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Thread: Kids Camping Games

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Kids Camping Games

    If you like camping, and you have children, you better make camping really, really fun for them. I started camping with my kids with this goal in mind. They were about 2, 4, and 6. I have worked hard to make it mostly about them (all about them at first). Having fresh new games and experiences for them is important. The more tricks you have up your sleeve, the longer they last. Cycle them, so you don't wear them out (the games that is). As the kids grow, the games must grow or change.

    I wish to encourage parents to take their kids out to the world and enjoy camping. This thread is to share games and entertainment ideas for kids while camping. No DVD's or Nintendo DS's here please. Let’s think of more natural, simple and creative games, or those utilizing equipment we are likely to have with us.

    Please share your games. I will try to copy them into this first thread.

    Yes, I admit this doesn't really qualify as “natural or simple”, but I can’t set one up unless we’re in the woods, so it’s still a “camping” game for us.

    --Zip Lines and Swings: I use some of my recovery gear, steel cable and climbing gear to set up swings and a zip line. Details and video on thread “Fun with Recovery Gear” in this family section.

    --Tow Strap Tight Rope: I know there's a real name for this…tell me please. You make taunt a 2" tow strap between an anchor point and your rig. Now you have a tight rope!

    I'm sure there's a whole book about this on the web somewhere, but it's not to say some simple thoughts here won't serve a purpose. Here's what I came up with.

    --Treasure Hunt: Start at the treasure location (1) where you place some simple candy or whatever for the kids. Hide it in a bush, behind a tree, in a tree, rocks, tent, tires, whatever. Find the next location (2) and count kid paces to it. find the bearing from north from (2) to (1). Write it on the paper, with a number of paces. Hide the paper there. Do this to as many more locations you want. Finally hand the last note to the kids and tell them where to stand. You can include other bearings on the compass...from south, east, and west. Or directions to simply go a direction (go southwest for 26 paces). This brings math and other analytical work into the game. My kids loved it.

    --Treasure of Fire: This is a "pay it forwood" game. This means in our primitive camping locations we leave behind a stack of wood for the next person. Here's the kids game. They hide the left over wood out from the campsite a bit. You then make a treasure hunt like that above, but with simply one bearing from a nearby landmark. There is only one note to leave. My kids make a "map" of the camp and put an X at the landmark to take the bearing from. They wrinkle the map and have me burn the corners for authenticity. The map is placed in a zip lock and tucked between a few logs by the fire ring. The fun of this is making it. It works and entertains.

    Creek Games

    --Boats: The kids build boats from what they find. I have string, duct tape and my knife. Only those trained with knifes can use the knife. I end up doing most the "carving". They then have boat races down the creek. They also may throw rocks and try to sink the boats. Someone is the boat catcher at the end of the race. It is fun.

    --Bridges: The kids make a bridge of rock, branches, etc to cross the creek. This game is all about creativity. No trashing the creek to do it. It is dismantled and disbursed upon leaving. This teaches lots of clean up your mess!

    --I've got more here to share but I'll have to revisit this thread.

    FIRE Games
    Yes, kids need to learn to respect fire. Games that let them toy with danger under supervision is a great way to prepare them for danger when they have no supervision.

    --Smoke sticks: Long sticks, like you would roast marshmallows or dogs on. They burn an end until it catches fire. They put the fire on the stick out by rolling it or sticking it between stones in the ring. They wave it in the air as a "smoke" stick and it makes strings of smoke. Who wouldn't have fun doing that by a fire. They cannot be close to each other. It is highly monitored.

    --One match fire (you get more than one try) The children learn how to find natural fire starting tender, and various sizes up. They learn to prepare and build a small fire. This is a progressive game, experiencing a little each time. They try to use one match to get it started. If it goes out, they get another match, but if it's burning anywhere, you don't get more.

    --???? Who else out there is as awful a parent as I to let the children play where they might get burned?

    Tent Games
    Sometimes the rain pushes you inside the tent, but you’re not ready for bed.

    --Waterproof UNO cards: There's a thread in this forum about this but I can't seem to link to it

    --???? Uh... Jumping around screaming and driving me nuts? Does that count? Ideas please.

    Lake Games

    --Skipping Stones! Duh!


    A little help here please?

    Night Games

    --Glow sticks. Awesome. I bought battery powered ones so we aren't so wasteful. Cheaper in the long run too. The kids love taking turns going out into the dark away from the fire and swinging them around. They put on "light shows" for those of us at the camp.

    --Full moon, dark hikes. Nothing more awesome than taking a hike through the woods near camp lit only by the full moon. Not really a "game" but a really good experience. It can also be a little creepy...nice!

