Camping is a great way to spend time with the family. In fact, my family loves it so much that we decided to buy an RV and travel full time! But keeping kids entertained while camping can be a challenge. So what are some good camping activities for teens?
- Water balloon fight
- Play board games or card games
- Play badminton
- Nerf gun battle
- Build an obstacle course from found objects
- Extreme hide and seek
- Teach them to whittle with a pocketknife
- Play Capture the Flag
But those are just a few of the ideas explored below!
Traveling across the country, or even across the world, and really exploring is so much fun! However, if you are like me and have children and teens to entertain, you need to go the extra mile. Simply relaxing and watching the sunset won’t cut it.
This led me to put together this guide to the top 37 fun camping activities for teens and kids.
1. Have a water fight
If the weather is warm and you want to have fun with the kids, a water fight is a great way to have fun. You can use water guns, water balloons, and any other water-launching device to soak your opponents! In fact, you can even get water balloon slingshots these days!
The great thing about water fights is that you can do them with recycled water. If you have a water butt nearby or collect rainwater, you can have fun without wasting water. Make sure that the water you use is clean though. Don’t spray each other with water from a stream.
It could contain harmful germs, and the sand and silt in the water can damage your water guns. Water fights are popular games and great on a hot day in the summer heat.
2. Play Board Games
Board games can be really fun.
But they can also be really boring. The best board games to play when you are camping are the ones that quiz your knowledge. These are great, as they will make your kids more intelligent and knowledgeable, and they can have fun.
Personally, I think board games are more suited for nighttime or if the weather is bad. During the day, when there is good weather, you should be making the most of it and playing outdoors. Make sure that you pick a board game that is simple, and that everyone of all ages can enjoy.
This will ensure that none of your kids feel left out. Lots of people play regular card games and other classic games. Board games are a fun way to pass the time in the evening.
3. Feed the local wildlife
It’s a good idea to check the rules and regulations of the area, but you could feed the local wildlife. I know that there are people that use bird feeders and set them up around the area. Then, you can sit and wait for them to come. This can be really fun.
Because there are going to be lots of animals you didn’t even know existed come and eat the food. I remember going to a local nature center, and they had goats. We were allowed to feed them and even get close enough to stroke them!
It was a little nerve-racking, but how often do you get to come that close to an animal?
4. Teach them how to make a campfire
Again, this depends on your campsite rules.
Many campsites will actually have a designated area for fires and barbeques. I like making fires. This is because it teaches my kids about safety and that not everything they do is a joke. It teaches them to follow instructions and respect things that are dangerous.
Make sure that you select a good and safe site for your campfire. Campfires can be a great opportunity to sit around and tell interesting stories to one another. You could also toast marshmallows, cook, and do much more!
If it’s your kids’ first time doing this, some campsites will actually have mini-courses for kids, teaching them bushcraft and about fires. These will typically be run by a qualified camp counselor.
They will have summer camp activities and summer camp games for youth camps.
5. Go on a treasure hunt
Treasure hunts can be really interesting for young kids. If you have teenagers to entertain, then you may have to re-name it to “orienteering”. It sounds a bit more adult for them! You can use something like the geocaching app to find local treasures.
The best thing about nature scavenger hunts is that it makes your kids more aware of their surroundings. When they are looking for something, they have their eyes wide open. They take in all the nature and become really spatially aware.
And if the treasure is something awesome (like chocolate!), then they will be really happy once they get their hands on it.
— The Lone Overlander (@theLoneOverland) March 28, 2019
6. Tell some stories
You could also tell stories to one another. Stories are great.
They are an opportunity to learn from one another’s past experiences. If there are some older people at the campsite, go and have a chat with them. Most people I have met at campsites tend to be really friendly.
You never know who you might meet. You could get to hear the stories of a World War 2 veteran or a professional athlete! If you have young kids, it is best to stay away from the ghost stories though! You need them to fall asleep, remember!
