The best camping activities for every age group, every activity level, and every budget.
You can only sing campfire songs for so long, amiright?
I would rather die than sing in front of anyone else, so campfire songs are not such a great idea for me.
These days, I have no problem entertaining myself while camping. But as a child and then a young adult getting into camping for the first time, I struggled to stay entertained during my time camping.
If you’re looking for good camping activities, I’ve got you covered. Below I’ve rounded up 50 examples of camping activities for every age group based on my 10-plus years of camping experience.
From classics like scary campfire stories and s’mores to great ideas you haven’t heard of, like Exquisite Corpse and Camouflage– I guarantee you will find an activity for your group here.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Table of Contents
Fun Camping Activities for Kids & Families
Attend a Nature Program
One of my all-time favorite camping activities is attending ranger-led nature programs. These kid-friendly camping activities take place at many national and state parks.
Sometimes a park will list its nature programs on its website. Other times, you’ll find the schedule on a whiteboard outside the visitor center.
Nature programs are an excellent way to engage your kids in the great outdoors and are almost always free.
Complete Junior Ranger Activities
On your next trip, see if the place where you’re camping has a junior ranger program.
Junior ranger camping activities for kids are available at many national, state, and regional parks, and they’re free.
These programs usually have a booklet of activities for the child to complete to earn a badge or reward.
I like this camping activity because it caters to younger kids. It can be hard to find camping activities for toddlers, but most junior ranger books have at least a coloring page for a young child to enjoy.
Don’t forget about “Telephone” if you’re looking for easy camping activities for kids on your next family camping trip!
Telephone is a classic game at summer camp. Everyone sits in a circle, and one person makes up a phrase. They whisper the phrase to the person next to them (just once! No repeats!), the person whispers the phrase they heard to the person next to them, and so on.
The last person in the circle says the phrase they heard aloud. Inevitably, the sentence has evolved and become misconstrued, and hilarity ensues.
Camouflage was one of the most popular camping activities for kids when I taught middle school ecology. Camouflage is like hide and seek with a twist (also–don’t forget Hide and Seek is another excellent camping game!).
In this game, the “seeker” stands in one place and counts to 30 with their eyes closed. The kids hide, but the twist is they must hide where they can see the seeker.
They must use their natural surroundings to camouflage themselves like animals do.
When the seeker finishes counting, they open their eyes but stay in their counting spot, calling out to the kids they can see from their vantage point. The stealthiest hider gets to be the next seeker.
Camping crafts make excellent camping activities for tweens and older kids, especially if it’s something they can do with their camping buddies.
I somehow never got the hang of friendship bracelets, but I definitely remember wearing one my friend made and feeling *awesome*.
Check out the Cridoz Bead Bracelet Making Kit for some easy beading.
Bring some glue, colorful yarn, and feathers to turn pine cones into fairy houses or decorate some awesome walking sticks.
Skipping stones is one of the best things to do while camping if your camping adventure takes you to the lake or river. Rocks are free, and you can compete for who can get the most skips.
Look for flat, smooth rocks, and just avoid hitting wildlife or other campers.
Make a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts take planning, but they’re free to set up, and can be so much fun for kids. You only need a pen and a few pieces of paper to write the clues.
Set up a camping scavenger hunt around the campground or along a short hike. Entice kids by calling it a treasure hunt.
The end treasure can be something as simple as s’mores.
Practice Survival Skills
Family camping trips can foster unforgettable, organic, teachable moments, especially regarding outdoor survival and safety skills.
Turn life-saving lessons into fun family camping activities by bringing a guide to edible plants and then trying the plants (once you are one million percent sure you’ve correctly identified the plant).
I also recommend teaching your kids to read a topographic map. I didn’t learn until college, and I feel much more confident outdoors because of it.
You can make this a fun activity if you turn it into a treasure hunt!
Check out the Wilderness Survival Guide for Kids if your survival skills are rusty.
Fun Camping Activities for Adults & Couples
Watch the Sunset
Watching the sunset is one of my top outdoor activities for couples.
Your weather app should tell you when the sun sets. Plan to arrive at your sunset-watching spot about 45 minutes before sunset. Bring a blanket or chairs and a fun drink.
A few clouds make for the best sunsets, as they catch the setting sun and make the sunset interesting.
Identify Local Flora and Fauna
Ok, not to sound like an old person, but bird watching is totally fun, ya’ll. Birds are everywhere, so you don’t have to be super stealthy to find them, and there are great apps like Merlin that make identifying birds easy.
To identify plants, I recommend the Picture This app. You take a picture of the plant, and the app scans a database of hundreds of thousands of plants.
