Camping with your family can make for an incredibly rewarding vacation. When camping with kids, you’ll need to have plenty of activities prepared in advance to keep them occupied. Make sure to pack smart and load the vehicle as economically as possible, to ensure that you bring everything you need to keep their young minds stimulated and their hands busy! Bikes, kayaks, fishing rods; you can never go wrong with these! Invest in a hitch cargo carrier for your vehicle to take with on camping trips and vacations to give you extra storage room for supplies and fun things to do.
Here are 10 fun activities that you can use to keep your kids busy on a camping trip:
1. Visual Scavenger Hunt: Make your kids a list of items to look for while you’re exploring. For example, while you’re at the campground, some items you could use are a tree with branches you can reach, a rock in an unusual color, or a bird feather. On the road, you can use items like cars of a certain color, different types of buildings, or scenic features like rivers, mountains, and trees. A visual scavenger hunt gives you children something to focus on and prevents boredom. You can even turn it into a competition—make a different list for everyone in your family, and see who can find all of their items first.
2. Make Shadow Puppets: Another fun activity for kids to enjoy at night is making shadow puppets. This is very easy to do with a flashlight and is a great way to entertain little ones. Just using your hands, you can make shadow creatures like rabbits, birds, and even deer. Look up some fun shadow puppet ideas before you go, and teach them to your kids once you’re all settled in and enjoying your evening.
3. Learn How to Make S’mores: S’mores are a classic campfire sweet treat that is incredibly fun to make with kids. You’ll need marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. Roast the marshmallows over the fire until they have a gooey consistency, and then make a sandwich using the marshmallow, chocolate bars, and two graham crackers. Not only do they taste great, but these little snacks are fun to make as well. If you’re camping with very young kids, supervise them closely to make sure they stay safe around the campfire.
4. Tell Campfire Stories: After you’ve made your s’mores, you can have fun telling campfire stories to your kids. Depending on how old your kids are, you can tell funny stories or stories with a creepy edge. There are a huge number of campfire stories available online that you can use for reference if you need some ideas. You can also have the kids tell their own campfire stories.
5. Collect Rocks and Other Treasures: A great way to keep your kids occupied during the day is to have them look for little ‘souvenirs’. Have them look for rocks, sticks, and other small items that are interesting to them. They can even use these items as materials for arts and crafts projects if you’re feeling particularly creative. Make sure that your children aren’t harming the area’s ecosystem when looking for items—have them avoid touching living plants or any part of an animal’s habitat.
6. Explore: If there are trails in the area, find ones with an easy to moderate difficulty level and go off on an adventure. You can also explore the area around the campsite together if it is safe. Have kids look for wildlife and interesting scenery that they might not see at home. You can even bring a camera to document the fascinating things you find together.
7. Play Board or Card Games: There’s going to be some downtime at the campsite, so make sure you bring some simple board and card games to play together. If you are traveling with more than one child, you can have them play games while you and the other adults are setting up camp or getting other chores done. Ideally, you should choose games that don’t require too many small pieces – you don’t want to lose them out in the woods.
8. Draw Your Surroundings: If your kids love to create, have them draw the unique things they see at the campsite. They can draw trees, a campfire, birds, a sunset – the possibilities are endless when you are surrounded by beautiful nature. Not only will this keep them occupied, but having the pictures will help them remember the camping trip. As a parent, you’ll also love looking back on the pictures they drew as they get older.
9. Do Camping Chores Together: There are plenty of things that will need to get done around the campsite, and if your children need a distraction, you can have them help out. Not only will this help you get things done faster, but your kids will be happy to have the responsibility and want to contribute. You can have them look for firewood, help clean up after a meal, or set up pillows and blankets to sleep. This will teach them helpful camping skills that will be useful as they get older.
10. Read a Book: Make sure your children always bring a book to read for a camping trip. There will be times when they get tired and need a solo activity to recharge their batteries. You can read a book to them or have them read on their own. This is also a great opportunity to unplug and spend some time away from cell phones and iPads.
Camping with your kids can be incredibly rewarding. Make sure you plan ahead and have activities ready to go for when your kids start to get antsy. When your children are happily occupied, everyone will be able to enjoy the camping trip.