Camping holidays with the family can be a magical experience. A trip into the great outdoors will teach your kids about the world around them, while giving you all the opportunity to bond. It can’t all be marshmallows and wild swimming though. Luckily, good camping games can help fill the downtime.
The 17 best camping games for families are:
- I Spy
- Scavenger hunt
- What’s The Time Mr. Fox?
- Water fight
- Wink Murder
- Shadow hand puppets
- Camp Talk
- Chubby Bunny
- Tell Me A Story
- Butt Head Catch Game
- Sleeping bag caterpillar race
If you’re looking for quick answers, all these games will add fun to a camping trip. However, budget, complexity, and varying ages will have an impact on which of these camping games for families best match your group. Below, we’ll deep dive into each game so you can find the perfect fit for you.
The 17 Best Camping Games For Families
1. I Spy
If you haven’t played I Spy before, allow us to explain how it works. One player chooses an object that is within everybody’s sight. They keep their choice a secret, only announcing what letter the object starts with. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with F” (F for fire). The other players then take turns to have a go at guessing what the object is.
Good For Families On A Budget
If everybody is feeling a bit tired after a long, active day, I Spy is a great choice of camping game. It can be played anywhere, making it great for when you’re setting up camp or sitting in your tent. This traditional game is suitable for most age ranges, and it is also free, making it ideal for families who are camping on a budget.
- Low energy
- Can get boring for older kids
Frisbee is a great camping game for the whole family, and you can even get the dog involved! Frisbees can be bought online for cheap and come in a range of designs and colors. This is a great game to enjoy on a good weather day as it gets everybody outside.
There are plenty of versions of frisbee that you can play but an element of competition is good to get everybody involved. What can be quite a chilled way to practice the kids’ catching skills will quickly escalate into a game of dexterity and agility that is fun for all.
Be Respectful Of Your Environment
Before you begin your game, it is useful to introduce a few rules about throwing so that you don’t lose your frisbee. As with all camping, it is important to remember leave no trace principles and also to be considerate of the local wildlife.
- Fun and active
- Provides exercise
- Encourages competition
- Even the dog can join in
- Frisbees can break
- Can be easy to lose
3. Scavenger Hunt
Ask many families what their favorite camping game is, and you will definitely get a few saying the classic scavenger hunt. This traditional game has been a favorite around campsites for generations and doesn’t look to be going out of fashion any time soon.
Available To Download
Scavenger hunts can be prepared by parents in advance or downloaded from the internet. There are a number of free resources online which are tailored to specific destinations and national parks. Make sure to check out the official websites of the place you are visiting in advance to see what is available.
A scavenger hunt can be tailored to encourage your children to discover different things. For example, you might want them to find different types of flora or fauna, or it can simply be designed to encourage them to explore independently.
Make It Environmentally Friendly
Even though classic scavenger hunts would have involved bringing things back to camp, they no longer need to involve picking flowers or moving wildlife. With the invention of smartphones, everybody has a camera in their pocket.
When you split off into teams, make sure each team has a smartphone or camera so that they are able to photograph their findings. This keeps your scavenger hunt eco-friendly and limits disruption to the natural environment. It also means you have less mess to clean up at the end!
- Keeps everyone active
- Interactive learning
- Encourages teamwork
- Often needs to be prepared in advance
- Not great for rainy days
It’s an oldie but still a goodie! Charades is a staple game for any camping trip because it is simple, easy to play, and will get everybody laughing in no time!
How To Play
If you haven’t played it (and if not, why not?!), you’ll need to split into two teams. The aim of Charades is to act out a phrase or word without speaking. Your teammates will then have one minute to determine what it is you are acting out.
Fun For All
If you’re not sure what kind of words or phrases to go for, categories such as movies, books, and cartoon characters are a good place to start. This mime game gets hilarious very quickly, especially for adults who are usually shy. It is great fun, cheap to play, and a good game for everybody to get involved with.
