Camping is the perfect holiday for an active family. It provides time away from busy work routines and hectic schedules, and allows a family to become more in tune with their environment as well as each other.
You can bond over putting the tent up, sitting around the campfire or exploring nature. There are many cool camping ideas you can try to keep you and your family busy throughout your camping holiday.
Though it might not be as busy or luxurious as a city holiday in a fancy hotel, you get to choose your own campsite at little to no cost, and there are plenty of opportunities for long walks, fresh air and spending time with your partner and children.
This article will list some of the fun camping ideas that your family can participate in on your next camping trip.
Cool Camping Ideas for Families with Children
Children can sometimes be difficult to please. They’re so glued to their electronic devices that they don’t know what to do with them.
But coming up with activities to do is more fun than you think. Some of these activities are geared towards younger children, while you can make the same tasks more challenging for older kids.
- Nature Hunt: a nature hunt can provide children with the opportunity to engage with nature directly and give them a chance to find treasures to take home from their natural environment. A list can be provided for older children with items that can be commonly found in the outdoors. This could include rocks, leaves, feathers, shells or flowers. Younger children can have a more unstructured hunt and find anything that captures their interest.
You can bring a bag to store all the nature treasures that they find in and you can explain to them the names of the different types of flowers and the types of trees the leaves came from.
- Pet Rocks: if they find any rocks along the path while hiking, they can take them home and paint them with any designs they like. They can even paint them to look like any of the animals they’ve seen while camping.
- Leaf Engravings: leaves can be placed under a piece of paper and coloured over with a crayon to capture the unique pattern and shape of each leaf. See how many different kinds your children can find. You can even teach them how photosynthesis works in leaves.
- Feather Birds: feathers can be stuck together to form the shape of birds and the children can flutter them around and play games with them.
- Shell Sea Creature Magnets: if your camping adventure takes you to the beach, there are bound to be plenty of shells along the shore. They can take these shells home and can be made into cute sea creature magnets to hang on your fridge. They can be made into turtles, crabs, fish or anything else that captures your child’s fancy.
- Flower Crowns and Bracelets: flowers can be woven into jewelry or crowns for your children to wear while exploring their surroundings.
- Tic-Tac-Toe: an impromptu Tic-Tac-Toe board can be made out of an old stump or in a patch of earth and some gathered rocks and seeds. You can assign naughts to one object and crosses to another and then the basic rules of Tic-Tac-Toe are followed, with the individual who achieves a row of their pieces in any direction being the winner.
- String Up a Hammock: you can hang a hammock up between two trees and use it as a place for relaxation and fun. Children love to climb up in a hammock and making it sway back and forth above the ground. It can be a great place for a quiet cuddle with tired young children or to enjoy the shade the tree provides on a hot day. If you are feeling particularly adventurous on a night with good weather you could spend the night out in your hammock, swaying gently in the night breeze.
- A Portable Activity Baby Station: a portable activity baby station provides a safe place for your baby to play while you are busy around the campsite. It can be folded away for easy storage and can easily be transported in your car to your chosen camping area.
A floor pad provides for a soft, safe place for your child’s feet and a locking button ensures that it doesn’t collapse or fall with your baby in it. It also provides space for your child’s favourite toys to be clipped on securely and room for their drink bottle and snacks. A table area provides a good surface area for your baby to busy themselves with any kinds of crafts, and you can rest easy knowing that they’re safe.
- Bubbles: every child loves bubbles and there is something magical about bubbles being blown along in the breeze. A bubble station can be set up on a camp table, with a variety of different bubble wands and the bubble mixture placed in a drink dispenser. Then all the kids need to do is press a button to release bubble mixture into a plastic cup and they have everything they need to blow as many bubbles as they wish. You don’t need to buy bubble wands from the store either. You can make your own out of the following:
- Straws: stick a bundle of straws together into the solution and blow to create a cloud of tiny bubbles.
- A couple of sticks and some string: you can tie some string together between two sticks and dip them into the bubble mixture. Simply swish them around and you can create some very large bubbles.
- Plastic Bottles: a plastic bottle can be cut in half and after dipping the cut-off end in the bubble mixture, you can blow through the drinking end to create a steady stream of bubbles.
- Cooking Gear: put the camp cooking gear to a new use by using them to create magnificent bubbles. This could include a whisk, a cheese grater, a sieve or a pancake flipper. Each one of these tools will create unique bubbles which are sure to entertain the children.
A fun way to add even more excitement to bubble blowing is to add some food coloring to the bubble solution and make rainbow colored bubbles. A strip of paper can be placed down in the middle of the camp and multi-coloured bubble mixture provided to create a bubble work of art.
- Singing Songs Around the Campfire: sitting together around a campfire at night is the highlight of every camping trip. When the sun goes down it provides much needed comfort, warmth and a time of rest to engage in quiet activities. This could include an old-fashioned sing-along with each family member choosing an old favourite they want to sing. Some songs to consider are:
- A Bicycle Built for Two
- Do Your Ears Hang Low
- Five Green and Speckled Frogs
- He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
- My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
- Oh Susanna
- It’s a Long Way to Tipperary
- I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
- She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain
Camping Ideas for Older Children and Friends
These activities can be fun to do while the younger ones are asleep, allowing you to have more quiet time with the older members of your group.