Stories are a good way of learning new lessons and are perfect for rainy days. Storytime is the perfect time for sharing your own ideas. Stories are also great for larger groups.
7. Go hiking
Hiking is one of my all-time favorite activities.
It gives me and the kids a chance to completely disconnect from everything and be alone together. It is really nice being alone as a family, with no one else around you for miles.
It is also a great chance for your kids to work on skills like map reading and navigation. They will also have to carry first aid kits, weatherproof clothing, and their own food and water. This will teach them to be prepared and organized.
Depending on your location, you could hike over mountains, through forests, and along lakes. Nature is a wonderful place to be! Hiking around state parks is a great activity.
8. Build an obstacle course
Depending on where you are, you could build an obstacle course.
Take things like branches, twigs, if you have a rope, inflatable toys, and other things to build your own version of “ninja warrior”. It might not be the most challenging course in the world, but you can come up with some fun ideas.
It is a great way to inspire your kids to be more creative.
It also teaches them how to compete with people but still show sportsmanship and be friendly to one another. A lot of campsites will actually have a play area for kids, so you could just take them there.
9. Build a shelter
Building shelters is super fun. You have to come up with different ways of building structures. You can make a rain shelter, a shelter for sleeping in, and more. Make sure that when you are done with using your shelter, you put everything back the way you found it.
You want to keep the landscape looking as natural as possible. You can also try sleeping in your shelter one night if your local laws allow it! Young kids should remember their roll mats and sleeping bags.
I had a great time building shelters. It is a great chance for your kids to get creative and learn how to use tools like knives, axes, and ropes.
Of course, it is best to not let young kids use these tools. This is a brilliant way to spend free time.
10. Play badminton
Badminton is a really popular sport, and for good reason. It is low-impact yet fast-paced, and you can play it pretty much anywhere you have space. You can buy portable badminton kits online for less than $50. They often come with a net, rackets, and shuttles.
I recommend that you use feather shuttles instead of plastic shuttles. This is because the feather shuttles are heavier, and you can use them outdoors, even if there is a little wind.
Playing badminton is great for kids. It increases their fitness, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination. This can help them learn other sports quicker in the future as they grow up.
Try to play badminton in a safe space. You don’t want to be twisting your ankle on uneven ground. You can also have competitions. Such as who can be the first player to pull off a trick shot.
— iRunFar (@iRunFar) July 14, 2016
11. Have a race
Racing is so much fun. You don’t just have to have running races when you are camping. Any timed contest could be a race. For example, who can build a shelter the fastest? Who can find a certain bird and take a picture the fastest?
You could also have swimming races or race bikes if you have them. You could even race in potato sacks or have a relay race. You can pretty much compete against each other in any activity. This is great for any family camping trip, and racing is great fun!
You could have a forfeit for the last person and a reward for the first person or first team to inspire more competitiveness!
12. Have a nerf battle
Nerf battles were my all-time favorite outdoor games when I was young, without question. There is something so satisfying about watching that foam dart fly through the air!
I recommend that you don’t actually buy a nerf gun though. This is because they won’t be powerful enough to use outdoors. Rather, you should look into getting the Ceda model S half dart foam blaster.
This foam dart gun shoots much harder and further than regular nerf guns. Therefore, they are better for use outdoors and when your opponent may be further away. Keep count of how many darts you shoot, and remember to pick them up after.
Also, wear safety goggles, and inspect the darts for dirt and debris before putting them back into the gun. Nerf is a really fun activity.
13. Go hunting
This depends on your local laws and whether you have access to the weapons required. It also depends on whether your children are capable of it. However, there is nothing more satisfying than hunting and catching your own food. Just like the early humans did thousands of years ago.
Hunting is a great opportunity to teach your kids about resilience, patience, health, and safety when handling weapons and tools and to respect nature. This might not be suitable for younger children or for taking the whole family out though.
14. Practice archery
Archery is great fun. It is quite affordable too. You only need to have one bow and a target, and you can all shoot as a family. You can compete against each other too if you want.
