Living outdoors is hard work, but believe it or not, there are tons of fun things to do while camping If you have kids, then you know how important this is!
Nobody wants to spend their entire camping trip doing chores and sitting around the rest of the time. And that’s exactly why we came up with this extensive list of fun activities to hopefully give you some ideas.
When you’re at your campsite, it can be challenging to think of ways to keep everyone entertained. You don’t quite have the same luxuries as you do at home, so you have to get creative.
Play a game
Games are always fun and can be played almost anywhere. You can even tailor them to your camping trip to make them extra special and memorable!
1. Hide and seek is always a classic, both for kids and adults. If you’re feeling extra competitive, set up a tournament with different teams and see who can win the most rounds. Just make sure to clarify where the boundaries are so nobody gets lost!
2. Scavenger hunts are another great way to pass the time. You can do this by yourselves or in teams, and it’s a perfect way to explore your surroundings. Try making a list of items specific to your location, such as leaves of a certain colour or animal tracks.
3. Badminton can work if you have the right equipment with you and enough open space (away from the campfire). All you really need is a net that can be tied to two trees, a couple of racquets, and a birdie. You could even use a beachball instead to make it easier for little kids.
4. Corn hole is another classic game that can be played with both kids and adults. All you need is a couple of bean bags or small balls, and two elevated platforms (or holes in the ground). Take turns throwing the objects at the targets and see who can get the most points.
5. Ringtoss is a simple game that can be played with any number of people. All you need is a ring (or two) and a stake or stick . Line up the objects at different distances and take turns throwing the ring. The person with the most points at the end wins!
6. Flashlight tag is a great game to play at night when it’s too dark to do anything else. All you need is a group of people and a flashlight. One person is “it” and has to chase the others with the flashlight. The goal is to tag as many people as possible with the beam of light.
Get closer to nature
Nature can be fun, too! Even if you (or your kids) get bored easily, there are still plenty of creative ways to get up close and personal with Mother Nature herself.
7. Look for interesting rocks and fossils. If you’re in a rocky area, such as a lakefront or riverbed, you can look for cool rocks and fossils. Keep your eyes peeled for anything that looks out of the ordinary.
8. Look for interesting bugs and insects. In the summer, there’s a good chance you’ll find all sorts of creepy crawlies around camp. As long as they don’t totally creep you out, try to look for interesting insects like caterpillars, butterflies, praying mantises, and ladybugs.
9. Identify tree and plant species. It helps to have an app or a book on hand if you’re not familiar with the different types of trees and plants around you. You can even turn this into a scavenger hunt!
10. Collect leaves and flowers. If you’re crafty, you can use these natural items to make all sorts of things—like leaf rubbings, pressed flowers, or even jewelry.
11. Look for signs of animals. Even if you don’t see any animals, you can usually find signs of their presence. Look for things like tracks, scat, feathers, and nests.
12. Search for wild edibles. Depending on where you are, you may be able to find some edible plants like berries, wild leeks, fiddleheads, and more. Be sure to do your research first, though, as some plants can be poisonous if not properly prepared.
13. Watch the clouds. This one is especially fun for kids. Lie down on your back and see what shapes you can find in the clouds. You might be surprised at how creative you can get!
14. Stargaze at night. If you’re camping in an area with little light pollution, take advantage of it! See if you can spot any constellations or shooting stars.
15. Draw or paint what you see. If you’re artistically inclined, try drawing or painting what you see around you—such as an interesting tree, or a waterscape of the lake. This is a great way to capture the beauty of nature while tapping into your creative side.
16. Journal or write a story inspired by your trip. If you’re a writer, consider keeping a journal of your thoughts and experiences while camping. Alternatively, you could write a short story or poem inspired by your time in nature.
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Bushcraft is a form of wilderness survival that involves using natural resources to survive in the wild. This can include things like building shelter, finding food and water, making tools, and more.
It can get pretty advanced, but there are all sorts of beginner-friendly bushcraft activities you can do to make it easy especially for kids who are interested. Just make sure they’re doing it with adult supervision as bushcraft often involves working with knives and other tools.
17. Make a survival bracelet. This is a bracelet made out of 550 paracord that can be unraveled and used for all sorts of things in a pinch, like building shelter, making a fire, or even fishing.
