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September 5, 2023

15 Camping Activities to Keep the Whole Family Entertained

Written by Zack Newsome
Updated on September 5, 2023
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Kids having fun while camping
Nothing brings a family closer together than engaging in fun and exciting camping activities that cater to everyone’s interests.

When it comes to family vacations, few experiences can compare to the magic of camping. The smell of fresh pine trees, the crackling sound of a campfire, and the sense of adventure that permeates the air all contribute to a truly memorable getaway. But while the great outdoors provides a captivating backdrop, it’s important to have a plan of camping activities in place to keep the whole family entertained during your camping trip.

Nothing brings a family closer together than engaging in fun and exciting camping activities that cater to everyone’s interests. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of 15 camping activities that are sure to keep every member of your family entertained, from the youngest to the oldest. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking to try something new, these activities will provide endless opportunities for bonding, learning, and creating lasting memories.

In this article, we’ll explore a variety of camping activities that span different categories, ensuring there’s something for everyone. From nature exploration activities that encourage curiosity and appreciation for the environment, to water-based adventures that bring out the inner explorer, and campfire fun that ignites imagination, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also delve into outdoor games and sports that promote physical activity and friendly competition, as well as evening entertainment that allows you to marvel at the wonders of the night sky.

So, gather your camping gear, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to embark on a journey filled with excitement and togetherness. Let’s dive into our list of 15 camping activities that are guaranteed to keep the whole family entertained and create cherished memories for years to come.

Nature Exploration Camping Activities

Hiking: Discovering hidden trails and breathtaking vistas

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature is by going on a family hike. Lace up your hiking boots, grab a trail map, and set off on an adventure through the wilderness. Explore winding paths that lead to hidden waterfalls, climb hills that offer panoramic views, and encounter fascinating wildlife along the way. Hiking not only provides exercise and fresh air but also allows you to bond as a family while appreciating the wonders of the natural world.

Hiking is a great way to immerse yourself in the outdoors – especially if you prefer to camp with the luxuries of glamping or an RV. Getting out on the trail gets your blood flowing and forces you to experience the beauty of nature.

Family hiking on a trail in the woods together
Hiking not only provides exercise and fresh air but also allows you to bond as a family while appreciating the wonders of the natural world.

Nature scavenger hunt: Engaging kids in searching for specific plants, animals, or natural objects

Make nature exploration even more exciting by organizing a scavenger hunt for your kids. Create a list of items they need to find in the wild, such as different types of leaves, rocks, or animal tracks. Equip them with a magnifying glass, a notebook, and a pencil, and let them unleash their inner detectives as they search for these hidden treasures. Not only will this activity keep the little ones engaged and entertained, but it will also teach them about the diversity of the natural environment and the importance of observation.

Make sure to set some safety boundaries for your family scavenger hunt. Only hunting within the immediate area, not disturbing animal habitats, and even setting a timeline can help make keep everyone safe while on the hunt away from the campsite

Birdwatching: Appreciating the beauty of local bird species and learning about them

Birdwatching is a fascinating activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Grab a pair of binoculars, a bird identification guide, and head to a bird-rich habitat near your campsite. Spend some quiet time observing and identifying different bird species as they flutter through the trees or soar across the sky. Encourage your children to learn about their unique behaviors, calls, and habitats. Birdwatching not only helps develop patience and attention to detail but also instills a sense of wonder and appreciation for the delicate balance of nature.

A bird standing on a tree branch
Birdwatching not only helps develop patience and attention to detail but also instills a sense of wonder and appreciation for the delicate balance of nature.

By engaging in these nature exploration camping activities, you and your family will not only connect with the natural world but also deepen your understanding and respect for the environment. So, get ready to put on your hiking boots, sharpen your observation skills, and embark on thrilling adventures that will leave you in awe of the wonders that nature has to offer.

