Toddler Picking Up Stick

13 Fun Camping Games to Keep the Family Entertained

Posted by Brian Connelly.
First Published Jul 2019; updated Jun 2023.

Keeping the whole family entertained is easily done with a few choice camping games to play. We've narrowed down a list of favourite 13 camping games to play out on your next family trip.

The last thing we want is bored kids when camping or hiking. Today we have a guest author, Brian from My Open Country, who has 13 great camping games to help keep your family entertained.

Hello all and good day and good camping. We want to remain cheery on the trails and so what is the best way to keep everyone's spirits lifted and get some chuckles? Well, some fantastic camping games to keep the entirety of your family and friends entertained, even the straggler that constantly complains that their feet hurt.

First and foremost, for any game out in the wilderness, you need to set up boundaries and rules. Safety needs to come first!

And so, without further ado, let’s look over some well-known and not so known games to enjoy during your camping trip with loved ones.

Some of these are simple, and some are more complex.

Some are better for young children, and some are great for older teens and adults.

I hope to have placed here a good selection for you to choose from and try out on your next camping trip with your loved ones.

13 Fun Games for Family Camping

1 Torch Tag

Even torches can be used for camping games.

Even torches can be used for camping games.

All you need is a torch (flashlight). The tagger with the torch needs to close their eyes and count to 50. Once they open their eyes, they run around trying to tag someone with the light. As soon as someone gets caught in the flashlight beam, they are tagged and become “it”, with the game starting again.

Be sure and mark clear boundaries beforehand, so no one gets lost or hurt.

2 Nature Bingo

Toddler Picking Up Stick

This is fun for all ages, and also educational. For this game, you'll need to set up a set of 'bingo' cards with various items you're likely to see around the campsite. You can make your own set of nature cards at home. Alternatively, a quick google search will throw up an array of options to print out. Here's a couple of great ones we have found:

Like in all bingo games the first one that completes a row wins.

3 Bear Catcher

This can be played in the dark or day time. During this game, there is a non-player who will call out “Go!”

There are sleeping bags set out (one per 'bear) around the campsite area, and each “bear” sits on their sleeping bag – or for this game’s purpose – their bear cave.

When they hear, “Go,” they need to run to the nearest cave, a.k.a. sleeping bag. The first one that gets tagged by the designated bear catcher before making it to their cave is the new bear catcher.

4 Duck, Duck Goose

This is a similar game to Bear Catcher, and is easy, especially for younger children.

All sit in a circle. The person who is “it” walks around the circle tapping each player on the head saying, “duck.” They continue this until they tag one person as “goose.”

The person who is 'it', needs to run once around the circle before they can sit in the 'goose's' spot. The 'goose' meanwhile must jump up and try to tag the person who is “it” before they can sit down in their spot.

If 'it' is caught and tagged before they can sit, they are 'it' again. If the 'goose' fails to tag them, then the game restarts with them as 'it'.

5 Card Games

Family playing card games at the campsite

A pack of cards are easy to take to the campsite.

Always a staple game for camping or home. You just need to bring a set of cards along with you and then play any number of card games, such as:

[Gav: Our kids love the card game 'Uno' when we go camping]

6 Capture the Flag

A great game for groups

This game optimally needs at least ten players, but you could probably get away with two teams of three or four.

  • First, you’ll need a large area.
  • Second, you’ll need a flag for each team.
  • Third, you’ll need to know the boundaries for the game and the boundaries for each teams area. These should be equally set apart and at approximately the same area of size.
  • Fourth, each team places their respective flag in a hidden area within their team's area. The flag needs to be accessible for easy grabbing from the opposite team. (No burying the flag or placing it where it can’t be removed.)
  • Fifth, set up your rules for your game. The objective is to steal the other team’s flag and to bring it to your team's area. If you are caught and tagged while in the other team's area you get sent to the designated jail. There, your fellow team members can come and break you out by tagging you again. That is if they can make it to the other side’s jail to release you without getting tagged themselves.

Your end goal is to take the other team’s flag and raise it on your territory. Winner!

(For a more detailed look at the rules, check out Gav's*Capture the Flag article**)*

7 Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunts are great fun for older kids, teens, and adults. You can set it up for teams to compete, pairs, or individual – but, I love the camaraderie of team play.

Similar to Nature Bingo, the objective of a scavenger hunt is to find a list of items that you should be able to find easily. The winner is the person or team that either completes the list first or scores the most points.

While traditionally, Scavenger Hunts search for items, you can set up your own variations of the game such as a 'Senses' scavenger hunt (particularly good for young kids), or a 'Skills' scavenger hunt (great for older kids and teens). For more ideas, check out this guide to unique scavenger hunts.

[Gav: Check out our Alphabet Scavenger Hunt download too]

8 Noah’s Ark

This one is fun around a campfire. Player one will say, “Into Noah’s ark went one anteater.” The next player will say, “Into Noah’s ark went one anteater and two beavers.” The next player will say, “Into Noah’s ark went one anteater, two beavers, and three camels.”

The gist is you have to continue naming in alphabetical order new animals until you get to “Z.”

That is if you make it to “Z.”

9 Campfire Telephone

Similar to Noah’s Ark, this is great around the campfire. You whisper to the person beside you something. They then whisper it to the person beside them. You go around the circle and see if the initial phrase whispered comes out the same by the time it gets to the original player.

10 Charades

A staple game for any group gathering. Set up, teams. Member of team 1 acts out words of places, things, or movie or show titles without any words (or noises). Team 2 guesses the answer. The team who scores the most points wins!

11 Nature Noughts and Crosses (a.k.a. Tic Tac Toe)

Nearly everyone knows noughts and crosses, and this is an easy one to set up at the campsite. The only difference from regular noughts and crosses on paper, is you are playing with items from your surroundings and on the ground or in the dirt.

Find four sticks to set up the 'board' and then gather two sets of items such as stones or pine cones for each player's pieces.

Once you are all set up, try and make three in a row first!

12 Petanque

Petanque Balls

Plastic sets of Petanque Balls are easier to take to the campsite and easier for smaller children to play with

Petanque (or boules) is a French game meaning, “feet planted.” and is hugely popular in France (you'll encounter it being played in nearly every village and town square).

You'll need to take a petanque set with you. You start by one player tossing the small ball down the area of play. You then take turns tossing you're (larger) balls, trying to get them as close to the small ball as possible.

The one closest to target wins, or collects points and you add them up at the end. Gamesmanship comes into this, as you can also toss your ball at the other person’s ball to knock it further away from the target.

13 Kubb

A Kubb King

Can you topple the Kubb King?

Last, and most definitely my favourite on this list is Kubb. This ancient Swedish game has been around for a thousand years and requires a bit of preparation, but it’s a very fun game which is gaining in popularity.

A Kubb set consists of 1 large 'King' dowel which is set up in the centre of the playing area, and two sets of 5 'knight' dowels, which are placed in two lines equidistant from the 'king'. Lastly, there are six throwing sticks.

Once set up each team takes in turns to throw the sticks, attempting to knock down all the opposing team's knights. Once you knock down all the knights, you can then try to knock down the King for the win. There are several more advanced rules like being able to revive your knights or knocking down three knights in a row.

Just be wary of getting a dowel tossed at your shins!

[Gav: we have a Kubb set that we sometimes take camping]

Hope you the best on your next outing. Stay safe and enjoy!