- Encourages teamwork
- Can be very funny
- Great for kids and adults
- Requires space
Pack some paper and a few pens and enjoy a game of Pictionary with the kids. For a simple game, it can get pretty crazy pretty quickly! Pictionary is essentially the drawing version of charades.Players take it in turns to draw an accurate representation of what is written in front of them while other players try to guess what the illustration is.
Use A Timer
Use a timer on your phone to count down from 60 seconds and watch as the drawing gets more and more erratic! This camping game is suitable for pretty much everyone and is a great way to encourage teamwork.
- Suitable for most ages
- Requires less space than charades
- Need to pack pens and paper
For curious kids and particularly those who are a little older, stargazing is a great way to spend an evening.
Dark Skies Needed
The main downside of stargazing as camping entertainment is that you need to be somewhere with a very dark sky. Unfortunately, if you are camping in a populated town, the light pollution may prevent you from being able to see anything up above.
Get Kids Interested In The Planet
Using the world’s natural resources to amuse the family seems like a no-brainer. After all, there is no better way to get both kids and teens interested in the planet than by experiencing it.
Print off a few of the constellations in advance and work with the rest of the family to try and spot a few of them. If you thrive on competition, you could divide off into teams and make it a race to see who can spot each one first.
Pair With Constellation Myths Around The Campfire
If you know a few of the myths around different constellations, this can also be a great way to flesh this game out. After you’ve spotted as many constellations between you as you can, gather around the campfire and tell the rest of the family the story behind each one.
- Great for curious minds
- Allows children to learn more about the world
- Perfect for science and space enthusiasts
- Incorporates storytelling
- Requires preparation
- Needs a clear sky
7. What’s The Time Mr. Fox?
Depending on where you’re from, you may also know this game as ‘What’s The Time Mr. Wolf?’ or ‘1,2,3 Piano.’ No matter what you call it, this fun game that you may remember from your own childhood is played the world over.
How To Play
One player is chosen to stand at the end of the playing area, facing away from the other players. They will be playing the part of Mr. Fox. The rest of the players will chant together ‘What time is it, Mr. Fox?’ And wait for the fox’s answer.
The person playing the fox will either answer with a time, for example, ‘3 o’clock’ and then the other players will have to take that many steps towards the fox while counting. They then ask the question again.
The game continues in this way until Mr. Fox answers with ‘Dinner time!’, ‘Midnight!’ Or ‘Lunch time!’ At this point, Mr. Fox will chase the other players and try to catch them. Whoever they tag first, will become the new Mr. Fox.
As well as being fun that both children and adults can enjoy, it has been recommended by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. This is because it helps to develop the quick reactions and attention skills of children, particularly between the ages of five to seven.
- Can help children develop functional skills
- Fun for all ages
- Gets everyone moving around
- Requires a fair amount of space
The card game UNO is arguably one of the most popular family-friendly games and its compact nature means that it can easily be taken on camping trips as it is small and easy to pack.
Great For Little Kids
The aim of UNO is to get rid of all of the cards in your hand. It works by matching colors and numbers which means no reading is required. This is great because even the littlest children can get involved.
Fun Time And Time Again
After you’ve played something a few times, you begin to learn the cards and the game can become boring. This is not the case with UNO though. It retains a very high replay value,meaning you can play it again and again without getting bored.
- Easy to pack
- Great for little kids
- You need the cards to play
9. Water Fight
If kids love anything, it’s getting messy. However, this isn’t always practical when you’re using communal showers! (And that’s if you have access to any at all!) Fulfill their need to enjoy a hands-on game with a water fight.
Great To Cool Off
Water is far easier to clean up than mud and can be a refreshing way to cool off on a hot and humid day. Just make sure that everybody has changed into their swimsuits first! Whether you bring along some water pistols from home or go for the more cost-effective choice of water balloons, having a water fight can be a fun way to burn off some energy.
