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Things To Do With Kids on a Camping Trip

Benefits of Camping Food Ideas for Family Camping Fun Things to do with Kids When Camping Camping with Pets Camping Checklist

A camping trip with kids can be a unique and exciting event however it is important to consider the kids when you are planning the trip. While sitting back and enjoying the solitude and scenery is perfect for adults, most kids need to be occupied.  Remember to have a lot of funs things planned to keep the kids amused and to skirt the famous "I'm Bored" moan.

The first step is to pick a family-friendly campground that features such things as swimming pools, playgrounds, nature trails, ranger programs, and boating.  This will help with planning fun events.

With that said here are some ideas to keep the family busy on your camping trip.

  • Bike Riding:   What is more fun than a bike ride to enjoy the beautiful scenery? Be sure to plan the event a head of time so that you know exactly where you are going and be realistic about the distance.   Keep a pace that works for everyone so that no one gets tired and all can make it back to the campsite.  Bring a picnic lunch so that you can stop and take a break.  Make sure you have a map -- just in case!!
  • Scavenger Hunt:  Kids love scavenger hunts.  Make sure you create a buddy system.  It would be great if there was an adult with each group.   Keep it easy and make sure you set boundaries.   You can ask for things like: maps, pine cones, rocks, 1/2 pound of dirt or sand (be sure to bring something to measure it), leaf, signature of a park ranger or employee, plastic fork, piece of rope, program of events, ice cream cone or wrapper etc...
  • Orienteering:  Teach them how to use a map and compass to find their way back to camp.  Explore the forest with them using the maps and compasses.  Point out anything significant on your path that will help them to navigate back to camp. This should always be done with adult supervision.
  • Build a Campfire:  Sit by the fire at night, sing songs, tell stories and enjoy each others company.  Don't forget to bring marshmallows to roast -- everyone loves S'mores.
  • Wilderness Cooking:  Kids love to cook so make dinner preparation an event.  Have them help in any way possible.  Cut up salad, cook hot dogs on the fire, set the table etc...
  • Star Gazing:   This is both fun and educational for your children.  Point out famous constellations that you sometimes can see at home.  The kids will be amazed at the difference in the way the sky looks without lights, buildings and cars.
  • Water Activities: Swimming, wave-ridding, canoeing, rafting and kayaking are always fun and exciting.  Guided trips are available in many National and State Parks.
  • Wood Gathering:  You can make this a fun event.  Tell a child exactly what sort of wood you want them to find for your fire and then set out on a hunt.  Younger children can seek kindling or pinecones.
  • Outdoor Games: Relay races, tug-of-war, soccer, sack races, tag, volleyball, Frisbee, catch, horseshoes, baseball, football.
  • Ranger Led Programs:  Most National and State Parks will have guided ranger program featuring interesting aspects of the park. You can learn the local and native history of the area.  This can be interesting, educational and fun.
  • Horseback Riding or Pony Rides:  What kid would not like riding a horse?  Depending on their age they may need to ride with mom or dad.  For most children this is a unique and fun outing.
  • Hiking:  Enjoy the scenery and investigate animals in their natural environment.  Most parks and camp sites have brochures of the animals in the area.  Make it a game to see if the kids can locate those listed in the brochure.

  • Rock collecting:  Keep them busy by having them seek out unusual rocks.  Be sure to ask them why they found them to be so interesting.  This can be turned into a project when you get home.  Have them decorate the inside lid of a box and then glue the rocks in.  Make sure they add the date and place where they were found.
  • Skits:  Break into small groups and create a skit -- then perform it at night in front of the fire. 
  • Winter Activities:  Skiing or snowboarding, rent snow mobiles, snowshoeing, sledding or ice skating.
  • Kit Flying:  If you have a windy day pull out the kite and give it a whirl especially if you are near a beach.
  • Flashlight Walks:  Taking a walk in the dark is full of unusual sites and sounds.  Be sure to scout out a safe trail prior to this adventure with the kids.  Give each child a flashlight and slowly walk the trail.  Focus on glowing eyes, rock formations, tree branches etc...  Have the kids describe some of the things that they see.  Try turning off the flashlights and listening to the sounds.