18. Build a basic shelter. This can be as simple as stringing up a tarp between two trees, or building a more complex lean-to out of sticks and branches.
19. Search for tinder and kindling. To build a fire, you’ll need tinder (material that burns easily, like dry grass or leaves) and kindling (smaller pieces of wood that will help the fire catch). Once you’ve gathered some, try using a more difficult fire-starting method like a fire striker to get it going.
20. Practice tying different types of knots. There are all sorts of knots you can learn, each with their own specific purpose. For example, the square knot is often used for first aid, while the clove hitch is good for tying rope to a tree.
21. Learn how to use a compass. A compass can help you orient yourself if you get lost, and can also be used for navigation purposes when looking get from point A to point B.
Beyond your campsite
The fun really begins when you leave your campsite in search of new adventures. Here’s what to look for, depending on your location and surroundings.
One of the perks of camping is that you get to explore a whole new area, whether it’s a state or national park, the woods, or even your own backyard.
22. Hiking trails in or near the area you’re camping in are a great way to see what’s out there and get some exercise. Trails vary in difficulty, so make sure to pick one that’s appropriate for your fitness level.
23. Waterfalls are a spectacular sight, and many parks have them. Be sure to stay on marked trails, as it can be dangerous to get too close to the edge.
24. Beaches are a must in the summer months! Even if you know about one of the main beaches, consider doing a little extra research and exploring to find some of the lesser-known ones. They often have fewer crowds and can be just as beautiful (if not more).
25. Rivers and streams can be extremely interesting to look at, featuring rocky areas with rapids and calm sections with crystal-clear water. They’re also perfect for fishing, assuming it’s permitted in the area.
26. Canyons and caves are well worth venturing off to if the area you’re camping in has them! Some are big and some are small, but all are a sight to see. Keep in mind that they can be dangerous, so be sure to wear proper footwear and consider bringing a helmet with a headlamp if you’re going deep into one.
27. Mountains are an excellent place to explore, offering breathtaking views whether you’re looking at them from the ground or have the opportunity to hike to the top. If you do decide to hike up a mountain, be sure to pace yourself and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.
28. Historic landmarks like abandoned cabins, old mills, logging areas, old growth forests, pictographs, petroglyphs, and more can be found in many camping areas. They offer a glimpse into the past and can be really fascinating to see.
Search for wildlife
If you’re lucky, you might just spot some wildlife while you’re out and about exploring. Here are some ideas to increase your chances.
29. Try birdwatching by paying attention to the birds around you and looking for ones you haven’t seen before. Consider bringing along a pair of binoculars, some birdseed, and a bird identification app or book to help you out.
30. Stay quiet in animal territory. Many animals are shy and will only come out if they don’t feel threatened. If you’re patient, you may get to see some really neat creatures—like rabbits, deer, moose, beavers, river otters, and more depending on your area.
31. Look for amphibians and reptiles. These can include frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, and turtles—which may be especially plentiful in swamps, marshes, and boggy areas. Again, it’s best to just observe from a distance rather than try to catch or touch them.
32. Spot some fish. If you look closely at shallow areas in lakes, rivers, or streams, you might be able to sunfish, minnows, shiners, or other small species of baitfish swimming around. That’s a great sign of a good fishing spot!
Do photography or videography
One of the best things to do to make your camping trip memorable is to document it with photos and videos. When it’s time to go home, you’ll be glad you did it!
33. Landscape photography involves taking pictures of the scenery around you. You don’t need a fancy camera to do this—if all you have is your phone, you can still capture the beauty of your surroundings.
34. Wildlife photography is a little trickier since it requires a lot of patience, but it can be really rewarding. If you’re able to get a good shot of an animal in its natural habitat—even if it’s just a close-up shot of a common bird species or a chipmunk—it be a great addition to your photo memories.
35. Timelapse videography involves filming a certain spot over a long period of time without moving the camera, then speeding up the footage later on to see all the changes that took place over several minutes or hours of filming. It’s typically more of an advanced videography practice, but many smartphone models have a timelapse feature built into them so you can do it on a more casual basis. Just be sure to have something that can keep your phone in place (like a smartphone tripod) and be mindful of battery life.