Water-Based Camping Activities

Swimming: Enjoying a refreshing dip in nearby lakes, rivers, or designated swimming areas

When the sun is shining and temperatures rise, there’s nothing more inviting than taking a dip in the cool waters of a lake, river, or designated swimming area. Find a safe and suitable spot near your campsite and enjoy a fun-filled day of swimming with the whole family. Whether you prefer leisurely floating or energetic splashing, swimming is a fantastic way to beat the heat and create lasting memories together.

Plan ahead and make sure to bring a towel or two. We LOVE the original towel by Nomadix. Nomadix towels are sand-resistant, odor-resistant, quick drying, and easily packable – making them perfect for camping.

Canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding: Exploring waterways and working together as a team

Take your water adventures to the next level by renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboards and venturing out onto calm rivers, tranquil lakes, or even coastal areas if available. Paddle through serene waters, navigate gentle currents, and discover hidden coves and picturesque landscapes. Paddling not only provides an excellent opportunity for physical activity but also encourages teamwork and communication as you navigate together as a family.

A family of four on a paddleboard together
Paddling encourages teamwork and communication as you navigate together as a family.

Fishing: Teaching kids the basics of angling and appreciating the tranquility of the fishing experience

Fishing is a classic outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. Set up your fishing rods, bait the hooks, and cast your lines into the water. Teach your kids the basics of angling, from casting techniques to reeling in a catch. Fishing offers a chance to slow down, appreciate the tranquility of nature, and engage in meaningful conversations while waiting for a nibble. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of catching a fish and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

Successful fishing requires having the right gear and knowing of a few spots where fish live. Do your research to identify good fishing spots before you leave for your trip to ensure the most successful and exciting fishing experience possible.

Water-based camping activities provide a refreshing and exciting way to cool off and make the most of your camping experience. Whether you choose to swim, paddle, or fish, the water offers a whole new world of exploration and enjoyment. So, pack your swimsuits, grab your paddles, and dive into the wonderful world of water-based camping activities with your family.

Campfire Fun

Campfire cooking: Preparing delicious meals or treats over an open fire

Food just tastes better when outdoors and one of the most enjoyable aspects of camping is the opportunity to cook and savor meals over a crackling campfire. Gather around the flames and unleash your culinary creativity with campfire cooking. Whether it’s roasting marshmallows for s’mores, grilling burgers and veggies on a portable grill, or wrapping ingredients in foil for a tasty campfire packet meal, cooking over an open fire adds a unique flavor and experience to your camping trip. Get everyone involved in the meal preparation and enjoy the satisfaction of creating delicious dishes together.

If you can’t get your kids excited about cooking, emphasize the fire element. Kids love fire and the opportunity to help build, light, and tend the fire might just get their attention.  Use the opportunity to teach fire safety as they enjoy watching their otherwise boring food be cooked by the flames.

Foil packets being cooked over an open campfire.
Kids love fire and will enjoy the opportunity to help build, light, and tend the fire.

Campfire storytelling: Sharing spooky tales or creating imaginative stories together

As darkness settles and stars twinkle overhead, it’s time to gather around the campfire for an age-old tradition: storytelling. Let your imagination run wild as you share spooky ghost stories, mysterious legends, or even create your own fictional tales. The flickering flames and the surrounding darkness create an atmosphere that enhances the thrill and suspense of the stories. Encourage everyone to participate and take turns spinning their own narratives, making it a memorable and interactive experience for the whole family.

Not great at coming up with scary stories on the spot?  We’ve got your covered. Check out this great list of campfire stores for kids of all ages.

Campfire games: Engaging in classic games like charades or marshmallow roasting contests

The campfire provides the perfect setting for bonding and laughter through classic campfire games. Play charades, where each family member takes turns acting out a word or phrase while others try to guess. Alternatively, engage in a marshmallow roasting contest, seeing who can achieve the perfect golden-brown marshmallow without burning it. You can also bring along a deck of cards for games like Uno or Go Fish. These simple yet entertaining activities foster friendly competition, create joyful memories, and bring the family closer together.

