Camping Activities Help Create Great Memories!
Camping with your family provides a wide array of possibilities for enjoyment. From the basic camping activities that include swimming and hiking to more inventive activities such as story telling and cloud watching, there are camping activities for all ages. Since camping is a great way to relax your mind and ease out of the demands of your daily life, camping activities should be a combination of structured and spontaneous, not another something you need to do.
Each member of your family should come up with some camping activities they would like to do while camping. These ideas need to have some preparation when you pack so bikes, radios, backpacks, books, games, swimsuits. etc. are included. These structured camping activities should only consume part of your trip.
Staying busy does not have to mean filling up every hour with structured camping activities. Camping needs to include downtime for everyone and that, in and of itself, creates spontaneity. Have some thought put into this type of time so when the time is right your family can enjoy camping activities they have not thought of or done before. This is what creates memories.
Structured Camping Activities May Include:
Swimming – No matter where you are camping you are bound to have a lake, a brook, or pool close to you. Swimming is great exercise and lot of fun for all ages. Send your kids off to swim their lungs out in these and explore the bounties of nature for themselves. If you are camping in a commercial campsite you might even be lucky enough to find a pool for your kids to go swimming in. But whether it is a natural or a man-made lake, as long as it is all right for your children to swim in them you know that they’ll stay occupied.
Biking – Camping is all about discovering nature and engaging in physical camping activities, and what better way of combining both than going out biking? When cycling around with your children make sure you have a map and a first aid box close at hand, so that you don’t continue to worry about getting lost or ending up hurt and can instead concentrate fully on the breathtaking view alone.
Hiking – You do not need to be a serious hiker to enjoy walking through nature’s beautiful display, wherever you are camping. Bring a map of the area and take your family on a hiking trip they will remember.
Build a campfire – Camping is not camping without a campfire. Although fire can be a danger, with attention to the fire and supervision of the kids the entire family can sit around the campfire and be memorized by the flames. Allow your kids to find twigs (on the ground, never cut them off a tree) and throw them into the fire. Once you build the campfire enjoy its warmth, roast marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoy how the dancing flames bring your family together.
Crafts – Bring items from home or have the kids find what they need to create crafts from nature. Gather twigs to build a castle or a fort, find rocks to paint to create rock pets, or bring glue and scissors and let your kids create what they can imagine.
Toys and balls – Bring items that will keep the family entertained in case of inclement weather and ones that will be enjoyed outside. A baseball and gloves, football, or frisbie can be tossed for hours between members of your family. Bring age appropriate toys that can take on a new dimension at the campsite such as a small truck. There will be hours of enjoyment and imagination as your kids (big and small, and Dad) transform dirt into a construction site or trails.
Dice – These five small, square, and numbered cubes can turn rainy days into many fun camping activities inside. Don’t loose track of how these cubes can also be used outside on the picnic table or choosing who does what to play a game, clean up in the evenings, or pack up to go home.
Fishing – Kids under the age of 12 usually do not need a license (ensure you and everyone fishing have the correct license for the State you are camping in). This is a great activity if you are near a river, lake or pond. Bring the poles and teach your children how to fish. There can be contests with prizes for the first fish caught, the smallest fish, the most fish caught, and of course, the biggest fish.
Horseback riding – an activity that might be a fun and exciting option while visiting a national park. Several parks offer gravel roads for horseback riding, certain parks also have horse rentals and guided excursions available. A list of stables and outfitters can be obtained at visitor centers, or checked through travel guides and brochures.
Whitewater rafting – This is one of camping activities that is the most unique and invigorating ways to visit a parks backcountry. Some of the most incredible National Parks may have river rafting excursions that travel through the park, the river rafting is usually offered by various companies and outfitters. If whitewater rafting sounds a bit too dangerous, perhaps a kayaking excursion through one of the splendid rivers would seem wiser. Imagine kayaking through one of the popular National Parks past geysers, hot spring and mud pots. Kayaking is a wonderful way to explore areas that are untouched by vehicle or foot traffic.
Bird and Animal Watching – Nothing brings you closer to nature and the great outdoor as camping does. The rare wildlife and the natural environment will surely be a break from your kids rural recreation of malling and video games. Other than offering a chance for an entirely different experience, bird and animal watching is a very colorful activity and can also be very educational and could develop in your child the love for the great outdoors.
Making skits a hit – Kids love to be in the limelight, so camping skits give them the opportunity to do their best Shakespearean impersonation around the campfire. You can find several camp skit scripts on the Internet. Make sure that you rehearse the skits with your kids. One child can even serve as a narrator, to make the skit more dramatic. When your kids perform the skit for you, make sure that each of them is ready for his or her part. Also, the older kids can help the younger kids, and particularly with lines.
Making an impression – Drawing and coloring make excellent activities for kids, and this activity allows them to nurture their artistic skills. Along with your Clear Vinyl Badge Clips, make sure to pack some blank sheets of paper; and colored pencils or a pack of crayons. At the campground, have your child collect objects with textures, such as leaves, tree bark, and stones. The kids should gently rub the pencil or crayon over the image, allowing an image to magically appear on the paper. Put a label on each picture, to remember what it is, who made it, and where he or she made it.
Ladder Golf – Ladder golf is a game that is played by 2 – 4 players or 2 teams of 2 players. The object of the game is to toss the bolas (the 2 golf balls tied together by rope) onto the rungs, or steps, of the ladder. Ladder golf is great for camping trips because it’s easy to play, easy to set up, easy to transport and can be played by anyone on virtually any surface.