As much as us grown-ups might mumble and grumble about getting wet, there is no denying that most of us love a water fight once we’re in it. It ignites a sense of competition, doubles up as exercise and the kids will love seeing Mom and Dad getting silly with them.
Not Suitable For All Campsites And Climates
Of course, a water fight won’t be a good choice for all environments. If you’re at a campsite, you’ll need to make sure that you keep your water fight contained so as not to upset any of your fellow campers. It also wouldn’t be half as fun in cold environments so consider your destination before you pack the pistols and balloons.
Don’t Neglect The Clean-Up
If you do opt to bring along a pack of balloons, remember to allocate some time for clean-up. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves is a useful life skill so get them involved! A piece of candy for the person to collect the most rubbish can be a good incentive.
- Fun for everyone
- Great on a hot day
- Physical activity
- Not suitable for all climates
- Need to be wary of other campers
- Clean up required
10. Wink Murder
When it comes to campfire games, Wink Murder is surely one of the best. It is best when played with larger groups as this brings more challenges to gameplay. Therefore, it is definitely a good option if you are staying at very sociable campsites.
Perfect For Campfires
Wink murder is also known as Murder in the Dark or Killer. This game works best when everybody is sat in a circle. This makes a campfire the perfect setting! In each round of the game, one player will be secretly assigned the murderer role and must wink at others to ‘kill’ them.
Once you have been winked at, you must wait five seconds before you can feign death to your fellow players. Kids particularly enjoy the theatric nature of this! The other players must come together to try and correctly guess the murderer.
- Ideal for a camp setting
- Everyone can play
- May not be appropriate for very young children
- Some children might not be able to wink
11. Shadow Hand Puppets
If you’ve managed to get a campfire going, a game of shadow hand puppets is a natural progression. However, even if your fire has turned out to be a bit of a flop or the rain is pelting down, you can also use a torch to cast the shadows for this game.
Animal Hand Puppets
Using your hands, try to make your shadow resemble the shape of an animal. There are several ones that are easy to master, even for beginners. The kids can then take it in turns to guess what animal you have made or even try out their own.
Prep Shadow Puppets In Advance
If shadow hand puppets are a familiar game for your family, you can always shake things up a bit by bringing some props or even making your own puppets at home before you embark on your camping trip. This is a crafty activity that younger kids will love. Just remember to pack them!
- Fun to do
- Everyone can get involved
- Easy to make into a guessing game
- Can prepare props in advance
- Can get boring after the first couple of times
12. Camp Talk
The Camp Talk game has been designed to be family-friendly and can be used by anyone over the age of seven. It is a great way to encourage bonding between families and get to know your children a little better.
Good For Introverted Teens
While this camping game is fun for kids, it is also good to play with shy teens who may take more encouragement to get involved in games. The game consists of 100 cards which all contain a different question.
Simply ask the question and then get discussing the answers. The topics can lead to deeper chats and side-splitting answers. This is a great ice-breaker game too which makes it ideal for play in large, sociable campsites.
Made For The Outdoors
The folks at Around The Table Games have made Camp Talk with an outdoor setting in mind,which means that these cards are both rugged and durable. The cards are kept together with a clip that can be attached to a rucksack and the cards themselves are lightly laminated, meaning a little bit of water won’t signal the end of their life!
- Made for the outdoors
- Great icebreaker
- Ideal for shy campers
- Gets everyone socializing
- Might get boring once you know the questions
- Cards are costly for what they are (you could always make your own!)
13. Chubby Bunny
It is a favorite camping game among many: the legendary Chubby Bunny. This game involves eating marshmallows – and lots of them!
Fun And Simple
Chubby Bunny is a simple but fun game that involves players stuffing their mouths full of marshmallows and trying to say ‘chubby bunny’ at the same time. Each player adds one marshmallow at a time and once you’ve made it around the circle, everyone adds another marshmallow.
