Family Camping Ideas & Tips
Finding camping activities for the whole family can be difficult. Interests, energy levels and attention spans vary, especially between children and adults.
We know how it is when the boredom kicks in, or the activities lose their appeal and the complaining starts.
Kids may not find the prospect of bird watching very interesting, but there are plenty of things to do, that everyone can enjoy. All you will need is some good family camping ideas.
In this article we’ll go over some of the best camping tips and ideas, to help you make the most of your camping trip and ensure everyone is having a good time.
Games are a sure way to get everyone together having fun, even small children can join in.
If you have kids that are too young to understand the game, you can still include them by making teams. Team up an adult, or older sibling with the younger child and have them help.
Teaming up for games is also a good way to encourage older children to work together.
Jenga is a fun game that everyone can understand and participate in. This game requires patience and precision, making it a great game to get everyone calmed down and focused.
If you have younger players, don’t be afraid to change the rules up a little. Stacking the game a little differently can make it easier for clumsier hands to join in on the fun.
Chess is a classic. This game challenges you intellectually and requires you to think about your future moves. This is a two player game, but you can always play in teams of two.
Afterall, two heads are better than one. Include smaller kids by letting them move the pieces. You do all the thinking and they get to touch the game, while learning how to play.
Chess can be a great way to unwind before it’s time to crawl into sleeping bags for the night, or spend a rainy day.
There are several versions of monopoly out now and the game still hasn’t lost its charm. Monopoly is a game that can go on for days before someone wins.
However, thanks to rule variations it can also be played in a much shorter time frame. Speed monopoly can be played in an hour or less.
We like electronic banking monopoly for camping, it makes it easier for younger players to participate. It also eliminates the paper money, keeping track of all the money when the wind picks up can be a challenge.
Chasing monopoly money around our campsite is not a part of the game we enjoy.
Who hasn’t played scrabble? This game is a family favorite and it’s not going to be unthroned from popularity any time soon.
However classic scrabble can be a pain to play outdoors. Every bump of the table, or board sends the tiles sliding out of place, that’s why we love raised grid boards.
The tiles sit in the board, instead of laying on top and they don’t move. Regardless of board style though, this game is a great way for the whole family to spend some quality relaxation time, while camping.
Giant Dominoes –
Dominoes is a fun game, but playing giant dominoes is even better. If you’ve never played giant dominoes, it is exactly the same as classic dominoes, with one exception.
The dominoes are huge and designed to be played with on the ground, instead of a table. They are usually made from foam, or plastic, so they’re lightweight despite their size.
This puts a brand new twist on an old game. As a bonus, younger children will have fun stacking, standing and knocking these dominoes over, even if they don’t understand the intended use.
Jigsaw Puzzles –
Jigsaw puzzles come in a never ending supply of themes, any photo can be made into a jigsaw puzzle.
They come in many different difficulties, ranging in pieces from less than 50, to over 5,000.
They are also relatively inexpensive, so puzzles are one of the best ways to get the whole family working together on a project while camping, non competitively.
Badminton is a fun game that can be played with 2, or 4 people. We’ve played in teams before, but it gets messy.
If you don’t have a place to set up the net, you can always improvise with a row of fold out chairs, or even a camping table. If you don’t mind, you can even play without the net, you’ll still have fun.
You may not have heard of this game. If you haven’t, it can be a fun way to spend an afternoon of camping and you don’t need a lot of space to play.
Bowls is played with two teams, and the goal is to roll your bowl as close to the jack ( a smaller white ball in the centre of the game area) as possible.
Bowls is a fairly easy camping game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Frisbee is a simple game that can help burn off energy and doesn’t require anything but a fair amount of open space, it can even be played in the water.
However, If you’re in a crowded area frisbee may not be the best choice. If you don’t have many fellow campers, or trees around, frisbee is a quick way to get the whole family engaged and playing together.
Yard Darts –
You may not trust the smallest members of your family to throw classic darts, but yard darts is safe for the whole family. It doesn’t take much room and the game can be played in teams.
Tossing darts and trying to land them inside the target ring is sure to provide hours of fun.
