Camping is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to get outside, off of their devices, and enjoy some time to unwind. Of course, all of that relaxing can actually get really…dull. Just sitting outdoors can be nice for a little while, but eventually, you are going to want to do something.
In order to keep your next camping trip full of fun and adventure, we put together a list of different camping games for all ages and groups. Some of these games require items to play, but most of these items are things you should take with you anyway.
10 Camping Games for Kids
As any parent knows, kids have a tendency to get bored fast. And when they get bored, they often get into trouble.
That is why it is a good idea to have a few games on hand and ready to go. Just remember that different age groups will want to play different types of games, and younger kids should probably play simpler games without too many items.
5 Camping Games for Toddlers
Red Light. Green Light.
Red Light, Green Light is a classic game that can help toddlers and other young kids learn body coordination. It begins with one person playing the role of the “traffic light” and everyone else as the “cars” standing a distance away at the start.
The traffic light will say “green light” which tells the cars they can “drive” towards the traffic light. Then the traffic light will say “red light” and turn around. At the red light, all of the cars have to immediately stop moving or be out.
The first person to reach the traffic light wins and gets to take a turn as the traffic light.
Simon Says is another game with a leader who directs the action of the other players. However, this time the game focuses more on paying attention than coordination.
“Simon” will give the other players commands with the preface, “Simon says…” All of the players must then do what Simon says.
But sometimes Simon will give the players a command without prefacing it with “Simon says…” Any player who follows that command is out, and the game continues until only one player is left. Then that player gets to be Simon and the game starts all over. Things can get extra tricky when players are already following multiple commands at the same time.
What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?
This game is a little bit like Red Light, Green Light with a bit of a twist at the end. Like Red Light, Green Light, you have a single person play as the wolf with everyone back at the starting point.
All of the other players ask Mr. Wolf what time it is. The person who is “Mr. Wolf” will then give them a time like “one o’clock” or “six o’clock” and all of the other players have to take that many steps towards Mr. Wolf.
Eventually, once the players are close enough to Mr. Wolf, that player will change the answer to “Dinner time!” At this point, Mr. Wolf will chase all of the other players back to the start with anyone caught being the new Mr. Wolf.
Often used as a game to pass time during long car rides, I Spy is a great game to play with toddlers who may not have the best reasoning skills. It basically involves a player, called “the spy,” choosing an object that they can see.
That player then says “I spy with my little eye…” followed by a quality or descriptor of the object chosen. You can also have the player describe the object by the first letter of the word which helps build vocabulary recognition.
The rest of the players take turns guessing at what the Spy sees. The letter method is better for younger kids while the descriptor can keep the game challenging for kids a little older.
Duck. Duck. Goose.
A favorite during recess for toddlers and children in elementary school, Duck, Duck, Goose is one of the more active games suitable for toddlers. That said, this game is definitely better if you have a larger group, though it works well for toddlers with even a small group.
The game begins with everyone except for one person sitting in a circle. The person outside of the circle is “it” and goes around the circle tapping players on the head saying “duck.”
Eventually, the “it” player will tap someone on the head and say “goose.” When this happens, the “goose” has to get up and chase the “it” player around the circle, trying to catch them before the “it” player gets back to the goose’s spot.
5 Camping Games for Teens
This game requires a lot of lung capacity to play but is a great way to get people active and even a little light-headed. You will need a ping pong ball and some large flat surface, usually a table.
This is inherently a competitive game, but it can be played in pairs or teams. The ping pong ball is placed in the center of the table and both sides blow on the ball.
The goal is to blow the ball off of the edge of the other team’s side of the table. It can be helpful to tape a paper barrier on the sides of the table to help prevent the ball from rolling off before it reaches one of the team’s edges.
Hide the Food
This game goes by a number of different names, but the premise remains the same regardless of the name. You start with a circle of people and one person in the middle of the circle who is “it.”
The people in the circle keep their hands behind their backs and pass around some item of food while the person who is “it” tries to identify the person with the food when it is in their hand.
To increase the stakes for both the ring of people and the person who is “it,” have the circle try to sneak bites of the food with the game ends when either the food is found or eaten.
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is a game played across the world and has numerous iterations. In fact, there is even an intramural Capture the Flag league for adults, but a teenager’s boundless energy probably works best.
You do not need a large group to play capture the flag, but it often works better with one. Both teams start on opposite ends with a flag behind them and one person guarding the flag.
