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Ten Camping Games for Kids

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Looking for a way to entertain a group of kids on a camping trip? Need an activity idea for a camping-themed party? These camping games are kid-friendly, but fun for adults, too. So gather around the campsite and gear up for some outdoor play designed to make everyone a happy camper.

1. Sleeping Bag Race

Relay-races often top the list for outdoor kids’ party games. For a camping party, take a cue from the classic potato sack race, but use sleeping bags instead. Kids can jump inside of their sleeping bags, or get into them on the ground and crawl, worm-style, to the finish line.

2. Backpack Pass

Place the chocolate squares for your campfire smores into a small, brown paper bag. Write a command on the outside of the bag, such as, “Dance a jig.” Then place that bag inside another bag, on which another silly command is written. Continue placing bags inside of bags (all with silly commands on them) until you have at least one for each player. Place the collection of bags inside of a camping backpack. Set the graham crackers and marshmallows out, but inform campers that in order to retrieve the chocolate, they must complete the backpack game. Have everyone sit around the campfire and begin passing the backpack as you play music. When you stop the music, the player holding the bag must open the first bag, stand up and perform the task. Continue playing in this manner until everyone has performed a command and the bag containing the chocolate is revealed.

3. Knot Tying

Have someone teach campers how to three different kinds of camping knots. When the lesson is over, set a timer and challenge campers to successfully complete all three knots before the buzzer sounds.

4. Mosquito Bites

At the beginning of the campout, hand each camper a sheet of red-dot stickers. Choose a word that kids are likely to say often, such as “tent” or “camping,” and make that word forbidden to say for one hour. As campers go about their activities, if one kid hears another say the forbidden word, he gives that player a mosquito bite (places a red dot on her). At the end of play, the camper with the most mosquito bites loses, and has to remove the mosquito bites from the rest of the players.

5. Scavenger Hunt

What better way to explore your campsite than with a scavenger hunt? Hide various pieces of camping gear for the kids to find, or make lists of things they would find in your campsite's environment. In the woods, for instance, items to find could include an acorn, a red leaf, a piece of bark and a yellow flower.

6. Bear Catcher

In this game of tag, one player is the bear catcher and the rest are bears. Place one sleeping bag for each bear around the campsite. Have each bear go to his cave (sit on a sleeping bag) and have the bear catcher stand in the center of the play area. On the word “go!” (called by a non-player), the bears must race to a new cave before the bear catcher can tag them. When a player is tagged, he becomes the new bear catcher.

7. Magnet Fishing

Cut the shapes of fish out of three different colors of paper. Have three baskets filled with trinket prizes, and mark each basket with a ribbon that matches one of the fish colors. Attach a paper clip to each paper fish, and place them in an empty baby pool or planter box. Tie strings to sticks to make fishing rods, and then attach magnets to the ends of the strings. When a camper catches a fish, she chooses a prize from the basket with the matching colored ribbon.

8. Dream Catchers

Campers can make dream catchers to hang on their tents and then take home as souvenirs when the campout is over.

9. Canteen Bucket Brigade

Divide campers into two teams. Place two large buckets of water side by side, at one end of the campsite and two empty buckets, side by side, several feet away from the full ones. Line the teams up at the full buckets and hand each team a canteen. Team members must race to fill the empty buckets with the water from the full buckets, using only the canteen to transfer the water.

10. Campfire Relay

Divide campers into two teams. Set up two sets of supplies needed to build a campfire (paper, wood, rocks) and on the word “go,” have players race to gather supplies and build their own campfires (minus the actual fire part). The first team to complete the building of a campfire wins.
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