Campfire fun is an essential part of the camping experience. From savoring delicious meals cooked over open flames to spinning tales of wonder and engaging in exciting games, the campfire becomes the heart of the evening entertainment. So, gather around the fire, feel its warmth, and let the flames ignite not only your culinary skills but also your creativity and camaraderie.

Outdoor Games and Sports

Frisbee or catch: Playing toss games to improve coordination and have fun

When it comes to outdoor games, it’s hard to beat the classic fun of tossing a Frisbee or playing catch. Pack a Frisbee, football, or baseball and glove in your camping gear and head to an open area near your campsite. Engage in friendly competitions, practice your throwing and catching skills, and enjoy the thrill of running and chasing after the flying disc or ball. These simple games not only provide entertainment but also help improve coordination, teamwork, and physical fitness for everyone in the family.

Be careful to be considerate of other nearby campers when playing catch.  They may not be enthusiastic about a frisbee interrupting their peace and quiet. Make sure you have enough space to play and to make some errant throws that may go off course.

Soccer or volleyball: Setting up impromptu games in open areas

If you’re looking for more energetic outdoor activities, consider setting up impromptu games of soccer or volleyball. Find a suitable open area, set up makeshift goalposts or a volleyball net, and let the games begin. Engaging in team sports promotes collaboration, communication, and friendly competition among family members. Get ready to kick, pass, and score goals in soccer or bump, set, and spike in volleyball. These games offer a fantastic opportunity for exercise, skill development, and bonding.

Get creative with nature.  Find two trees to serve as your goalposts or string a rope between two trees to serve as a makeshift volleyball net. You don’t have to bring an entire field of gear to have fun outdoors.

Young man taking a picture with a camera while on a camping trip.
Photography allows you to create a visual diary of your camping adventure.

Nature photography: Encouraging kids to capture the beauty of their surroundings with a camera or smartphone

For those who have an appreciation for both nature and art, nature photography is a wonderful activity to engage in during your camping trip. Encourage your kids (and yourself!) to capture the beauty of the natural world through the lens of a camera or smartphone. Explore the campsite and surrounding areas, seeking out intriguing subjects such as vibrant flowers, stunning landscapes, or fascinating wildlife. Not only does nature photography encourage observation and creativity, but it also allows you to create a visual diary of your camping adventure that can be cherished for years to come.

Outdoor games and sports offer a chance to unleash your competitive spirit, enhance physical fitness, and revel in the joy of playing in nature’s playground. Whether you opt for toss games like Frisbee or catch, organize impromptu matches of soccer or volleyball, or capture the beauty of your surroundings through nature photography, these camping activities will undoubtedly provide hours of entertainment and create unforgettable memories for the entire family. So, step outside, get active, and let the games begin!

Evening Entertainment

Stargazing: Lying under the night sky and identifying constellations

As the sun sets and darkness envelops the campground, it’s time to turn your gaze to the heavens above. Lay down blankets or recline on camping chairs, allowing yourselves to be captivated by the beauty of the night sky. Look up and try to identify constellations, trace the path of shooting stars, and marvel at the vastness of the universe. You can even use stargazing apps or guides to enhance your knowledge and appreciation of the celestial wonders. Stargazing is a serene and awe-inspiring activity that encourages reflection and sparks curiosity about the mysteries of the universe.

Turn off as many lights at your campsite as possible to allow you to see the stars even better. Stargazing while camping is also a great opportunity to help kids understand light pollution and why we can’t see all the stars back at home.

A sky full of stars over a mountain backdrop with a family enjoying a campfire together.
Stargazing encourages reflection and sparks curiosity about the mysteries of the universe.

Nighttime nature walk: Exploring the campsite after dark, listening to nocturnal sounds

Embark on an enchanting nighttime nature walk to discover a whole new side of the campsite. As darkness settles, the nocturnal world comes alive with fascinating creatures and sounds. Use flashlights or headlamps to navigate trails, observing the shadows and listening to the symphony of night sounds. Keep an eye out for fireflies, nocturnal animals, or even the gentle glow of bioluminescent organisms. This unique experience will ignite your senses, provide opportunities for learning about nighttime ecosystems, and create memories of the wonders that come alive when the sun goes down.