The game is played by having two teams, each have their own set of colored bolas, and they each take turns tossing the bolas at the ladder. Each bola that stays on the ladder receives a point. Tossing a bola on the top rung is 3 points, the middle rung is 2 points and the bottom rung is worth 1 point. The two ladders are normally 15 feet, or 5 paces, apart. Each player/team will alternate tossing the bolas until one team reaches exactly 21 points at the end of his/her turn.
Bean Bag Toss/Cornhole – Bean bag toss (or commonly referred to as Cornhole in the Southern U.S.) is a childhood favorite of mine. This game is similar to Ladder Golf in that it’s played by 2 – 4 players. This great camping game is extremely easy to play by men, women and children of any age.
Essentially, all you do is take turns tossing your bean bag (corn bag) onto the platform and the team that reaches 21 points first wins. One point is scored when a player tosses his/her bag onto the platform and it stays there. Three points are scored when a player gets the bag into the hole within the platform. Each platform is roughly 30 feet apart and teammates stand by opposite platforms tossing bags back and forth.
Croquet – Croquet is not a traditional camping game but can be even more exciting when played at campgrounds as compared to a grass court. Croquet is not only a lawn game but also a competitive sport. This game can be played with 2 – 4 players in which each player tries to hit plastic or wooden balls with a mallet through a series of metal loops that are stuck into the earth.
Why is playing croquet at a campground more exciting? Well, normally you play this game on a grassy field without obstacles. Think of the exciting challenges that await you and your family/friends if you have to play around trees!
Bocce Ball – this is another game that is not only played for leisure but also professionally. The bocce ball, like croquet, is very exciting and challenging when playing at a campground.
The game is played by 2 – 8 players. The goal of the game is to throw/toss a bocce (a wooden or plastic ball) at a pallino (a smaller ball). The person/team to get their bocce closest to the pallino scores a point. The team that scores the point gets to toss the pallino in a new location. Now just repeat. The first team to 13 wins the game.
Wildlife Identification – This fun camping activity is great for any family. This isn’t really a game but more of an educational adventure to explore and discover the natural beauty in the great outdoors. This gets you and your family out of your campsite and exploring the surrounding area.
The goal of this little adventure to get out and see how many different types of wildlife you can identify. You can search for mammals, insects, plants, flowers, tress, birds, etc. Wildlife identification can be extremely rewarding not only because you get to see some incredible wildlife, but you’re also learning about the great outdoors.
You will need to purchase some sort of wildlife ID kit or booklet in order to fully enjoy this activity. I’d recommend purchasing a book from a local bookstore so it will contain wildlife that is relevant to your area. You can also order kits online by doing a simple Internet search.
Geocaching – This is an exciting outdoor treasure hunt that uses GPS technology to locate and find hidden containers (caches) that were hidden by some other geocacher. The basis of this activity is to go online and find and download latitude and longitude coordinates which will get to very close to the cache. Once you’re close, it’s up to you to find the hidden container. After you find it, you sign the log book, leave a little trinket for the next geocacher and then replace the cache exactly how you found it. Once you return home, you go back online and write a brief log about your adventure for the rest of the world to read.
Learn a little – Do a little research on the area you will be camping before you leave. Without it coming off as a ‘lesson’ or ‘school’ find the historical sites or talk about what the Explorers of the past went through as they paved their way across the area.
Creative Spontaneous Camping Activities
Take a late night walk – The best time of the day is the night. Kids are usually in bed so make a late night walk a special activity for the family. Check out the stars, listen to the silence, smell the fresh country air. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Scavenger hunt – Provide a list of items such as plants, leaves, or animal tracks that you might see to each family member. Go on a nature hike and have everyone check off everything they see. A planned scavenger can be done, also. Bring items from home and place them around the campsite. Provide a few riddles and clues and see how many they can find. Be cautious of plants such as poison ivy, oak, sumac etc.
Storytelling – Tell stories about when you were growing up. Kids young and old like to hear ‘when you were young’ stories of your camping or outdoor adventures. Once the stories start everyone will join in to tell about their memories. Another way to tell stories is to start one and let all members of your family add to it and see where the story goes.
Watch clouds – As you are sitting around in your campsite watch the sky and find the characters in the clouds. Better yet put a blanket on the ground and lay on your back to find your shapes and see if you can see what others in your family see.
Climbing – Kids love to climb. Find a hill or some rocks along the shoreline that they can play on. Let their imaginations take over for hours of fun.
Skip rocks – Scour the shores of the lake to find flat rocks and see who can skip their rock the most times. This activity will be enjoyed by the entire family since even the young members can try skipping rocks.
Journaling – Pack a blank journal to use when you feel something happened that needs to be documented. Provide every family member with paper to do this and have them read their entries over dinner or while sitting around your campfire.
Sing songs – If your family is so inclined, singing traditional campfire songs can be a lot of fun. You can also photocopy the insides of everyone’s favorite CD and sing the lyrics to some of their favorite songs.
Beyond marshmallows – With this activity, children do not cook using a campfire. They can eat the campfire itself! Gather a paper plate, fork, spoon, and a cup of clear water for each kid. The ingredients should include coconut (shredded), licorice, pretzel sticks, raisins, and red hots candies. The plate is the campfire site, the spoon is a shovel, the fork is a rake, and the cup is a water bucket. Meanwhile, raisins form the fire ring, coconut is the tinder (for starting the fire), kindling should be represented by pretzel sticks, and a sprinkle of red hots signify the campfire’s coals.
Camping with family does need to include activities. It may sound very relaxing to sit around the campfire all day, but your kids and family members will need to keep busy. Use these suggested camping activities to help create an enjoyable family camping trip that will generate wonderful memories. One successful camping trip will lead to man, many others. Camping is a great family experience. Go and have fun and really member….these are not the only camping activities, you can come up with your own!
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