The object is to capture the other team’s flag and return it to your base before being tagged. The guard can always tag someone within a safe zone, but other players can only tag someone who has their flag. A tagged player is then taken back to the team’s base and in “jail” until a teammate tags them out again.
Band-Aid Tag is fairly similar to basic tag with a minor tweak on the formula. Just like standard tag, you have someone who is “it” try to tag other people.
However, once someone is tagged, they have to place a hand over where they were tagged. That person can then become “it” or the original “it” player can keep the mantle.
Regardless of who is “it,” once someone can no longer bandage their tags (i.e. once they have been tagged three times), they are either frozen until another player “heals” them or out.
Junk in the Trunk
This game is one of the few on our list that will require a couple of items to play, though they are not hard to get. You need an empty box with an open-top, usually a tissue box, a number of ping pong balls, and a belt or other loop.
Run the loop through the box and fasten it to a player with the box behind them. Then start a timer and either see how long it takes the player to get all of the balls out of the box or the most before the timer runs out.
You can make multiple looped boxes for team competitions or just have the players play against the clock. You can also have them go for a low time rather than a countdown.
5 Camping Games for Families
Games for families can take a different approach than those for kids. Since adults are often better suited for playing games, it can be helpful to choose cooperative games.
Alternatively, you can choose team games that do not rely so much on physical prowess. Games that require the participants to outwit or out-think their opponents can level the playing field a bit.
Hide and Seek
Camping is almost the ideal place to play hide and seek with all of the foliage and natural environments to hide behind. That said, you will probably want to set out some boundaries beforehand to make sure children do not go too far out and get lost.
With hide and seek, one player is “it” and counts down from a number, giving the other players a chance to hide. The “it” player then tries to find the other players in their hiding spot.
Some versions have the other players trying to get back to a base before being tagged. Other versions consider the hider “tagged” once seen.
This game is similar to most other types of tag, but you do need flashlights to play. On top of that, this game only really works once the sun has gone down.
However, this is a great alternative to the classic tag that allows parents to play with their kids without having to try and keep up with their children’s frenetic pace.
With Flashlight Tag, you do not need to worry about actually physically catching someone. Instead, the “it” person “tags” someone by shining their flashlight on them.
Once tagged, that person may become “it,” but you can also have them freeze instead. If they freeze, then the other players have a chance to try and unfreeze them by physically tagging them.
Airplane is a great family game because it is not competitive and actually focuses on cooperation. You choose two members of the family with one acting as the “airplane” and the other as the “air traffic controller.”
You blindfold the airplane and place a number of objects around them. Then, the air traffic controller has to guide the airplane to their location (i.e. the “airport”) without the airplane running into any of the obstacles and crashing.
Technically, you can play this as teams, but it is not an ideal competitive game. Also, make sure the obstacles are not going to injure the airplane or cause them to trip.
Sleeping Bag Race
A Sleeping Bag Race is pretty much a potato sack rack race, except you use sleeping bags instead of potato sacks. This game is generally competitive, but the awkward nature of the race helps prevent any athletically gifted person from dominating the race.
Basically, you and the other competitors stand in your own sleeping bag. But instead of running, you have to hop forward in the bag to progress with the first person crossing the finish line being the winner.
Be careful to make sure that you run the race on thick grass to avoid your sleeping bags from getting dirty. You can also use trash bags if you want to prevent any damage, but they are liable to rip fairly easily.
Scavenger Hunts while camping might be even better than scavenger hunts at home. Keep in mind, you might want to make sure you have the items decided before you get out there to avoid difficulties.
You can also choose vague items that are necessarily easier to find, but then the game ends quickly. If you really want to make it a challenge, bring field guides with you and choose items indigenous to the area.
6 Camping Games for Adults
While games that involve children need to be a bit tamer, the same is true when all of the players are adults. Some of these games can include adult beverages to help spice up the competition.
[ Warning: Don’t Let Underage Kids Drink Alcohol. ]
If you or some of your friends cannot drink alcohol, you can also use non-alcoholic substitutes for drinking games.
Non-alcoholic beer will be a good choice, such as Heineken: Zero Non-Alcohol Beer Taste Beverage, Ritual Gin Alternative, Ritual Whiskey Alternative, and so on.
For more fun, you can consider some disgusting beverages, such as soda, tomato juice, radish juice, and so on.
Of course, these games can also include revelations that might be a bit embarrassing or risque.
Never Have I Ever
Never Have I Ever is one of the most popular drinking games and is also a great way to get to know your friends. It begins with one person saying the phrase “never have I ever…” and ending it with something they have never done.
