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Scavenger Hunts and Other Fun Games for Kids

There are so many ways for kids to have fun on a camping trip, and with a little advance planning, you can make sure you’ll never hear those dreaded words, “We’re bored!”  Here are a few ideas:

Plan a Scavenger Hunt scavenger hunt

This tried-and-true activity has several variations:

  • Nature Hunt. For this classic version, identify items that can be readily found at your campsite (an oak leaf, feather, pine cone, etc.). Give each child a checklist of them along with a pen or crayon and a brown paper bag to put their findings in. Then send them off on their search.  (Before you leave home, you can even find free printable scavenger hunt lists online.) This can also be a good opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of protecting nature by asking them to only take things that have dropped to the ground instead of picking items such as flowers or leaves off of living plants or trees
  • Alphabet Hunt. Have the kids go through the campground and identify something that starts with each letter of the alphabet, in order: Apple, baseball, camp stove, etc.
  • Camera Hunt. If you have a group of older kids who have access to a cell phone or digital camera, give them a list of things to find and take pictures of around the campsite:  a blue tarp, a man with a mustache, a BBQ grill, etc. Remind them, though, to get permission before they take photos of people.

Scavenger hunts are the most fun when the kids work together in teams. Set a time limit for the search, and decide on a simple prize for the winning team. If you don’t have a prize handy, though, that’s OK. They’ll still enjoy having bragging rights!

Organize an Olympic Event

For this activity, you can plan a series of simple yet fun athletic events for the kids to participate in. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas. You can do a pine cone toss where each athlete gets three tries to toss pine cones into a bucket, a long jump to see who can leap the furthest, a relay race for a team competition or a classic potato sack race. Another fun idea is to have a noodle hockey tournament if your campground has a large, flat open space. The game is played with pool noodles, a wiffle ball and goalies armed with brooms.

CloudsSee What They Can See in the Clouds

This one is probably the simplest activity of all, but it’s fun for the kids and great for their imaginations. Just spread a blanket on the ground on a day when there are a lot of white, fluffy clouds, and ask the kids to lie down, look up at the sky and decide what the different clouds are shaped like. You’ll likely get some surprising answers – and plenty of giggles!

Play Glow in the Dark Games

Fun and games don’t have to be limited to the daytime. Bring along a bunch of glow sticks and organize one or both of these activities: Drive a stick into the ground and form glow sticks into circles to create a ring toss game. Or, put a glow stick into each of 10 water bottles and use them as bowling pins with a soccer ball or basketball serving as the bowling ball.

Make the Trip Speed By

The fun can start long before you even get to the campground. Playing some “old school” car games as you drive to the campground can be a refreshing change from electronics.  Two classic examples are backseat bingo where the kids look for different items on their bingo card like a traffic light, a barn or an airplane, and license plate bingo where they have to look for license plates from specific states. You can download printable bingo cards for free online.