Older children and teenagers will have fun with these, and you can even challenge your older friends and family members to these as well.
- Go Fishing: although fishing can be enjoyed my individuals of many ages, you may want to fish with the younger children away from the older kids and grownups, especially if there are some in the group who are very avid fishers. Fishing teaches children patience and coordination as they learn to bait their own hook and throw the line out in the water.
Exercise care and offer to bait their hooks for them so that they don’t get the barbs stuck in their fingers. They are always very excited about the thought of catching a fish and are always checking the line to see if a fish is nibbling at the line. It provides a good opportunity to sit and talk with your children while waiting for a bite and any fishes caught can be cooked over a campfire and provide a feast.
- Stargazing: in the city it is almost impossible to see the stars due to the bright lights that make their shine appear dull. Lying on your backs and looking up at the sky in perfect darkness shows you just how spectacular the stars in the sky actually are. You can point out all the main constellations to your children. If you’d like, you can make it even more of a challenge by seeing who can find certain constellations first. Some popular constellations to look at are:
- Orion: Orion was a hunter in Greek mythology. Three stars make Orion’s belt with other stars giving the vague shape of his body and legs.
- The Big Dipper: The Big Dipper is in the shape of a huge bear. This bear in Greek mythology was Callisto, a nymph transformed into the shape of a bear by the jealous goddess, Hera. It was used by sailors to help navigate through its ability to show the direction of the north star.
- The Southern Cross: If you live in Australia or in the Southern hemisphere the Southern Cross is a familiar constellation.
It appears in the shape of a cross and it shows the direction of the South pole.
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot a shooting star or two.
- Charades: charades involves using a series of gestures to demonstrate a movie title, book or popular saying without talking. The team mates of the player then have to guess what they are trying to tell them. A simpler form of charades for younger children could be moving around like an animal and then getting them to guess what animal you are. Charades can be a fun game to play during a quiet time during the day or around the campfire at night. For older members of the camping team, you can set a time limit to make the game even more challenging.
- Bird-Watching: watching birds can be an interesting activity. Not only are some birds brightly coloured, many of them also sing quite beautifully. If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to spot their activities as they go about their day, which can be fascinating to watch. By being quiet and still, children will be able to observe birds in their natural habitat. They can watch them find food, seek a mate and make nests. The different types of varieties and birds can be discussed and the features that make them unique.
If you have a pair of binoculars with you it will allow children to get a close view of the birds without scaring them away. The best thing about bird-watching is that there are so many different types of birds that a lot of the day can be spent seeking out and watching them and the next day new birds can be found to observe and talk about.
- Animal Watching: when you get tired of looking at birds there will be plenty of other animals to find and to look at. Lizards can often be found sunbathing on a path or rabbits seen jumping through a patch of grass. Your children can be encouraged to look for animals on a hike to keep them entertained for the length of the trip. Be on the lookout for any snakes, however. They might be venomous, and you don’t want your children to get too close.
Camping Ideas for After Dark
When the sun goes down, there might not be much to do except settling down in your tent and going to bed. What you might not know is that many of your favorite games can be adapted to be played at night time.
By making objects glow in the dark with the use of glow sticks, games are made much easier to play as they provide better visibility and preventing the loss of game pieces. You can:
- Have a Glow in the Dark Water Balloon Fight: preparing the balloons for the water fight can be a family event, with everyone carefully placing the glow stick in a water balloon and then adding water over the top of them. This would be best played at sunset or dusk when you can still see each other for better aim.
- Glow in the Dark Rings for Ring Toss: glow sticks can be bent into circles and then attached by rubber band or a hair tie until they form hoops or rings. These can be thrown at nearby branches of trees which can also be marked with a glow stick or sticks hammered into the ground.
- Neon Tape Hopscotch: neon tape can be stuck on the ground to make your own hopscotch game and a glow stick thrown to find the number to avoid jumping on.
- Glow in the Dark Bowling Pins: used water containers can be recycled and used to place glow sticks in to provide pins for a glow in the dark bowling game. Water can be added to make them steadier and harder to knock over.
For more tips on activities when hiking with kids, see our previous article on this topic.
Ideas for Decorating your Campsite
Great decorations for your campsite can be created from recycled rubbish that have been used by you or other campers. They will make your camping grounds a unique and fun place to stay and can be brought back with you to decorate your backyard and porch.
You could make:
- A Tin Can Mobile: a tin can mobile can be created by painting used cans and making holes in the top so you can attach them to string. These can be attached to two sticks which you should be able to find in the area around your camp. This not only adds a lot of colour to your campsite but makes a great noise as the cans clank together in the wind.
- Tin Can Lanterns: tin cans can also be made into lanterns, with a candle or LED light to put inside.
All you need is a nail, a hammer and an idea of a pattern.
Using the hammer to create holes in the tin can in the desired pattern allows the light to shine through and adds a festive feel to your campsite at night time.
Have Fun Camping!
I hope these cool camping ideas have provided you with some fun thoughts about what to do on your next camping trip.
I am sure these fun camping ideas will provide so much entertainment you won’t be able to wait until your next camping trip. For tips on how to choose the best family tents for camping, see our article on this topic.