Camping does a wonderful thing to adults, teens, kids, grandparents, and, well, just about everyone. Camping gives everyone a spirit of fun, sort of like everyone is at summer camp again, and everything is about having the best time ever.
Many of our favorite memories growing up were of camping with our families, spending nights out underneath the stars, roasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories, and laughing all night and day long.
One of the best parts about camping is the special games that you get to play. These game recommendations don't necessarily have to be played while camping, but they tend to come up at the campsite. They are classics for a reason.
Having the right games for your group camping trips and family outings is critical to having a memorable experience. The best camping games are ones that everyone can get involved in, have a unique theme, and can be played endlessly.
From camp counselor favorites to family reunion classics, we have compiled a list of our favorite camping games that everyone will love for your camping trip. Try a few of these and watch as they quickly become the go-to games for your camping outings.
1. A Scavenger Hunt
The first idea is a simple classic: a scavenger hunt or I-Spy game. You can play this game by hiding or finding things. You can use the items you brought with you or those found in nature like pine cones, acorns, and other small objects. Scavenger hunts offer nearly endless and reusable fun.
Nature scavenger hunts are a blast for the whole family. However, they can be particularly entertaining and joyful for children who get a kick out of exploring nature through play.
For groups of adults and teenagers, you may want to experiment with twists and turn the game into a treasure hunt. You can include better/bigger prizes hidden over a larger, more expansive area, increasing the difficulty and fun for older groups playing.
After your adventure, you can all have s'mores by the campfire and then crash in your sleeping bags.
Scavenger Hunts While Camping: Tips and Tricks
A few things to keep in mind should you choose to do a scavenger hunt for your camping trip:
- Respect Nature: The first and most basic rule to keep in mind is to respect nature and do no harm. Don't place objects in dangerous areas, and don't put toxic or unsafe items anywhere that animals may get to them.
- Partner Up: Another way to make scavenger hunts more exciting is to break people up into partners. Pairing up older and younger people will make the hunt enjoyable and safe for all participants. It's never safe to let children roam through the wild unsupervised. Following the buddy system is also crucial to keeping everyone safe.
- Check Park Rules: You also need to make sure that your scavenger hunt follows all of the rules and regulations of the campsite or national park you're visiting. Every park has slightly different rules because each park has its own unique safety threats and environmental hazards. The rules are there for your good and for nature's good. It's in everyone's best interest for you to follow them.
Another awesome game that is easy to bring with you and play on camping trips is cornhole. Cornhole (also called bean bag toss) is a classic summer barbecue game that is just as fun when camping. Cornhole is fantastic because everyone has a good chance of winning. It's also effortless to set up and replay again and again.
Cornhole is a simple competition game consisting of bean bags and wooden boards with a hole cut in them. The wooden boards are placed facing each other a fair distance apart (adjust depending upon your group). Then, one member from each team stands behind their board and takes turns throwing their bean bags in the holes of the other team's board.
Three points are awarded for getting a bag into or knocked through the hole. One point is given to bags that stay on the board throughout the round. Once each team has thrown their bean bags, points are tallied, and the team's scores are subtracted. The team with the higher score earns the point difference. The first team to 21 wins.
For an extra challenge, grab the glow sticks for a DIY glow-in-the-dark ring toss!
3. Board Games
Board games are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of camping games. You can easily spend hours playing board games, card games, and other favorites at the picnic table. Additionally, they are a handy game to bring if the weather sours and you are stuck in your tents all day.
These are some of the simplest family camping games out there:
- Go Fish
- Camping Bingo
- Old Maid
Bringing a collection of board games will ensure something for the whole group, no matter what nature decides to throw your way. Keep in mind that not all board games are ideal choices for camping trips.
Try to stay away from games with small boards and few pieces, as it can be easy to lose small pieces and parts on a campsite. Large boards can also be difficult to accommodate in camping settings.
4. Flashlight Tag
For overnight camping trips with older kids who may enjoy a little bit of spookiness, flashlight tag might just be the best campfire game ever. Flashlight tag takes the chase element of tag and adds an extra secretive element that makes hiding, discovering, and having fun inevitable.
The game is easy to play, and all you need is an area to play in, at least three or more people, and a flashlight. To get started, you first have to wait till it gets dark. It doesn't have to be pitch black if you have younger kids who still want to get involved, but it gets wilder the darker it is.
You will start by selecting one person to begin as "it." This person will start with the flashlight. "It" will then close their eyes and count to fifty. This gives everyone a chance to start hiding.
When the counting is done, the person who is "it" will attempt to find hidden players. Once you have been found, you are out. After everyone is found, you choose a new "it" and repeat.
This game can be a blast for children of all ages and adults as well, so give it a shot. Just remember to stay safe when playing in nature in the dark. Be careful of animals and hazards. Follow all park rules whenever you are playing any sort of game.
More Outdoor Game Ideas
Before we finish off our list of camping activities, we wanted to include just a few more quick ideas for simple and classic games that everyone will enjoy.
- Frisbee: If you have a frisbee, bring it with you! Everyone enjoys throwing a frisbee around, and there are tons of games you can make up with a frisbee.
- Horseshoes: Horseshoes is a classic activity — very similar to cornhole but a slightly different concept.
- Tic-Tac-Toe: For younger kids, even teaching them something like tic-tac-toe can keep them occupied for hours. When looking to occupy younger campers, remember that oftentimes the simple things will get you the most traction.
- Capture the flag: A perfect high-stakes game for older kids to enjoy.
The Game’s Afoot
Camping is a blast no matter what you do, but having the right games to bring along and play on a camping trip can make any camping trip even better.
Scavenger hunts are always a bright idea. Just make sure that you are calibrating prizes for the safety and age of participants and that you are always following park rules.
Cornhole is another great game that you can get endless hours of fun from. There is a reason it has become an outdoor classic — give it a shot, and you won't be disappointed.
You can also give board games a go if you end up stuck caught in the rain. It is a good idea to bring a few board games and a deck of cards with you so that bad weather won't rain on your parade.
And flashlight tag can be a wonderful time for children and adults. Just remember to stay safe.
After running around with these games, you're going to need a drink and a snack. Use a high-quality cooler to keep your camping snacks and drinks cold. Patriot Coolers specializes in making coolers that are built tough and can keep your food and drinks cold for days.
Check out our coolers, and let us know some of your favorite camping games.