Archery is a good way to have some fun with older family members. It doesn’t have to be boring target practice either, there are many ways to switch up this classic sport.
Archery tic-tac-toe, balloon targets, archery H.O.R.S.E and Robin Hood are all modern twists that make this sport a little more challenging and a lot more fun.
Volleyball isn’t just for the beach, this game can be played on almost any terrain. You probably won’t want to test out your dives on hard ground though.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to have some fun with the whole family, string up a net and grab a volleyball.
Nature has plenty of activities to offer, the possibilities are endless and it may take more than one camping trip to do them all.
Young, or old nature has something to offer and teach everyone. Why not check out our family camping ideas for activities which help you explore nature below.
Hiking isn’t just good exercise, it is a great way to get out and see nature. Many campsites have hiking trails that are mapped out to show you the best sights and sites the area has to offer.
From wildlife viewing points, to ancient trees and secluded ponds, the whole family will enjoy trekking through the woods.
Many trails also have markers, or information boards that tell you interesting things about the area and give you some ideas of what to look for.
Wildlife Watching –
With nature comes the chance to see many kinds of animals, from deer to turtles, nature is full of life. Seeing these animals can be exciting for the whole family, especially if you’ve never seen them close up before.
Some of the animals you may see are deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, beavers, turtles and birds. When wildlife watching be sure not to approach, or intentionally scare the animals.
Many of the animals you may see are harmless and non threatening, but any animal can be dangerous when cornered, or scared.
Bird Watching –
Avian watching can be done while hiking, or relaxing. You can take along a camera and notebook if you want to record the birds you see.
This can even be turned into a game by seeing who can find the most birds, or by choosing a specific kind of bird and seeing if you can find it.
You will probably hear a bird before you see it, so they aren’t usually hard to locate. Don’t be surprised if the birds get quiet once they notice your presence.
Kayaking is a good way to get out on the water and explore. Unlike bigger boats, kayaks can navigate the shallower waters near the shore, so you’ll get a good look at the water life that lives in them.
Frogs, minnows, snails and many other small creatures can be found in shallow lake waters.
Kayaking can also be a good way to burn off some energy, or find a quiet place on the opposite shore for a picnic, or a whole different adventure. Even the youngest members of your family can enjoy a kayaking trip.
Nature has its own menu and during the warmer month all kinds of edible plants can be found.
Spending a day looking for nuts and berry bushes not only offers you a fresh treat, but it can also be a good way to educate yourself and family members on what plants are okay to eat and what plants aren’t.
Don’t ever eat anything if you aren’t sure what it is and keep an eye out for poisonous plants that like to grow near, or imitate edible plants.
Some of the most common poisonous plants you can encounter are, nightshade, poison oak and poison ivy. Some of these produce a reaction when touched, but some are only poisonous if ingested.
Be sure to research the area and become familiar with the poisonous plants that are native.
Camping and fishing are often associated together, for good reason. Fishing is not only a relaxing and challenging activity, it is also a great food source for campers.
Technology has made it easy to bring along our own food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat your catch. This is a great family activity and it doesn’t have to be fancy.
Tackle boxes and fancy lures aside, all you need is a pole, a hook and some bait. Worms, bread and even bugs make great bait for pond and lake fish.
A camping trip can be a great time to sit back and finish your favorite novel, or start on book you’ve wanted to read, but haven’t had time.
With minimal interruptions, no ringing phone and no knocks on the door, you’ll have the peace and quiet needed to enjoy your book.
You can stay in the tent, or take a blanket and go find a quiet place to lay out and enjoy some you time.
Mountain Biking –
Mountain biking allows you to hit the trails in a different way. You’ll hone your skills on the terrain while getting to see all the sights and travel further than if you were walking.
This can be a family activity, just be sure to scout the trails first if you plan to take along younger bikers. Oftentimes the trails can have obstacles, or unpredictable terrain, due to weather, erosion and trees falling.
Scouting the trail first will help you ensure that even the youngest members of your group will have fun, while being safe.
After playing and exploring all day, relaxing around a campfire is a good way to end the evening.
