochures as a guide. If you can’t find that either or if you’re just short on time, try more generic things that most outdoor nature settings will have, such as squirrels or ants.
For a non-competitive twist, try just a list of things to be found – this would be called a scavenger hunt, instead. A second twist on this game is called “I Spy”, and players will say the phrase “I spy with my little eyes…”, and then begin to give clues about what they spotted until someone is able to guess correctly what it is.
Another idea is to bring your favorite sports equipment and to have a game or two while you are outdoors. Some sports are easily portable, like tossing a football around, or even volleyball with the portable tie-anywhere volleyball nets. Some other ideas are Frisbee, tag, capture the flag, or tug of war. All of these activities have nighttime variants for different twists, such as glow-in-the-dark face-paint or accessories, or even flashlights. .
Map & compass
Have you heard of orienteering? It’s where people find their way to checkpoints using a map and compass. This could be a great survival skill to train. If you have a map or brochure of the area, most of your work is done for you already. There are many clubs who do orienteering as a group activity, perhaps some of them even have free materials you can borrow for your family.
An up and coming outdoor activity is called geocaching – where people hide and retrieve miniature treasure troves carefully hidden. You’ll want to look for websites on your local camping area to get started, as they’ll come with guides and tips. More importantly, the website will list caches that already exist so that you can go and find them – you might be surprised at how many caches are around you already.
The campfire and campfire story time
Stories are the stuff that legends are made of – and contained in. Sitting around a campfire telling stories is iconic of the outdoors, as well as an excellent family bonding activity. If you’re not good at stories or if you feel your children are too little, perhaps you read out of a book instead, like a bedtime story. Remember to bring along snacks for this one, preferably s’mores.
It can also be a great experience to teach your young ones how to start their own fire. Starting a fire actually has many different steps and precautions, from kindling to large logs, how to measure out the size and length that’s needed, how to stack the firewood properly, how to produce a spark, letting the fireplace have oxygen, and more.
Bring along some instruments and have everyone bang out something together. If your children are still too little, perhaps the activity is more that they listen to the musician play a nice song. If the musician is talented, perhaps the little songs even go with the story plot twists and turns. If no one at all is musical or the instruments just aren’t easily portable, consider instead just bringing along something to play music aloud. It’s very useful for lifting spirits when folks are tired and weary.
Charades and Pictionary
There are many different games that exist, but I wanted to mention these two games because they are so close to my heart and because I feel that they are so great at helping family bonding and family quality time to be memorable and fun. Charades can easily come in a travel size, and the objective is to act out the card that is drawn and have others guess what the card says. Pictionary is similar where the card is drawn out and others have to guess what the card says – you can even draw on the dirt instead of paper. If you really like this idea, consider playing Hangman while you camp also – one person thinks of a word and writes blanks and the others have to guess what the word is based on the filled-in letters. Incorrect hangman guesses earns another appendage until the stick figure is “hanged” because there are no more guesses left.
Verbal games are excellent as they tend to have many variations and are super simple to pack as there really isn’t anything to take with you. Here are some verbal games for your family camping trip:
- “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing …”, and then the speaker finishes the question with their personal suggestion. The great thing about this game is that you can use many of these ideas for next time.
- 20 questions, where one player thinks of a noun and the other players have 20 questions to narrow the results down to their advantage
- Two truths and one lie. Three things are said and the others need to guess which ones are lies and which are truths.
- Riddles. There are many online, why not bring some with you so that as you hike, the youth have something to think about and mull over, instead of focusing on any potential complaints
Family camping activities
I hope that you enjoy this camping season and have excellent weather and excellent company. Always remember to bring your typical outdoor activity bag, in case anything happens such as a cut, poison ivy, or a sunburn. Keep cool, drink lots of water, and tell your friends and family where you are going.