Top 10 Things to Do with Kids While Camping

If you are anything like myself, just getting out into nature is its own best reward and great activity. I never even think of things to do while camping. I just do! The first time I went camping with my wife I knew I had met my perfect partner. My wife and I love just looking up at the stars in the sky and listening to the sound of the forest at night to be entertained. Snuggling close to each other and whispering sweet nothings into each other’s ears.

And then we had a daughter. Some of our first camping trips as a family were still great. I had fun. My wife had fun. The cat had fun. The dog and my daughter not so much. While our dog has grown to love trips out in the woods, especially if there’s lots of walking, my daughter still needs to be entertained.

Whether you have one kid or more, they all usually have to be entertained. One of the reasons we go camping is to get away from it all so we try to limit the use of electronics and get back to more wholesome, natural types of entertainment. And so I present to you some of the Fox family’s favorite types of entertainment while camping. (In no particular order)


1. Go for long hikes in the woods

Long hike with kids

Our daughter has more energy than both of us put together so we find that this is a great way to see nature, get some exercise, and hopefully, tire her out. The last time we went camping was with another family who also had another little girl so this was a great chance for them to get out and learn about nature. There were also signs around about the local flora and fauna so it was an opportunity to practice their reading skills.

We took the longest, windiest trail that ran through streams and around a big lake. They had a chance to see nature and we could teach them things about the animals and plants they saw along the way. The mommies liked it because they got time to themselves while we got a little daddy-daughter time.

2. Sing campfire songs

Play the Ukulele

What camping trip is complete without the singing of a few songs around the campfire. If you want some ideas on what to sing, here is a great site where you can not only find songs but you can find the chords as well. This leads to my next great idea.

3. Play a ukulele, guitar or some other instrument

Personally I love the ukulele. It’s small and easy to learn a few basic chords in order to get you started. If everybody is singing it really won’t matter that your chords and strumming aren’t perfect. Some of my favorite camp classics are Camp Granada, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and the Unicorn Song.

The Unicorn Song on Ukulele

4. Study the stars

You might have to do your homework about the time of year and the sky where you live but this can be a great chance for you to learn a bit as well as teach your children. I found a great site with printable maps and it even tells you a little about each of the constellations. The name and the background of the mythology behind it. Keep in mind, the link I have is for summer skies in the US but you might be able to find other times of year on there.

5. Tell ghost stories

A lot of the most fun activities to me happen around the campfire at night. In fact, that is probably my most favorite activity location. I love building the campfire and of course this site is name Fox by the Campfire. SO many magical experiences happen there and this is one of them. Telling ghost stories is a great evening activity that can lead to bedtime for the little ones. Just be careful that they aren’t too scary or you might not be able to get them to sleep. Here are a few of my favorite scary stories for young kids right on our site.

6. Roast Marshmallows

roast marshmallows

My young daughter hated sitting out by the fire in our backyard until I brought out the marshmallows. Now she keeps asking me even in the dead of winter if we can go outside and roast marshmallows. Kids love it and it can be just the beginning of a night full of different activities all around that magical campfire.

7. Read aloud to each other

This is an activity that you should plan out before you leave. Bring some easy books for your child to read and maybe a few new ones that you picked out just for that trip. You can take turns reading or each person can read a separate short story to the group.

8. Card games

There are so many card games that kids love to play. Those that are easy to learn but fun to play are the best. The nice thing is that, unlike board games, they are compact and easy to pack. My daughter loves Crazy 8, Uno, Phase 10, and the last time we were out I remember her playing something with her friend called Snappy Dressers that could be adapted to all kinds of different games in one.

9. Board games

Board games and camping

Of course, if you are going to be in a cabin or have a nice tent, then this is something that can make the night or those lazy summer days fun. Again, games that are easy to learn but fun to play and not too simple work best. On our last trip, my friend brought Pretty Princess and it was hilarious seeing him wearing all the pretty princess jewelry. Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders are also favorites.

10. Make up stories to tell each other

This is a great way to get your kids to explore their creative side. There are also some games that can help as a prompt to tell stories. You can also invest in some story dice that can be used to create a zany story out of thin air. There is another method that I used to use when I was teaching English overseas. Everyone sits in a circle. You begin a story with a phrase like, “I was walking in the woods at night when suddenly I heard a scream…” then you go around the circle in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction and each person adds a sentence to the story.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

If you prepare a bit for some of these it can take a lot of the pain out of camping with children and can make your days and nights a whole lot sweeter. Not only will you keep your kids entertained but you can have fun as well. My wife just mentioned getting books from the library or Audible books are great for the trip to the campsite.

Good luck on your next adventure in camping and leave a comment below to let me know how it went. Feel free to share what your favorite camping activities are.

~ Jim

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to Do with Kids While Camping”

  1. My mom used to find campsites that had lots of planned activities for us kids like horseback riding, fishing, nature crafts, etc. It was not all day, it was just a hour or two. She said it helped change up the routine and it gave her time for rest, relaxation, or even cooking a meal! 

    I like your suggestions and will be using most of them! We are about to take my son camping for the first time and this list is extremely helpful! My son just turned 3!


    • I remember when our daughter was 3! She did not enjoy our first couple camping trips. I hope that this list will help to encourage a love of nature and outdoor activities for your son. Marshmallows and the star charts are something that kids seem to take to really well.

      Thanks so much for the kind words and have a great camping trip!


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