But, that doesn’t mean all the fun is over for the day, there are plenty of activities you can do while you cook and everyone settles down for the night.
This is also a great time to catch up on what everyone learned and how everyone enjoyed their day, as well as, family camping ideas for the next day.
Telling Jokes and Stories –
Telling jokes and stories is a good way to help everyone get settled down and ready for bed.
You can make up a story, tell a classic campfire tale, or just talk about something you seen, or did during the day.
Give each person a turn to tell a story, or tell a joke.
Singing Songs –
You don’t have to be a pro singer to start a singalong. The songs can be anything you like, kids songs, classic camping songs, or even your favourite song from the radio.
It doesn’t matter what you sing, as long as you’re having fun. If you have younger campers, nursery rhymes are a good way to help them get included too.
Playing I Spy –
I spy is a good way to get everyone paying attention to their surroundings and having fun. This game can also be played while hiking.
This game is a great way for younger kids especially to recognize and remember small details about where they are and it could help them find their way back if they should wander off.
Cooking while camping is a family activity, whether you’re grilling, or roasting dinner over the fire.
Making s’mores is also a fun way to include everyone, just be sure to help younger children hold their stick and don’t let them get too close to the fire.
Tips & Tricks
There are some clever family camping ideas, tips and tricks that can make your trip that little better. Check out our list of these below.
Bring Extra Shelter
Bringing extra shelter ensures there’s enough space for everyone and you have back up, just in case something happens.
Bring Quick Cleaning Solutions
Messes happen, especially with children. Bringing wipes, or a spray bottle filled with water and some paper towels will make clean up a lot easier.
Bring Dehydrated Food Rations
You may not need them, but it is always a good idea to have extra food on hand. Camping can be unpredictable and all it takes is a cooler left open, to spoil your meals.
Dehydrated food rations are almost indestructible and they aren’t susceptible to heat, or cold.
Bring Frozen Food Inside a Cool Box
Frozen food makes a quick meal and it won’t attract bugs, or animals. Frozen food offers more of a variety than dehydrated rations and it lasts longer than fresh food, as long as it stays frozen.
Bring Extra Water
You can never have enough water, from cleaning up, to cooking, to drinking you’re going to need a lot of water. Bringing extra water ensures you won’t run out.
Create a Shoe Cleaning Station
Camping can get muddy. A designated shoe cleaning area will give you a set place to get all the mud and muck off, while keeping it out of the tent. This area can also be used to remove muddy gear and get cleaned up a little in general, that way all the muck stays in one place.
Seal Left Over Food Away
Never leave food sitting out and be sure to seal it and store it after use. It won’t take long for the wildlife to catch the scent of your meal cooking and they will get curious.
If you leave it out, they won’t hesitate to stop by for an easy meal while you’re sleeping, or away from camp.
In addition, never leave food for animals, or attempt to hand feed them. Animals fed by humans, associate humans with food, which poses a serious risk for the animals and people.
Often times animals that are overly friendly, or comfortable with people are destroyed by game and wildlife officers.
This especially applies to animals like bears that can be docile, but easily turn deadly when aggravated and will destroy camps in search of food, once they learn campers have food.
Solar Powered Charger
Camping lacks a few modern technologies, electricity is one of them. A solar powered charger will ensure necessities like your GPS stay charged and work when you need them.
Wood Fuelled Rocket Stove
If the weather is inclement, or the ground is too wet to get a campfire going, this little stove will save the day.
Binoculars are a must for bird watching and wildlife watching. It is hard to get a close up view of the creatures without them. Binoculars can also be great for getting a better look at the views from hill tops and from the water.
Night Vision Goggles
If you plan to catch a glimpse of nocturnal wildlife, or get the urge for a midnight stroll, night vision goggles are a necessity.
Once the sun goes down it’s going to get really dark, a camping lamp will provide light for activities once the sun sets.
First Aid Kit
Injuries can happen at any time, it is a good idea to have a well stocked first aid kit on hand. That way you’re prepared if someone falls, or cuts themselves.