Enjoy a Picnic in the Shade
Plan a picnic on your next camping trip and enjoy a meal beneath the cool shade of a tree.
Forget the old-timey wicker picnic baskets! Check out the Sunflora Picnic Backpack, which has an insulated pocket for a wine bottle.
Have a BBQ
A barbeque is an excellent camping activity for a large group.
Many campgrounds and RV sites have grills at each campsite, but even if your site only has a picnic table, you can bring a camping grill (like the Coleman Gas Grill).
Or you can dust off your cooking skills by hosting a barbeque competition, challenging your friends and fellow campers to bring the tastiest camping snack.
Bring pens and pieces of paper so everyone can vote on their favorite item of campfire cooking.
Host a Cornhole Competition
Take cornhole to a whole new level on your next camping trip. One of the easiest and best camping drinking games is a cornhole competition.
In cornhole, you play with two teams who compete to toss bean bags into a hole in a wooden board (check out this Wooden Cornhole Outdoor Lawn Game).
Every time an opponent makes a bean bag into your board, the losing team takes a drink.
Practice Nature Photography
I have a million sub-par, poorly lit photos from my camping trips, so I cherish it when I capture an excellent shot.
You don’t have to have a fancy camera to take great photos, either. Check out this tutorial on taking great pictures with an iPhone:
If you have a DSLR camera, check out this tutorial for landscape photography:
Take a Hammock Nap
Resting on my vacations has become a priority in the last few years, and setting up a hammock can be an excellent way to relax while enjoying nature.
Since many trees in campgrounds, RV sites, or parks are protected, use thick tree straps so you don’t cut the bark where your lines go.
This package from Wise Owl Outfitters has everything you need to get started. You can get a Wise Owl Outfitters Bug Net if you’re worried about bugs while you hammock. I used something similar when I backpacked in Panama, and it’s a lifesaver!
Best Active Camping Activities
Go for a hike
Your camping trip isn’t complete without a hike. Hiking is one of the best camping ideas for families, especially if you have older kids.
There’s usually good trail and safety information at campground kiosks or visitor centers. You can also try the AllTrails app, which has excellent trail information for 200,000+ trail maps.
Most hikes are free with your entry into the park or campground. However, some top-rated trails in certain national parks require permits.
Cool off by taking a dip in the river
Swimming is another one of my favorite family camping activities, especially in summer. One summer, one of the fun things I did with my friends was a “menagerie float.”
Everyone had a different animal floaty, and we floated down the river in a grand procession of creatures; it was so much fun! Get your menagerie float started with this Unicorn Pool Float.
Water Balloon Fight
One of the best campsite activities for a hot summer day is a water balloon fight. You can set up this fun activity almost anywhere with a water spigot, and it will get kids and adults running for their lives to dodge a big splatter.
If you want a more controlled water balloon activity, you can try to play catch with the balloons, getting farther apart every time you toss. Eventually, you get so far apart that it’s almost certain someone will drop the balloon.
Kayaking/Stand Up Paddleboarding
Kayaking is a fun way to explore a river or lake, plus it’s a playful way to move that’s not hiking. Bring or rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to cover some distance on the water.
A stand-up paddleboard looks like a big surfboard that you can stand or kneel on and paddle using a modified canoe paddle. The benefit of a stand-up paddleboard is that many are inflatable, making them much easier to transport.
I have the Isle Grom Inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard, and I love it.
Frisbee golf (also known as disc golf) is a fun camping activity even if you don’t have a proper disc golf course.
This game is just like regular golf, but rather than using a golf ball, you use a frisbee to aim at specific targets.
On a frisbee golf course, you aim for baskets that catch the frisbee, but in a campground, you would need to aim for targets of your own making (maybe an open bear box?).
Enjoy a bike ride
Some campgrounds and parks (or the towns adjacent to the parks) rent bicycles to tourists. So even if you don’t have a bike and a way to transport it, you can enjoy taking a bike ride.
Some parks have designated off-road bike trails; others do not, so double-check the trail designation before you set out.
Best Nighttime Camping Activities & Campfire Activities
Look at the stars
One of the most rewarding camping activities is stargazing. Not only can you take advantage of the dark sky over the campground, but if you time it right, you can enjoy a show of shooting stars.
Check out the American Meteor Society calendar to see when the next meteor shower might happen in your area.
If the shooting stars aren’t out, pull out the Star Safari app to see the constellations and planets in the night sky above you.
