25 Camping Games and Activities

kids sitting on a log outdoors in the woodsCamping presents a great opportunity for families, friends and groups to come together to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you are learning more about your tentmates, coordinating a daytime activity or taking advantage of a night under the stars, these are entertaining ways to make the most of your time together.

Get to Know You Activities 

  1. Beach Ball Pass - Bring a large beach ball and write get to know you questions in permanent marker around the outside. Questions could include: Where are you from? What is your favorite meal? What are your talents? Have campers make a circle and throw the ball to each other. When a person catches the ball, he or she must answer the question closest to their left hand then toss it to another person in the circle. Genius Tip: Get your group laughing with a few of these funny get to know you questions.
  2. Two Truths and a Lie - For the best outcome, give participants some time to come up with two truths and a lie about themselves. When everyone is ready, play in pairs or fours, or circle up and have people reveal their two truths and a lie one at a time.
  3. Step Up - This game can be played indoors or out with as many people who want to join in. Have participants stand in a line, then ask yes or no questions. If a player answers yes to a question like: Do you have siblings? Do you like hot dogs? and so on, they take a step forward. If the answer is no, they take a step backwards. Ask the players to come up with two or three yes or no questions for increased group participation!
  4. If I Were… - Fill a bag with slips of paper to complete the sentence "If I were a ___ , I would be ___." Slips of paper could include simple things like if I were an animal, color, song, famous person, etc., or you can use the opportunity to ask more meaningful questions. Pass the bag around and have each camper pull out a word and complete the sentence on the spot.
  5. Thorn, Rose, Bud - Before heading to bed, ask each person to name something about the day that didn't go as well as they hoped (thorn), what they enjoyed most (rose) and what they are looking forward to the next day (bud).

Ask your group to contribute camping supplies with a sign up. View an Example

Day Activities 

  1. Nature Scavenger Hunt - If you are lucky enough to be surrounded by nature, use this game to go explore. Make a list for older campers and use pictures for the younger set to identify and locate specific objects or locations during the hunt. Give them a bag to place their items (then be sure to put them back) or have players take pictures of the objects they find from the list. Divide into teams or do this as an individual activity.
  2. Geocaching - You can participate in this popular activity no matter where your groups goes — from Disney World to the International Space Station. Join the community of thousands of people who track figures all over the world using GPS coordinates. Check out the official geocaching website to get started.
  3. Camping Olympics - Luckily, you don't have to have years of training to participate in these Olympics. Ask teams or individuals to each come up with one event for the games. Participants can compete in tent construction, swimming, stacking rocks, etc.
  4. Build a Raft - Setting up camp near a lake or stream? Time for a raft building contest. Rafts should be constructed using all-natural materials and stay above water for a specified amount of time. Go big with passenger rafts or smaller with model rafts and see how long they stay afloat. Don't be surprised if the group wants a few more tries to build the perfect watercraft!
  1. Frisbee Golf - All you need to enjoy this outdoor activity are Frisbees and boxes or laundry baskets. Take turns designing the course and setting up targets around trees, rocks and streams. Tweens to adults can enjoy this game together!
  2. Water Relay - Hot day? Cool off with this water activity. Line up each team facing each other's backs, everyone holding an empty cup. The first person in line fills their cup with water and dumps it behind his or her head into the waiting cup of the next person in line. Keep passing the water over your head and down the line until you get to the last person. Measure the remaining water each team has left to determine the winner.
  3. Knot Tying - Bring out the scouting spirit in everyone and hold a knot tying lesson. Once everyone gets the hang of it, have individual or team races to see who can tie the fastest!
  4. Search for Treasure - Argh, matey! An expedition searching for buried treasure is a fun and interactive way to start an adventure. While camp is being set and people begin to arrive, head out and bury the treasure! Sketch out a map or take pictures to lead the group to the prize.
  5. Cloud Naming - Need a little down time? Try this dreamy activity. Find a nice spot in an open field or cozy onto a rock and look up. Name the cloud shape above your head and create a story. For a bigger challenge, go down the line and have each person pick a person, place or thing a particular cloud reminds them of and ask the rest of the team try to guess what it is.

Coordinate food and RSVPs for a bonfire camping night with a sign up. View an Example

Evening Activities 

  1. Flashlight Tag - When the sun goes down, the fun goes up with a game of flashlight tag at your favorite camping spot. Be sure to pack enough flashlights for everyone to play or remind campers to bring their own!
  2. Story Contest - The best way to end an evening is with a good story! You can specify a topic such as a favorite part of the day, a story about a past adventure or an old-fashioned ghost story. Give awards to the top tellers and let everyone walk away a winner.
  3. S'mores Cooking Challenge - Marshmallows? Check. Chocolate? Check. Graham crackers? Check. After you've got the basics down, let campers whip up a creation using special ingredients like peanut butter cups, chocolate candies, peppermint bark and other sweet treats. Challenge the group to a cook off and see who can come up with the tastiest creation.
  4. Sleeping Bag Races - Grab your sleeping bag and get to hopping. Start this game after s'mores to release any extra energy before hitting the sack. Have racers line up in their sleeping bags and hop towards the finish line.
  5. Shadow Puppet Story - Using the glow of the moon or a flashlight, along with a bed sheet or side of a tent, tell a story using shadow puppets. Bring a book showing how your hands can create a magical tale.
  6. Night Bowling - Don't think you can bowl in the dark? Yes, you can! Place a glow stick or two in full, clear water bottles and line up the pins. Use a glow-in-the-dark painted basketball and take aim!
  7. Coffeehouse or Talent Night - End the night (or the trip) showcasing everyone's talent. Create a makeshift stage and have campers and leaders sing, dance, tell jokes and share their talents with the group. Let participants know about the event in advance so they can pack props or supplies to wow their crowd.

Register participants and organize camping essentials with a sign up. View an Example

Other Ideas 

  1. Mystery Skit Bag - Break campers into groups of three or four. Give each group a bag with several items from around the grounds or from home. On "Go," tell the group to pull out the contents and give them two minutes to make up a skit using props from the bag.
  2. Name that Tune - Make a list of several well-known tunes like "Happy Birthday," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," etc. Give the group a topic and ask them to make up a song using the tune. It could be about the day, favorite activity, cabin/tent mates, etc.
  3. Chore Chart - It's not all fun and games — camping and group trips come with chores and responsibilities to ensure all goes well. Make job assignments fun by using a game wheel, dice or mystery chore chart with each task covered with paper.
  4. Minute-to-Win-it Charades - You may know how to play charades, but have you played it minute-it-to-win-it style? Form teams made up of three to four people. Put 10-15 camping-themed activities on individual slips of paper in a bag. These could include setting up the tent, making a fire, roasting marshmallows, etc. Have the team pick who will lead charades for the group. Whoever is selected must draw from the bag and — using only gestures — try to get their team to guess as many activities as possible in a minute. If the team gets stuck on a word or phrase they can choose to pass. Count up the total number of correct answers then move on to the next team.
These games and activities are certain to keep campers happy and create wonderful memories. Plan to use one activity or challenge yourself to try all 25 during your next outing or adventure. Be sure to ask for feedback after the trip so you'll know what games and activities are surefire winners! 

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C. She gratefully shares her life, home and heart with her daughter and their dog.