Bugs can be annoying and some such as ticks and mosquitoes can cause serious illnesses. Bug repellent is a must to assist in keeping these annoying pests away.
Camping is a great opportunity to see the night sky. The lights in cities reflect off sky, making it nearly impossible to see all but the brightest of stars and planets. The lack of artificial light while camping will allow you to see a lot more than your backyard would.
Wind Up Radio
A wind up radio will provide a few stations to listen to and it will keep you up to date on any weather warnings in the area.
Colouring and Puzzle Books
Colouring and puzzle books are a good way to pass the time during rainy days. They can also be a good way to occupy younger campers during slow paced activities like fishing, or when you need a few moments to yourself.
For obvious reasons, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t forget to bring a decent supply of toilet paper.
Camping can be a lot of fun, but there are hazards as well. Safety drills are essential for everyone to know what to do and what to expect if there were an emergency.
Learn the plan and make sure everyone understands, go over the drills until you’re confident that everyone knows what to do.
Young children should always be with an adult and never left alone. Below find our essential family camping ideas and tips if the worst happens.
What to do if
One of you becomes lost:
If you are lost
- If you become lost, stay where you are as long as you are safe.
- Don’t wander around and potentially get lost further.
- Think about how long you’ve been gone, check the time. This will give you an idea of how far you are from camp.
- Retrace your steps, you may have just taken a wrong turn.
- Check your gps, map, or compass and figure out which way you need to go
- Listen for people calling your name
If you are looking for someone who is lost :
- Alert local rangers, or authorities
- Go the direction they went
- Bring supplies and water in case they are injured
- Bring a phone, in case you need to call for help
- Look for signs, like footprints
- Call their name
You encounter a wild animal:
Most wild animals are going to do their best to stay away from you, but in the chance you come across one there are a few things you should do and not do.
- Try to approach the animal
- Corner the animal or make it feel trapped
- Feed the animal
- Never turn your back to a predator and never run. Running will stimulate their prey drive and they will give chase.
- Never mess with baby animals, their mother won’t be far away and she won’t be happy if her baby makes a stress signal. Even naturally docile animals may kill to protect their young. Even if a baby animal appears abandoned, it isn’t. Many animals hide their young while they hunt, or scavenge nearby.
- Stop and give the animal space to continue, or retreat
- Stand in a tight group if you’re with others and pick up small children
- Make loud noise, yell, or wave your hands if the animal approaches you
- If the animal is a predator, like bears, mountain lions, or wolves, face it and do not run. If the loud noises do not scare it off, back away from it slowly, while looking at it.
- Throw rocks, branches, or any nearby objects to scare away predators
Fall into deep water:
If you fall into water there a few things you can do to prevent drowning:
- Try to swim, the current will grab you and could pull you under. Swimming will also tire you out and cause your body to require more oxygen.
- Shed heavy gear, if it is pulling you under
- Float on your back in order to stay out of the current. Fight your instincts, not the water.
- Stay calm
- Focus on your breathing
- Use your arms to paddle on your back if the water is calm
There is a Forest Fire:
Forest fires happen, especially during summer months when the dry season is at its peak. These fires can be started by lightning, or careless campers.
If you are caught in a forest fire:
- Don’t try to outrun the fire, you may end up blocked in.If there is water nearby go to it, and enter it. If it is not big enough to enter, crouch or lay in it.
- If there is no water find a depressed area, with no, or few plants and lay in it.
- Cover your body with soil, or wet clothing if possible.
- Breathe the air closest to the ground to limit smoke inhalation and breathe through fabric if possible.
- Stay away from dense vegetation, long grass and trees if possible.
Using These Camping Ideas & Tips
You may already know some of these things, but we hope you have learned some new things as well. Camping is about having fun and getting into nature, but every family is different.
Use your own discretion when planning activities for your family and keep each person’s needs in mind. The number of things to do while camping is endless and you can alter these activities as needed.
There are no set rules on how to hike, for example. As long as you’re doing it safely, following laws, or park rules, respecting nature and having fun, feel free to do it your own way.
If you are new to camping and are tempted by a family trip why not read our article on the benefits of wild camping here.
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