Everyone else in the group who has done that thing must take a drink. Then someone else follows suit, and the game continues until everyone is nice and toasty.
Drink. Drink. Shot.
Just from the name alone, you might know where this game draws its inspiration from. This is essentially a grown-up version of Duck, Duck, Goose, except you substitute the goose with booze.
Just like with Duck, Duck, Goose, there is an “it” player, and all of the other players sit in a circle. The “it” player goes around the circle touching people on the head saying “drink” with each person taking a sip of their drink.
Then the “it” player touches someone and says “shot” with that player having to get up and catch them before the “it” player gets back to their spot. Whoever loses the race has to take the shot.
Hiking Stick Limbo
Hiking Stick Limbo is the first adult game on our list that does not involve adult beverages. That said, you do not necessarily need to use a hiking stick to play the game.
However, a found stick often increases the difficulty a bit since it is unlikely to be symmetrical or smooth. Another great thing is that, while active, limbo does not inherently favor the most athletic members of the group.
This is another adult game that does not involve alcohol and it also an active game. Thankfully, you do not need to worry about being extremely athletic to play.
You play this game pretty much identically to regular volleyball, except that the ball is a balloon. While this does mean you need a balloon to play this game, you do not necessarily need a net.
In lieu of a net, you can use a tarp or even a blanket to divide the “court.” To make things even more fun, play on your knees instead of your feet.
Truth. Truth. Lie.
Despite the name, this is not actually a variation of Duck, Duck, Goose. Instead, this game focuses on your ability to bluff the other players.
It starts with one person telling the group three things about themselves. The catch is that two of the things need to be truthful while the third is a lie.
If the group can figure out which is the lie, the “it” player has to drink. Otherwise, everyone guessing has to drink instead.
Glow Stick Ring Toss
This is an adult game that does not necessarily involve alcohol, though you can probably find a way to amend the rules to include drinking if you like. That said, this game will require that you get a number of glow stick rings.
Technically, this game can be played just for fun, but it is more common to be played competitively in teams. People can also play head to head in a tournament-style.
While stick will do, an extra tent pole often works better for the target of the ring.
5 Campfire Games
Once the day is done and everyone begins settling in, there are few things more relaxing than sitting around the campfire. But just because the sun went down does not mean that the fun has to stop. While campfire games might be a bit more sedentary than some of the others on our list, they can still add to the enjoyment and memories of your trip.
Telling ghost stories around a campfire is probably as old as humans and follows a long tradition that stretches back millennia. While this may not really be a game, it is likely something that everyone can do and enjoy.
Regardless of whether young or old, most people enjoy getting the heebie jeebies, and few settings are as spooky as the woods once the sun goes down. Even better, you do not need any items to tell ghost stories, though a flashlight can help add an ominous feeling.
To help make things easier for the less creative, you can always make a list of different premises. Then just cut or tear the list into slips and place them in a hat for stumped storytellers to draw inspiration from.
True or False
All you need for this game is a hat or some other receptacle and a piece of paper– though you can add a die to make it more interesting. Basically, everyone takes a piece of paper and writes down a list of things based on different categories.
Then, you cut or tear the different list items into smaller pieces and place them in the hat. Everyone takes a turn pulling a piece of paper from the hat and has to tell either a truth or a lie about themselves based on what is written on the paper.
If someone else guesses right whether true or false, they get to keep the slip of paper. The person with the most slips wins. To spice it up, let a die or coin flip determine whether you have to tell the truth or a lie.
The Alphabet List is often used as a game for younger kids still learning their letters, but it can work for any age group. Basically, you choose a category, like animals, and one person starts the list with an example that begins with the letter “A.”
The person next to them then thinks of something in the category that begins with the letter “B” and continues from there until someone cannot think of something.
The Alphabet List can be played competitively with teams, but it is usually played cooperatively as a group. If the group goes through the entire alphabet, you can either keep going until someone draws a blank or choose a new category and start again.
Charades is a classic party game that goes back to the 1700s in France where the nobles use it to spice up their nights. Charades could easily have fit into most sections of our list, but we think the flickering light from a campfire and the close proximity it brings fits perfectly.
This game can be competitive, splitting the group into two teams that take turns. But it does not have to be with everyone taking a turn and the whole group just trying to guess instead.
Like most of the games on our list, all you really need to play Charades is a piece of paper and something to hold slips in. Everyone writes down a few premises, and you all take turns choosing a slip and acting it out.
