› Camping games

Camping games...endless ideas with nature!

Our kids came up with some very creative camping games on our trip around Oz. These games often kept them entertained at the campsite for hours. We thought of a couple too. We found there were different possibilities every time we moved to a new camp.

Some of these will be old favourites you remember from when you were a kid, others you might find are quite unique. Give them a go with little and big kids alike…or try a variation. You may be surprised how much fun you can have.


One of our kids favourite camping games - building a cubby house!Very impressive cubby Kumar and the kids designed at Chilli Beach, Cape York, Qld.

Build your own cubby house

Our kids became king and queen of lots of great cubbies. The kids would collect things from the camp area and use them as building materials. Kumar would love helping with the construction. Use trees, chairs, tables and poles as extra supports to make your cubby more durable. Sheets or towels make a good roof, just look in your dirty clothes pile!

Treasure hunts

This is like three camping games for kids all rolled into one. But it does need adult participation. You can do it all in one sitting or stretch it out over days. We used to have great fun thinking of clues and burying treasure.

Game 1 – Create a treasure map.

  • Scrunch up some white paper, then flatten it out. Get a used tea-bag, and rub it all over the paper. Allow to dry.
  • When the paper is dry, an adult needs to draw the map. Use pictures or words to explain how to find the clues to get to the treasure. We used to draw the place they would find the clue. Then hide the actual clues and treasure (make sure the kids don’t look!).

Game 2 – Make the props. Use an old carton or box and alfoil to make pirate swords. You could also make eye patches!

Game 3 – Play pirates. Get your props, draw a moustache or scar on your face, and use the map to find the treasure.

Obstacle courses

This is a never-fail camping game for kids. You can design an obstacle course to suit the age of your children, and you can build them almost anywhere. We just used whatever obstacles we could see, plus some of our own camping gear.

Here’s a random example from my memory –

Climb the tree…then go under the picnic table…dribble the ball across the dirt…jump off the stool…balance on the rocks/fence…run around the fireplace…do the circuit five times!

Animal spotlighting

This is the classic of all camping games. All you need is a strong torch and dusk or darkness. Look for shining eyes up in trees or across the ground. Possums are the most common animal we spotted, but you never know what you’ll find.

We were also taught one interesting variation with head-lamps. In darkness, shine your head-lamp down towards the grass and keep still. After a few seconds you will notice tiny glittering dots at ground level. Believe it or not, these are spiders’ eyes…and the longer you look the more you see!

Playing "Aboriginals"

Priya made up this kids camping game after we went on a few fantastic Aboriginal tours in the Northern Territory. In her eyes, she was imitating how she thought Aboriginals traditionally lived. Every place we went she would find new friends to play this game with her. Essentially, it was like playing house in the great outdoors.

She would take her beach bucket and collect leaves, sticks and other debris from the camp. Then she find a special spot to make her own camp (e.g. at the base of a tree trunk or around some boulders). She would mix up creations using her collected things or pretend to start a fire, make a meal, or weave some jewellery. It could go on for ages.

"Take only photos, leave only footprints."

We always do our best to leave no trace. We take nothing away from campsites and never intentionally disturb living things. We only collect things from the ground…and return them to the same place afterwards.

Bocce

Bocce is like a compact game of bowls. It's a great game to play when you're camping. You can play it in sand, dirt or grass. It doesn’t take up much space and everyone can play. Our kids used the balls as markers for other games too. You can pick up a Bocce set for about $20-30 in a sports store.

Another camping game for kids - build your own fairy houseIt may not look like it, but this is a fairy house - homemade by Priya!

Building fairy houses

Our kids would use sticks or fire-wood to build little fairy houses near our camp (like the one pictured above). They would decorate them with little things, like leaves and fallen flowers. They used to be amazed at the rainbow of colours they could see in the leaves.

Finally, they would write the fairies a note or draw a picture. After the kids went to bed, we would leave them something from the fairies thanking them for the house. It could be a note, or a sweet or fairy dust (glitter in a bag). They loved waking up to discover that the fairies had been!

Sand castles / mud cakes

Yes, it’s messy and dirty…but that’s what camping is all about. Put your kids in their dirtiest clothes and let them loose in the dirt or sand, whatever’s available. Add some water and they’ll have a blast for ages. They’ll build highways and castles and make mud pies and cappuccinos. Just close your eyes and run the bath!

Bath time in the flexi-tub

Our kids loved an outdoor bath in the flexi-tub (or ‘tubtrug’). They could splash around with very little water, either standing or sitting. James never wanted to get out. They loved the novelty and got cleaner at the same time. We would boil the billy and add some cold water to make it the right temperature. If there’s no one around, the adults can have a go too!

Every camp site offers different camping games.

We loved days spent just hanging around our camp site. With these camping games, the kids were happy too. If I’m honest…we all had a bit of fun with them! With each new camp site, the possibilities are endless.

There are all kinds of camping games for kids. I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration next time you’re camping. Like us, you might find that if you give your kids a nudge in the right direction – they’ll dream up the rest.

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