If you are tent camping, making shadow puppets can be a fun way to pass the time. You can do this in two ways. One, you can use your hands to make shadow figures:
Or, two, you can cut out doll shapes and glue them to kebab skewers to create a dancing shadows puppet theater:
Gather your friends for a game of glow-in-the-dark frisbee with a light-up frisbee! The Tosy 36 & 360 LED Flying Disc looks like a flying saucer, making it easy to keep track of in the dark.
You can toss the frisbee like usual or have a game of ultimate frisbee, where your teammates pass the disc to try and make it to the other team’s goal line.
Play Flashlight tag
A fun idea for nighttime around the fire is a flashlight tag. With flashlight tag, the person who is “it” waits at home base and counts to 30 while everyone else hides.
When they are done counting, they begin to “seek” by shining the light on the person and calling their name to tag them.
Once tagged, you wait at the home base until everyone has been caught.
My all-time favorite camping activity is roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. You can find sticks lying around, or bring some special Marshmallow Roasting Sticks.
If you want to get fancy, bring different kinds of chocolate (like Nutella or Andes mints) to create a more gourmet experience for your s’mores.
Tell ghost stories
One of the most classic camping activities at night is telling ghost stories. Whether you grew up watching “Are You Afraid of the Dark” or not, getting a little freaked out can be part of camping fun.
KOA has compiled 17 Kid-Friendly Spooky Campfire Stories, and if you’re looking for something more adult, check out The Dyrt’s Freak Out Your Friends with These 13 Scary Campfire Stories.
Best Camping Activities Inside Your Tent for When It’s Raining
If you don’t have space for board games in your camping setup, a simple deck of cards can give you hours of entertainment.
Some classic card games include:
I recently discovered the Kindle app for my iPhone using Kindle Unlimited ($10/month), and I love it.
I’m tired of scrolling social media whenever I get bored, so now I open my Kindle app and read instead.
The beauty of this app is that it will work offline, provided you get your book downloaded ahead of time.
I get so *toight* while camping because I don’t have the space or time to do my regular at-home stretches.
So if you’re stuck in the tent, you might as well tend to your body. Check out this yoga for camping video for some inspiration:
Both have a massive variety of meditations themed for your mood, including meditations you can do while walking in nature.
Play Pass the Pigs
Pass the Pigs is a simple game with small pieces, a perfect tent camping activity in the rain. Pass the Pigs is like bunco, but you use pigs instead of dice.
You roll two pig “dice” and gain points depending on how they land. The first person to score 100 points wins.
Learn how to play Pass the Pigs here:
Sketch or Paint
Activate your creative juices and pull out some paper and ink! Or paper and pencil. The beauty of drawing in your tent is that you need few supplies.
If you want to paint, use a watercolor pen with a refillable reservoir rather than a cup of water. Check out this portable watercolor set.
Best Unique Camping Activities
Geocaching or Letterboxing
Geocaching and letterboxing are types of public treasure hunts.
In geocaching, you should take and leave something from the cache and write about it in the log book left at the treasure site.
In letterboxing, the treasure is usually a register, stamp book, or sometimes a small trinket.
The main difference is that geocaching uses GPS coordinates posted online, and there are geocaches all over the world.
Letterboxing uses clues and has been around much longer than geocaching.
Try Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is one of the most exciting camping activities.
But, take note: rock climbing is not something you should try by yourself for the first time. Instead, this is something you’d need to hire a guide for.
That said, there are more guide services than you might guess, and they often have easy beginner walls for new climbers.
Another one of my favorite adventure camping activities is caving. I’m from an area in southern New Mexico with *lots* of limestone caves, and some of my favorite memories from high school were exploring the caves around my town.
I don’t recommend ever wandering into a cave without doing your research first, and ideally, stick to caves with guided tours like Crystal Cave in Sequoia National Park.
Have a Multi-Color Fire
Once, on a birthday camping trip, my friends made me a multi-color campfire. It totally surprised me and made a regular ol’ campfire so much more fun.
You can also get Magical Flames Fire Color Changing Packets and make staring into the fire one of your top fun activities.
Have a Movie Night
I usually don’t advocate for *more* screen time while camping, but outdoor movies are fun!
When singing campfire songs and playing board games won’t do, you can gather the whole family around a portable movie projector.
This Outdoor Projector has a 100″ portable screen, but some tents are large enough for the room divider to act as a movie screen.
Best Camping Games
Capture the Flag
One of my favorite summer camp games was Capture the Flag. To play Capture the Flag, each team takes a flag (a bandana works great) and hides it somewhere on their own “territory.”
The game’s object is to find the other team’s flag and bring it back to your territory without being tagged.