36. Vlogging (video blogging) is a popular way to document your camping trip for others to see. You can do this by filming little snippets throughout the day or week, or even just sit down and film a longer video talking about your experience. If you’re feeling extra creative, you could even edit your footage together into a mini-documentary!
Check out our YouTube channel to see how we document our trips and edit our footage!
In the water
If you’re lucky enough to be planning your trip during warmer months, there are plenty of fun things to do while camping near water to make the most out of your summer experience.
Go for a swim
When the weather is warm, nothing is more refreshing than going for a dip! Here’s how to make the most of your time when you’re in the water.
37. Practice your swimming strokes. If you’re a beginner, try learning the breaststroke or backstroke. If you’re feeling more confident, work on perfecting your freestyle or butterfly. It’s not only fun, but also great exercise!
38. Do some water aerobics. This is a great way to get in a workout while still cooling off in the water. You can do things like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or even some simple dance moves.
39. Jump into deep water. If you’re feeling brave, try cliff jumping into a body of water that’s deep enough. Just be sure to check the depth beforehand and never jump alone—have someone spot you from the bottom just in case.
40. Float in an inner tube. This is a relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon, and you can even bring along a book, a drink, or some snacks to enjoy while you float. Just be sure to put on extra sunscreen!
41. Tread water. If you’re a strong swimmer, try treading water for as long as you can. It’s great exercise for your legs and core, and it’s also a nice way to cool off on a hot day. You can even have a competition with your friends or family to see who can last the longest!
42. Throw a beachball or frisbee around. This is a classic beach activity that’s also great for camping near water. You can play catch, keep away, or even make up your own game. You can get a beachball or frisbee for as little as a couple of dollars from the dollar store or any other store that sells sporting goods, so it’s a great way to stay entertained without spending a lot of money.
Try water games and sports
Water games and sports are a great way to get active while you’re camping near water. There are so many different things you can do on the water, whether you’re looking for something adventurous or more low-key.
43. Marco Polo is a popular pool game that can also be played in any body of water that’s deep enough. One person is “it” and the others have to swim around and try to avoid being tagged. The catch is that the person who is “it” has to keep their eyes closed the entire time!
44. Water tag is similar to Marco Polo, but instead of being “it,” the goal is to tag as many people as possible. It’s a great way to get everyone involved and moving around in the water.
45. Splash ball is another classic pool game that can be played in any body of water. All you need is a ball (a beach ball or volleyball works great) and two teams. The object of the game is to hit the ball over to the other team’s side and have it land in the water. If it doesn’t land in the water, the other team gets a point. First team to 10 points wins!
46. Canoeing or kayaking are great options if you have your own or can rent one from one of the nearby outfitters. It’s a fun way to explore your surroundings and get some exercise at the same time. Be sure to wear your PDF, stay hydrated, and bring sunscreen!
47. Stand-up paddleboarding is another great option if you have your own or can rent one. It may be a bit more challenging than canoeing for its balancing aspect, but it’s also a lot of fun. Wear your bathing suit in case you fall in!
48. Snorkelling is a great way to explore the underwater world without getting wet—especially if you’re camping near lakes or rivers with very clear water conditions. All you need is a snorkel and a mask, which you can pick up relatively inexpensively from a sport goods store. You may also be able to rent them from one of the local outfitters.
49. Fishing can be a lot of fun whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned fisherman. You can fish from the shore, a dock, or even a boat if you’re lucky enough to have one. Just be sure to have fishing license, get familiar with the seasonal fishing regulations, and check with the park or area you’re fishing in to make sure you’re following all the rules. (Many parks don’t allow you to use live bait for fishing to prevent the spread of invasive species.)
50. Skipping stones is the final activity we recommend trying if you’d rather stay on shore and can find some small, flat rocks to toss in the water. The technique for skipping stones involves throwing the stone at a low angle and letting it bounce off the water’s surface. It takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but it’s a fun way to pass the time. Try to see how many times you can make the stone bounce before it sinks!
We hope you enjoyed our list of fun things to do while camping. As you can see, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you entertained. So get out there and have some fun in the sun!
It’s our pleasure to help you decide to what to do when planning out your next camping trip! Just remember to stay safe, have fun, and respect your surroundings. Thanks for reading!
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).