Archery is good for kids as it teaches them how to focus and control the bow. It is not as easy as it looks. If your kids struggle, start them off close to the target. Then walk back one yard every time you hit the target. Archery is one of the most fun activities.
15. Visit an airsoft or paintball venue
Some paintball and airsoft sites will have age restrictions.
But as a general rule, kids over 10 years of age can do paintballing and airsoft. The best thing about these sports is that it teaches your kids how to quickly form a team with a bunch of strangers.
This will then help them when they go back to school or enter the workplace. They will also learn how to shoot and become more spatially aware. So, if your kids are tough enough and mature enough for it, why not?
Younger children can improve their leadership skills and work with team members to defeat the opposing team. This is great for large groups.
16. Try and use a boomerang
Boomerangs really confuse me. I have no idea how a piece of plastic or wood can come back to me when I throw it. It’s not as easy as it looks, you know. You have to throw the boomerang at a specific angle and get the right number of rotations on it.
Giving your kids a boomerang is a great way to teach them to be resilient when using new tools and machines.
They may have to throw the boomerang up to 100 times before they get it right! But they will see small improvements with each throw, and it is quite addictive!
Boomerangs are one of the most fun yet simple activities for young campers.
Beautiful day with the classic kid entertainment tool, the FRISBEE and some fun COUNTRY LIFE kids TEEs!!!
👧🏼👦🏼💕https://t.co/4LaE88qF87#countrylife #frisbee #ultimatefrisbee #kids #countrykids #kidsfashion #kidsofinstagram #camping #campingaustralia #workingbull #bestlife pic.twitter.com/qoidzFP2mL
— Working Bull (@working_bull) November 9, 2021
17. Play frisbee
Frisbee is a really simple game, but it can keep your kids occupied for hours. If things get boring, spice it up a bit. Instead of standing still, try and catch the frisbee when you are on the move. You can also play frisbee in water if you are competent swimmers, and it is safe to do so.
Be creative and think of new ways to make this classic game more interesting. Frisbee is one of the most fun camping games.
18. Learn first aid
Hopefully, you will never have to use first aid on anyone. But teaching your kids about what to do if they get cuts and sprains out in the wild can be life-saving. It is also something that is bound to keep their attention. Young kids love playing games like doctor and nurse.
So why not share some beneficial knowledge with them and teach them the real deal? First aid is a great addition to their skill set.
19. Track a wild animal
Tracking animals will teach your kids to keep quiet and be patient. If you are in a place far away from home, you may see animals you have never seen before in your life!
Birdwatching can get a little boring for children, but you can make it more interesting. Set up a place for birds to come and eat, and then try taking photographs or videos of them. You could also try and memorize the names of different bird species.
This outdoor activity is great for kids of all ages. It is also the perfect time for young kids to learn to use their little eyes and pay attention to their surroundings and focus.
21. Draw the landscape
It can be quite therapeutic for both kids and adults to draw the landscape.
You can draw at different times of the day. There are also many drawing techniques you could use to make things more interesting. You could use a pencil, pastels, or paint. And all you need is a piece of paper.
Open water swimming is not without its risks, so this should only be done at places with lifeguards. However, swimming is great physical exercise, and it teaches your kids how to stay calm in the water. Swimming is also a life skill.
So we haven’t been able to go to @disneylandparis this week as planned, so the kids have chosen camping and a barbecue in the garden instead – I wonder what time they’ll want inside to their own beds? 😂😂 @leaanne16 pic.twitter.com/4KdQxa6hqc
— Stuart Taylor (@stuie17) May 6, 2020
23. Have a barbeque
If your campsite allows barbeques, then make sure you make the most of it.
You can teach your kids how to marinate meat, season their food, and about the different cuts of meat. Barbeques are delicious, and they will give your kids all the energy they need for the day!
Cooking and eating is everyone’s favorite way to spend camp time and is great for small groups.
Whittling is where you carve wood using sharp tools. It is a great way to teach your kids about health and safety when using dangerous objects. It will also improve their creativity and manual dexterity.