Twenty Questions is another game that works in a lot of different situations, but the peaceful nature of a campfire might help stir some necessary introspection. This is another game that can be played competitively, but it is usually best when everyone plays at the same time.
One person thinks of something, it can be something nearby but does not have to be. Then everyone else tries to figure out what it is by asking questions like “is it alive?”
Be careful to make sure that each participant gets to ask a question rather than an overeager member asking multiple questions before anyone has a chance to.
3 Tent Games
While most games are meant to be played outdoors, sometimes the weather does not always agree. Being trapped in a tent on a camping trip is bad enough, but having nothing to do while you wait out the weather only makes it worse. To stave off boredom and forget the inconvenience, try these 3 tent games until the sun shines once more.
While technically not a game, this can definitely keep any group entertained for quite a while. It does not hurt that the walls of the tent serve as an ideal “projection screen,” though you might need to “darken” them a bit during rainy days.
Though the appeal to children might be a bit obvious, even adults can find shadow puppets entertaining. How many shadow puppets do you really know off the top of your head?
To be fair, you should probably get a list of different shadow puppets as well as instructions beforehand. But everyone will enjoy learning how to shape their hands in amusing ways to create a shadow dog, ape, and more.
This one might seem like a bit of a cheat compared to most of the other games on our list, but card games have been around for centuries. And there is a reason that people still play them today.
Even better, card games generally do not require any items beyond the deck of cards itself. On top of that, there are multitudes of different games you can play with just a single deck of cards.
Aside from the number of different games, most games even have various rule sets to keep things interesting. Finally, there is a card game for virtually any size group, making it incredibly versatile.
Thumb War Tournament
By the time most people get to high school, chances are they have had a thumb war. This game involves two players locking hands at the fingers with both thumbs sticking up. On the count of three, each player tries to pin their opponent’s thumb with their own.
This is a great tent game because it offers some kind of semi-athletic competition without the need for a lot of space. On top of that, it also helps make sure that no one gets hurt, though you might need to referee a bit to keep things fair.
To keep things from being a “winner takes all” affair, host the tournament as a round-robin where each player gets to thumb wrestle all of the others. Then sort out the winners and losers into different brackets to keep the fun going.
Camping Games Tips – Rules to Live By for Games at Camp
Whatever game you choose, make sure that it is something you can play too. All too often parents or group leaders are more than willing to provide entertainment for someone else to do.
If the group is big enough, this can work, but games are always more fun when everyone gets involved. Aside from the fact that everyone else will have more fun if you participate, you might be surprised at how easy it is to get caught up in the play yourself.
Competitive games can be a lot of fun, but they can also inspire some bad behavior. No one likes to lose, but some people will go further than others to win a competitive game.
To help make sure that the game stays fun and no one gets hard feelings, try to choose games that require people to cooperate. Keep in mind, even cooperative games can be competitive.
Either, you can break up larger groups into teams that must cooperate, or you can pick a game that does not have a “win” state. With the latter, you can keep the fun going by trying to beat your “high score” rather than an opponent.
Everyone likes to win, and no one likes to lose. That might seem a bit obvious, but it can really help focus the games you choose.
Part of the reason that cooperative games are good ideas is that people are less likely to demonstrate poor behavior. Remember, the whole point of these games is to have fun, not necessarily to win.
It can also help to focus on players who show good sportsmanship and call out anyone who calls names or is a bit too rough. Even if the games are competitive, you can foster fair play by not keeping score.
Games are only fun for everyone whenever all players have a chance to win. That is why it is important to make sure that whatever game you choose, it is one that everyone can not only play but potentially win. The best way to ensure this is by picking games based on the person with the least ability to play.
A game that favors the athletically gifted is fine if all of the players are naturally athletic. But if members of your group show a wide disparity between athletic gifts, maybe choose a game that is inherently difficult for everyone.
Likewise, games that rely on cleverness or knowledge can be fun, but only if everyone is on the same development level. Keep in mind, one way to get around this is by choosing cooperative games.
Whether you camp with children, adults, or just a special someone, there is a game out there for your group. You do not even have to worry about daylight or outdoor restrictions.
So long as you keep in mind that the point of a good camping game is to have fun, you should not have any problems. With our list of camping games, there is something for everyone.
- 15 Best Free Online Virtual Summer Camps for Kids (2022) - July 6, 2021
- Expert Roundup: Advice to Mitigate the Effects of Coronavirus - March 22, 2021
- Best Gifts for Travelers - January 15, 2021