We recommend venturing out on nighttime nature walks before telling scary stories around the campfire.  Right as dark settles in is usually best as kids’ imaginations won’t have yet starting thinking about what lies in the darkness.

Dad playing guitar behind a family enjoying a campfire while camping.
Take turns playing your favorite songs, singing along, and sharing your musical talents with one another.

Campfire music jam: Bringing musical instruments and having a sing-along session

Music has a way of bringing people together, and a campfire provides the perfect ambiance for a musical jam session. Bring along musical instruments such as guitars, ukuleles, or even a harmonica, and gather around the crackling fire. Take turns playing your favorite songs, singing along, and sharing your musical talents with one another. Campfire music jams foster creativity, evoke emotions, and create a sense of harmony and togetherness. Whether you’re strumming chords, belting out lyrics, or simply tapping along to the rhythm, the campfire becomes a stage for shared musical experiences.

If your family isn’t the musical type, listening to music on your smartphone or bluetooth speaker can be another great way to come together as a family through music.  Let everyone take turns playing music they like. Encourage a dance party to break out as the kids feel and respond to the music.  Be sure to load up your phone with some music before you leave home though as many campsites won’t have good enough cell service to stream from your favorite music platform.

Evening entertainment adds a touch of magic to your camping experience. Whether you’re stargazing, taking a nighttime nature walk, or having a campfire music jam session, these camping activities create a sense of wonder, connection, and relaxation as the day winds down. So, embrace the tranquility of the night, let the stars guide your imagination, and immerse yourself in the soothing rhythms of nature’s evening symphony.

The Bottom Line

As your camping adventure comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on the countless memories and experiences you’ve shared as a family. The 15 camping activities we’ve explored have undoubtedly kept everyone entertained, fostering bonds, and creating cherished moments that will be remembered for years to come.

From the wonders of nature exploration activities, where you discovered hidden trails, embarked on scavenger hunts, and marveled at the beauty of local bird species, to the refreshing water-based adventures of swimming, canoeing, and fishing, you immersed yourselves in the tranquility and excitement of the great outdoors.

Campfire fun brought warmth and laughter to your evenings, as you cooked delicious meals over open flames, shared captivating stories under the starry sky, and engaged in friendly games and competitions that brought out the spirit of camaraderie.

Outdoor games and sports provided opportunities for physical activity, skill development, and friendly competition, as you tossed Frisbees, played catch, scored goals in soccer, and bumped volleyballs. And through nature photography, you captured the breathtaking moments and sights that will forever be etched in your family’s memory.

Finally, the evening entertainment of stargazing, nighttime nature walks, and campfire music jams brought a sense of wonder, tranquility, and harmony, creating an atmosphere of togetherness and appreciation for the natural world.

Camping is more than just setting up a tent and enjoying the outdoors—it’s about creating lasting connections and fostering a love for nature and adventure. By engaging in these 15 camping activities, you’ve not only entertained the whole family but also sparked curiosity, encouraged physical fitness, and instilled a sense of appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us.

So, as you pack up your camping gear and bid farewell to your temporary home in nature, remember to carry these memories with you and let them inspire future adventures. Whether it’s another camping trip or exploring new horizons, may the experiences you’ve shared as a family continue to strengthen your bond and ignite the spirit of adventure within each and every one of you.

Until your next camping escapade, remember to cherish the moments, embrace the wonders of nature, and keep the flame of exploration burning bright.

Happy camping!


About the Author

Zack Newsome

Zack is a lifelong adventurer passionate about sharing the joy of the outdoors with others. He loves camping, fly-fishing, sailing, and exploring wild spaces. He launched Outward in early 2022 to inspire others to spend more time outdoors – improving mental health and more deeply connecting with the environment.

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