15 Fun Summer Camp Activities and Games
When you first start planning your family vacation you get excited and anxious at the thought of a week away with the people you love the most, but the more you get into the planning process, the more you start to dread it. It’s the same thing every time; a long road trip of hearing those infamous words of “stop touching me” from the back seat while your pre-teen tucks away under a blanket hiding beneath a pair of ear buds ignoring everything and everybody on the planet.
This vacation will be a trip to the popular campground two states away, so not only will you need to plan plenty of road trip games to keep from hearing, “are we there yet”, but you will need to keep the fun going even after you get there. With enough activities planned you might even be surprised when your pre-teen sheds those ear buds to join in the fun.
Now that the plans are underway, and your campsite reservations are made, you will want to start planning your schedule and what you will do every day that you’re there, but where can you find something new and different that everyone will equally enjoy? First, get to know the area and where your site will be. The more room the kids have, the better it will be to keep them on the move, but even if the area is small, there is plenty they can do. Plan some arts and crafts for a quiet afternoon and be sure to stuff a tote with books and puzzles for the youngest family members. Don’t forget to account for the weather, extremely hot days will call for water fun and rainy days will allow for board games under the canopy. Night time can be fun around the fire and even some night games might be considered to keep them from getting antsy.
To help you in preparing for your trip, we have compiled a list of 15 fun summer camp activities and games you can play with the family. Meet your next-door neighbors by inviting them to some of the fun, and even if you’re a camp counselor these games and activities will fit right in to your agenda.
1. Scavenger Hunt
Every one of any age can have fun with a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things that can be found around the campsite, things like sticks and leaves are a perfect start. Give everyone a list and a bag to gather everything to bring back to a designated place, maybe a picnic table or a tent. Team up an older child with a younger one, or for a family filled with young ones, everyone can search together in a team effort. If you have children who can’t read perhaps you will want to provide them with picture cards filled with things they can find. In the end you can reward the winner or winners with a fun snack.
2. Camping Charades
This fun game can be played like the ordinary game, but instead of describing the usual celebrities, incorporate things and animals found on a camping trip. Maybe you will want to act out movies that relate to families and camping or act out animals and insects that can be found in the woods. By planning this game ahead, you can be prepared to play it at a moments notice, and the best thing is, all you will need are the sheets of paper with the items and a bowl to put them in.
This is another game that will only require slips of paper and some tape. You can play this for some down time after a long day at the pool. Plan this game ahead of time by putting nouns down on slips of paper; the nouns can be people or things, it will be harder if you add places to the mix. Each person should draw a slip of paper and tape it to the forehead of the person on their left without showing them what the word is. Using a timer and starting with the youngest player, each person can ask as many questions as they can before the timer runs out. If they can guess what or who they are before the time runs out, they keep that piece of paper and get a new one to start with on the next turn. You can set a number of rounds to play before the game starts and the person at the end of the rounds with the most pieces of paper wins the game.
The Alphabet Game of Concentration
A great game for the evening before hopping into the sleeping bag, this classic game is sure to be a hit with everyone in the family. Imagine that you’re going on a trip and starting with the letter “a” the first person says, “I’m going to____ and I’m taking______”. The next person then starts by saying the same thing including what the first person is taking and then adding something that starts with “b”. The game continues until you get to the letter “z’, but when a person gets stuck, they are out of the game. The game ends when you get to “z” or there is only one person left in the game. Of course, you can change the variations of this game and create challenges of your own. You can also make the trip you’re going on related to camping to make it even more fun.
This is another classic game that has been played at parties for years and can also be used for winding down before bed time. The game starts with one player whispering in the ear of the person next to them. The next person then whispers what they heard to the next person and so on until you get to the end of the line. The last person left must stand up and recite what they heard. This can be a fun game to make them laugh on a rainy day and it’s also a great ice breaker for the first day of youth camp.
Spelling Connect 4
This is a combination of Words with Friends and Scrabble, but with a twist because the kids will enjoy connecting words using their Connect 4 game. Simply stick a piece of masking tape to each checker and mark it with a letter; combine a couple sets of checkers if you want to make the game more challenging. Each player will take a turn connecting the letters to make words adding a point for each letter placed. The player with the most points at the end wins the game. This is a great game to satisfy boredom on a dreary rainy day.
Where space allows, this will be the perfect game to get out a ton of energy. Set up an obstacle course using things you find around the campsite. If you want to plan this game ahead of time, consider taking along some small cones or tin cans that can be used for the course. You can set up the cones or cans for each person to run through before climbing over the picnic table or hopping over a line of sticks. Incorporate some rocks throughout the course and make sure they don’t kick them along the way. The greatest thing to an obstacle course is that almost anything can be used and in the end the kids will be worn out and ready to relax around the fire for some quiet story time.
Duck, Duck, Splash
This is a cool game for a hot day. Played much like the classic game of Duck, Duck, Goose, each person sits around in a circle waiting to get splashed. The person who is “it” will walk around the circle as many times as they would like, tapping each person on the head chanting “duck, duck” and when they decide they’re ready they will tap the final person on the head and say “splash” while pouring water on their head. The person who was splashed will then be “it” walking around choosing the next victim. You can make a total number of rounds for this game if you want, but be sure everyone, especially the smaller ones, all get a fair chance to be “it”.
Glow-in-the-Dark Ring Toss
With this game you will need two empty water bottles, two glow sticks, and eight glow rings divided into four of one color and four of another. Fill the water bottles with enough dirt to keep them sturdy. Put a glow stick inside each bottle and then place them at least 6-inches apart from each other. Split the players up into two or divide into two even teams. Decide on the score goal, 21 points is usually fair for families. Each player will take a turn tossing their ring to the opposite end trying to ring a bottle. For each ring around the bottle the team will get 5-points. When a ring touches the bottle but does not get ringed, the team will receive 3-points and each ring that is closer to the bottle than the others receives 1-point. The first team to make the goal score wins the game. Enjoy playing this game at night with nothing more than the camp fire, the patio lights, and the glow sticks, they should last a long time.
Painting and hiding rocks has become a craze around the states so why not make your family camping trip part of the craze? Have the kids go out and find some decent sized rocks to bring back to the camp site. Set up a table under the canopy and place many different paints and markers around the table. Offer paint brushes of many sizes and plenty of water cups for rinsing them before dipping into the next color. Enjoy making creations out of the rocks and the time spent talking will bring the family closer together. When the rocks are finished, the adults can use a spray sealer to lock in the design and then the kids can enjoy hiding the rocks for the next family to find.
Pass the Water
The kids will have a chance to test their skills on a hot day while playing this game. All you need is cups and water. Everyone should line up in a single file with their cups. All the cups should be empty except the first person who will fill their cup to the brim. It starts with the first person filling up the cup behind them over their head without looking. Play continues down the line until the last person gets water in their cup (if there is any water left at that point). If there is water left, the first person should then run to the back of the line and the game starts again until there is no water left. Reward the team with a cool tasty treat at the end.