Entertaining Children During A Camping Adventure
The last thing you want after carefully planning a lovely, restful family camping trip is for the kids to complain that they’re bored. Find lots of tips here..
They’ll be used to being connected online, so lack of WiFi and unreliable service may be a shock to the system at first.
But kids adapt quickly and will soon be playing in the natural world around them.
That said, it’s always worth having a few ideas up your sleeve for when they need inspiration. Whether you’re camping with a big group of kids, or only a few, entertaining the children means they can have fun, and you can relax! You can also check out other ideas in the National Unplug Day article.
Always pack paper, coloured pens and pencils for when children fancy some down-time. Sometimes they’ll need a break from all the running around so these are essentials. My mum used to buy us all a new sketchbook before we went camping, which always inspired us to draw when it rained or when we were just hanging around in the tent.
For something more structured, you could challenge your kids to make a painting using only natural pigments or make collages out of dried leaves and other natural objects. Remember glue for this activity.
Kids could also do some rock painting if there are stones near the campsite. Or, if you’re camping by the coast, they could make slate or rock scratchings or sand-art.
Games to play
If you’re camping with a larger group of kids, then big games are the perfect way for parents to get a break, as well as give the kids a lot of exercise.
Kids can play some of the classic playground games like sticky toffee, or forty-forty home (a quick google will remind everyone of the rules).
If you bring a frisbee, or a set of badminton bats and a shuttlecock then kids will play for hours, they also pack up pretty small which is always a bonus.
Organising a group football game will also keep the sporty ones occupied, but my all-time favourite is rounders – again this is one that everyone can enjoy.
Another idea is volleyball – a campsite is the perfect place to put up a net and develop your skills.
Once the kids get too tired to play any more, they can also play sitting down games like charades or mafia. Mafia is one of my favourites: you choose someone to be ‘God’ who orchestrates the game- they secretly choose two or three people to be the mafia, one detective, and one doctor, while everyone else keeps their eyes closed. It sounds complicated, but is really good fun, especially when the person organising the game makes up bizarre deaths for each person picked.
After dark, there are still lots of games for kids to play. They could play tag in the dark, which is just like normal ‘it’, except people get caught when a flashlight is shone at them. This should probably be played with older kids so no-one gets lost/scared. Some campsites don’t allow children to roam the campsite after dark, so to respect other campers. So, check if the campsite is happy for children to roam alone in the dark.
For more ideas on games to play, and things to do at night, check out The magic of camping after dark.
In the case of rainy or windy weather
Card games and board games always come in handy if the weather takes a turn for the worse. If you’re camping with older kids, or lots of children, then you could put up a big tent with a large porch that they can all play in. Every family has their own favourite card games, but I’d recommend spoons or 7-up 7-down as good card games that even the smallest children can get involved in.
You want to bring games with pieces that won’t get easily lost, so look out for magnetic travel sets of your favourite board games. Connect 4 is surprisingly good fun, as it takes a bit of skill once people get good enough. Mankala is another great purchase; young kids can play it as the premise is simple enough, but adults also find it fun because you can be strategic and need to think a few moves ahead to win. For more ways to stay entertained in bad weather check out our blog Games and movies in the tent.
Entertaining kids in the natural world
Why don’t you try a scavenger hunt to keep kids occupied for an hour or two. You can find them online, or make one up yourself, I would recommend starting with things that will be easy to find, then getting more difficult.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find clay near your camping spot. Kids can make pots, or sculptures then leave them out in the sun to dry. They could also make faces on tree trunks out of clay. If there’s lots of space in the car then you could even bring some of your own clay on the trip.
Check out more ideas with Wild Forest Schooling at heart.
Another way to keep children entertained is by making fires with them. Challenge kids to collect tinder and kindling and see if they can light it using a flint and steel. You could make it a competition to see who can get a proper fire going the fastest.
If making fires with younger kids, teach them how to set up fires safely- on bare ground at least 4 meters from any tents or bushes with a circle of rocks to surround the fire.
One of my favourite activities as a kid was whittling, especially making bows and arrows.
Kids can make patterns in the bark, swords, slingshots- or even spoons once they get good enough! If you buy arrows (as these are pretty hard to make properly) then kids can whittle and string their own bows.
To make longbows they should be around your child’s height, and the best wood to pick is yew, ash or holly. Do not cut any trees or branches in the campsite though.
Children can also make dens using wood found on the forest floor, this is a great activity as kids will have fun making the den and then playing in it. For some den-making techniques have a look at Bivouac and den building.
At the end of the day, organising games around the campfire will stop kids from escaping to sit on phones or tablets.
You could play ‘would you rather’, chinese whispers or guess the song.
Empire is one of my favourites, as it gets so hard when you have a big group of people. Check google for the rules.
Food-related activities also always go down a treat, so why not indulge the kids and play ‘chubby bunny’. For this game you have to put a marshmallow in your mouth and try to say chubby bunny until your mouth is too full!
Hopefully this blog has given you a few ideas so that you can keep the kids occupied and have a moment to relax on your camping trip.
Here’s me signing out and thank you so much for reading.