25. Build something with wood
If you don’t want your kids to sit there with knives, you could just get them to play with branches and stuff. When I was young, my brother and I used to make houses, models, and other stuff out of wood that was in the forest.
26. Build a raft
Raft building can be really fun. You have to find a way to make something float, and then tie things to it, and make sure it does not drift away. The raft will also have to be stable enough for you to sit on it when you are on the water.
Raft building is a great way to get your kids to learn to listen to one another’s ideas. You could set yourself a time limit to make it more interesting.
27. Build a slingshot
If your kids are mature enough to play with a slingshot without hurting anyone, then this can be great fun. It is an old-school toy that will keep them occupied for hours. Just make sure they know how to stay safe and understand that they should not damage or hurt anything.
— Meghan (@tbonegrl) July 31, 2022
28. Kayaking or Paddleboarding
You can get inflatable kayaks for about $300. They are great because you can store them in your car and then pump them up when you need them. They usually take about 10 minutes to pump up. Exploring the local rivers and lakes is really interesting for kids and teens.
Paddleboarding is more suited for athletic kids that like a challenge. It is quite difficult to stabilize yourself on a paddleboard and takes some serious practice, coordination, and skill. Paddleboards are better for calm waters, like lakes.
Paddle boarding is so much fun and is a great way to spend quality time with energetic, younger kids.
29. Extreme hide and seek
The woods, rocks, caves, cliffs, and other places often found at campsites make a GREAT place for a more advanced version of hide and seek.
Of course, use caution if you’re camping in bear or mountain lion country. But the kids will love the challenge of finding one another in such a wild and unusual setting.
And it can easily occupy them for hours.
30. Look at the stars
Stargazing can be truly amazing in places where there are no clouds or light pollution. Until you have seen stars in all their beauty, you have no idea how beautiful the night sky can be. I highly recommend doing it once in your life.
Fishing is really challenging. Your kids are going to have to be on their A-game if they are to catch fish. You can take a more relaxed approach and fish on a riverbank, or you can fish on a boat. It’s up to you!
32. Have a snowball fight
If you are in a snowy place or in the mountains, have a snowball fight. They are so much fun. Make sure you wear waterproof gloves, otherwise, you will get freezing cold. Snowball fights are a really fun game.
— THE COMIC ROOM (@thecomicroom) October 17, 2021
33. Reading or writing
For kids that are calmer, reading and writing recounts about their camping trip can be great. Not many kids will want to sit down and write when camping though.
34. Learn about the area’s history
Some places have an amazing history. Many places around the world will have guided tours of quarries, mines, prisons, war sites, and other amazing places. You will be truly amazed at some of the things that have happened in the local area!
35. Make a video of your trip
For the more tech-savvy kids, vlogging may be what they enjoy. It is great because it teaches them about filmmaking, editing, and directing. Whilst they probably won’t want to become a filmmaker, these skills are highly transferable in today’s world.
36. Play capture the flag
One of the oldest games of all time. If you have a bunch of kids, then playing this game is really exciting. You can play regular capture the flag, or you can spice it up with nerf guns, water guns, and other things. Capturing the team’s flag is not easy!
37. Invent your own game
Some kids are just hard to entertain. So instead of trying to please them, allow them to entertain themselves and create their own games. Just make sure you set them some rules. Such as no technology, no fighting games, etc.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to inventing your own games!
Overall, camping can be super fun. However, if you have kids, you are going to have to find ways to keep them entertained. The most fun things to do when camping include playing ball games, making campfires and barbeques, hiking, and inventing your own games.
You don’t want your kids getting bored and getting into trouble with spray paint and stuff. So make sure they have something to do.
All kids are different, so try and get your kids to agree on what games to play. There are lots of different activities. Teach them to compromise and play each other’s games too. This will ensure you have a smooth and fun camping trip with your kids.
Photo by Helena Lopes: https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-person-standing-at-top-of-grassy-mountain-697244/