    I’ve run out of time for the start of this thread. I’ll add to it later with more ideas…hopefully ones that come from you.
    1999 Land Cruiser ::::: ARB front - Warn M8000 - 3rd cup mod - Rear no-bumper? - 295/75/16 BFG AT - Cobra CB - OME lift w/ 863 rear coils - lots still to do!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    CDA, Id
    Dutch Blitz is a card game my kids really like and is kept with our camping gear.

    Another outside thing to do is identify plants, animals tracks, etc on hikes.

    Nighttime activity is star gazing and finding the constellations. Its amazing how many kids don't see the night sky anymore without light pollution.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Orange County, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by shortbus4x4 View Post
    Another outside thing to do is identify plants, animals tracks, etc on hikes.
    Or collect what they think are small piles of berries!

    One thing I take are kites for those nice windy days, and you can't fish enough.
    Also we spend our Easter's in Moab and do our egg hunts out on the trail during a lunch break.
    Last edited by JKOperator; 05-06-2012 at 01:42 AM.
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." - Wyatt Earp

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Chattanooga, Tn.
    Enjoyed this thread but don't have anything to add at the moment. We have a 3 kids: 6, 4, 1 and are heading out for two months on the road this summer. Hopefully will have lots to contribute upon returning.

    A tightrope made of webbing is called a slack-line. I'll set one up from time to time but I didn't even think to get my kids on it until you mentioned it above.Thanks for the ideas!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    CDA, Id
    Yep I have played that game with my kids, its called what animal took a crap in the woods and what was the last thing they ate. I have also told my wife that if the woods is good enough for a bear then its good enough for her, so far it has only led to me getting a punch on the arm.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Prescott Valley, AZ
    Mine love to be allowed to just explore. We usually tell them to keep the vehicle in sight and make sure they can hear us if we yell. They have a blast.

    Another tent game is I spy, and we usually take a board game or 2.

    Fire is good, I did 1 match fires and flint fires with my kids and their friends at our last trip.
    If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!

    Brian Letendre, KE6IRJ
    Our Family Blog

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Norway, Europe
    At daytime you hang up a bunch of, what is the English word for those reflective phases that shines from from the light of your headlights?? In the woods, marking out a trail. If you have more than 1 color, you can make more than 1 trail in close proximity. You can raise difficult level by setting them on hilltops, or easy as every 50m...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    We just let them explore the area around the camp. We camp with other famines most times and the kids all just amuse themselves. They bud forts or elaborate "mouse traps" out of branches and twigs

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
    fantastic thread. worthy of a sticky! More ideas please! My kids are just getting old enough to start camping.
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    HAM Tecnician call sign: KM4BOR
    Chronically suffering from wanderlust...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    The Desert of Arizona
    Here are a couple other ideas-

    If you are near a creek/lake let the kids catch crawdads and then have a crawdad boil at dinner.

    My son is 12 and has cousins around the same age. They all do the one match or flint fires as well as carve their own weapons. They have made knives and even bow and arrows from wood found around the camp site and whittle/knife work was under supervision. The only injury was my brother in law slicing his hand open which then lead to the kids seeing wilderness first aid.

    BB guns/slingshots - we setup a shooting gallery with soda cans, cardboard boxes, etc. and each target has a point value depending on size of target and distance. Using rocks available around camp the kids and even the big kids take turns by calling their shots. Highest points wins.

    Axe/knife throwing- find a beetle ridden tree and let them throw hatchets and knifes to see if they can get it to stick.

    I have let my son drive short distances as well in low gear. This is a huge hit and guaranteed smiles for days.

    Just let them explore- they have to be in a group- be responsible for each other- and be within view or ear shot range. If you have two way radios you can also clip one to one of the kids and check in with them every few minutes.

    Let them help cook- whether it is just hot dogs over the fire or assisting in chopping and cooking of a full meal. The kids always enjoy being a part of this.

    Pine cone/rock baseball. Find a good size stick to use as a bat and then smack pine cones or rocks as a full game or just for distance.

    We still take some toy cars along as well- kids always have fun building roads/trails for their cars and act out their own overland adventures.

    Paper and pencils- let the kids spend time drawing or playing their own games. Paper airplanes can also be a good time consuming game.

    Night games- the kids each get a chance to sneak up on the rest of the campers. They wander off a short ways into the darkness and then try their best to sneak back up to camp without being seen or heard by everyone else.

    Glow sticks and long exposure photography- kids pose in different actions and then are traced with light sticks so they are outlined in the photo. Good fun and funny pictures.
    Aaron Newman

    The journey of life as as much in ones self as the roads one travels.

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