If you’re tagged, you have to sit in “jail” (can be anywhere you establish) until someone from your team is daring enough to tag you out.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is one of the best camping games for adults who don’t know each other very well. One of the fun things about it is you get to know your fellow campers better.
In this game, everyone takes turns telling the group two personal truths and one lie. The group must guess which statement is the lie based on what they know about the person, their body language, or their gut feelings.
The Voting Game
The tagline for this game is, “Find out who your friends are.” The cards ask questions like, “Whose Google search history do you want to see most?” and “Who will be the last person alive?”
Assassin is another fun activity for friends or families who like to play games. Everyone in the group gets a playing card. The person with the Queen of Hearts is the assassin, and they murder people by winking at them.
You can play this around the campfire or throughout the weekend. I like the extended version, personally.
When someone gets assassinated, they should make a big, dramatic show of “dying.”
If you think you know who the assassin is, you can make an accusation, but if you’re wrong, you die too! The assassin wins if they kill everyone before someone identifies them.
Truth or Dare
One of the most classic campfire games is Truth or Dare.
If you don’t know the rules: someone asks, “Truth or Dare?” and you pick one or the other. If you choose ‘truth,’ you’ll have to answer a question with the truth, no matter how embarrassing.
If you pick a dare, you’ll have to complete a challenge. “I dare you to walk around the campground with pine cones in your shirt like boobs.” Or, “I dare you to use your walking stick like an elephant’s trunk every time you see someone drink from a water bottle on the trail.”
Personally, I always have a hard time coming up with good dares, so I like the Truth & Dare Card Game. This travel-sized Truth or Dare starter kit has silly dares and is perfect for camping.
Spoons are one of the best camping games for families if you have a picnic table in your campsite. I loved this game as a teenager, and it can get cutthroat!
Everyone gets four playing cards, and there is one less spoon in the center of the table than there are players.
The dealer draws one card from the top of the remaining deck, looks at it, decides if they want it, and passes it or a card from their hand, face down, to the player next to them.
When someone gets four of a kind, they stealthily (or not) take a spoon from the center. This move signals to the rest of the group that they can grab a spoon too. The slowest person who doesn’t get a spoon is eliminated, and the game continues with one less person.
Mafia, also known as Assassin or Werewolf, is one of the few camping activities you need at least seven people for.
In this big family activity, everyone gets a role in an imaginary town. Generally, there are mafia members and townspeople.
Like the game Assassin I listed above, the mafia members kill townspeople during the “nighttime” gameplay period, and the detective has to try and figure out who the mafia members are.
Accused mafia members get to make a defense for themselves, and then everyone in town votes. Unlike the other Assassin game, Mafia has a doctor role that can heal townspeople. Click the following link for complete details about Mafia.
20 Questions is a simple game where one person thinks of an object (or person), and the rest of the group gets 20 yes or no questions to figure it out.
If they do, they win; if they don’t, the other person wins.
Would You Rather
Would You Rather is another fun game; the more creative you can be, the better.
In Would You Rather, one person poses two scenarios to the group, who then has to answer which scenario they would rather have.
For example, “Would you rather have peg legs or snakes for arms?” The clarifying questions usually lead to laughter.
If you want some easy ‘Would You Rather’ prompts, check out Would You Rather? Summer Edition.
Anyone can play Charades as long you’re not too embarrassed to act things out silently.
Everyone writes down a phrase in Charades and throws the suggestions into a hat. The group divides into two teams, and one person from each team takes turns drawing from the hat and acting out the phrase.
If your team can guess the phrase in an allotted time (you can decide how long), you score a point. The opposing team gets one guess if you don’t guess in time. If they get it right, they get the point.
Of course, if you need more great ideas, there are boxed sets of Charades suggestions, like Party Charades.
Mad Libs is one of the best camping ideas for kids who know the parts of speech (i.e., nouns, adjectives, etc.).
Most people play Mad Libs with a Mad Libs book, where one person (the “reader”) asks the group for suggestions for nouns, colors, exclamations, adjectives, etc.
The reader then fills in the blanks of the Mad Libs story with those suggestions and reads a hilarious, disjointed, and ridiculous story.
There are a million versions of the Mad Libs books. Check out Vacation Fun Mad Libs.
Last but not least, Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative drawing game where you fold a piece of paper into four sections, and everyone takes a turn drawing part of a body onto their section of paper without looking at the previous drawings.
This game is one of the best camping ideas for artistically inclined campers and requires few supplies.
Check out this tutorial on Exquisite Corpse:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is chef’s kiss next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!
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