When somebody can no longer yell chubby bunny, they are out of the game. The winner is the last person left. Any leftover marshmallows can be toasted over the fire. Win-win!
Requires Adult Supervision
While this game has been causing mess around campfires for years, it is important to note that, when played improperly, it can lead to choking. Therefore, reserve this game for older children and supervise them at all times.
- Economical for large families
- Not suitable for all ages
- Requires adult supervision
14. Tell Me A Story
This game does what it says on the tin. Start a story using just four words and then go around in a circle getting the next person to continue the tale with another four words. Between your group, you’ll end up forming a story, with every family member having input.
This imagination-based game encourages creativity in children and gets everybody talking. It can be played by groups of kids, or the adults can join in to give a bit more direction to the plot. As it is another game that requires no equipment, it is ideal for camping as it can be played anywhere.
- Inspires kids to be imaginative
- Often results in funny stories
- Can be played by children and adults alike
- The story can become fairly illogical when playing with small children
15. Butt Head Catch Game
Unlike most of the other family camping games on our list, this one can be a little expensive depending on where you buy it from. However, it is well worth purchasing for the fun factor alone!
This hilarious game takes catch to a new level! Players will take it in turns to wear a cap with Velcro attached. The other players will take it in turns to throw squidgy balls at this person as they move their head to try and catch the balls.
Get Everyone Active
Butt Head can be played in a relatively small space but takes on new life when you’re outside. Make the most of the space and get the kids active as they run around trying to catch the balls. It is the perfect camp game if you are looking to tire out the little ones before bed.
It also has the novelty factor for both grown-ups and kids.After all, how many times are you literally encouraged to throw things at somebody’s head?! This is an opportunity that neither big kids nor little ones will want to miss!
- Fun for all ages
- Novelty factor
- Tires little ones out before bed
- Physically tiring
- Need to buy the game
16. Sleeping Bag Caterpillar Race
Drawing on the traditional sack race that you may remember from your own childhood, the sleeping bag caterpillar race requires you to bring nothing extra outside of your normal camping gear.
Make An Obstacle Course
In the game, everybody piles into their sleeping bags, ready to race to the finish line on their stomachs. If you want to, you can set up an obstacle course for everyone to follow, or even incorporate a game of Butt Head (see above) for extra points. The kids will love messing around and the adults may be surprised by how much they enjoy the game too!
Not Suitable For Wet Environments
It goes without saying that because these are your actual sleeping bags, you won’t want to trash them. Therefore, this is a game that can only really be enjoyed in fair weather. Also, be careful to avoid any forest areas as there could be debris that could cause your sleeping bag to tear.
- High energy
- Fun and original
- Requires no extra gear
- Not suitable for wet days
- Can damage sleeping bags in rough environments
This simple children’s game has long been used to keep kids occupied. It works on the premise of whispering a message to somebody, who then whispers it to somebody else, and so on. By the time the message reaches the final person in the chain, the message is likely to have been dramatically changed from the original.
Make Sure The Kids Can Whisper
Telephone is generally a simple game to play, but it is important to keep the phrases brief to avoid too much confusion. Bear in mind that it can be difficult to play with very little ones as they sometimes struggle to whisper, something many parents will know all too well. We’ve all got an embarrassing story involving our child and whispering!
Good For Rainy Nights In The Tent
As you don’t need much room to play telephone, it is a great choice for those drizzly nights when it isn’t practical to sit around a campfire.
- Great for rainy days
- Easy to pick up
- Good for adults and children
- Not good for small kids who can’t whisper
Whether you’re looking for games that will tire out the kids before bed or things you can play in your tent when the heavens open, this list of camping games for families will have something to suit. However, to determine the perfect game for your group, you’ll need to consider both their personalities and ages.
Playing camp games with the family will not only enhance your little ones’ love of nature but also teach them about the world we live in. Bringing fun into your games encourages everyone to be silly and make memories together, ones that you are all likely to remember for a very long time!