Camping Activities for Families

Before the s'mores, savor these fun campground activities for kids and adults.

Kids setting up tent for camping
Seiya Kawamoto / Getty Images

Camping is an ideal active family vacation, with most campgrounds offering tons of outdoor activities for families to enjoy. Think hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, rock-climbing, and more. To all of those, add these camping activities ideal for fun-loving kids and their parents.

Backyard Games

Backyard and playground games like tag, hide-and-seek, and kickball (plus newcomers like Gaga ball) are perfect for playing at campgrounds where you have access to some flat, open space.

You'll probably attract more kids to join in the fun and end up making some new friends.

Outdoor Toys

When you're packing up to go camping, bring along some basic outdoor toys or sporting gear, such as Frisbees or a football for playing catch; a set of badminton racquets and a birdie (no net required—just volley back and forth); or even a couple of hula hoops. Also fun: Ping pong paddles and a few balls (so lightweight and packable!). Use the campsite picnic table and skip the net; you can create a center line with chalk or painters' tape, or just play without one.


You can search for geocaches in or near your campground with a handheld GPS, or with a smartphone and the Geocaching app. You might want to bring along some small trinkets to leave in the caches you find (if you don't, that's fine; just don't take any goodies from the cache). If you're experienced geocachers, consider planting your own cache.

This requires a fair amount of planning before your trip, but it's a fun project for kids. Plus, it allows you to continue to visit your favorite camping spot year-round: You can check in on your geocache online and see whether anyone else has found it!

Campground Olympics

Develop a set of active contests for family members to attempt, such as swimming across a pond, completing a challenging hike, doing a certain number of laps around the campground by bike, accumulating the highest number of steps on your pedometer; and so on.

If you hit the same campgrounds or parks year after year, you can chart improvement over time.

Scavenger Hunt

Kids love treasure hunts, so send them out with a list of goodies to find in and near your campsite. Here's a nature scavenger hunt list I developed for CLIF Kid; or you can make your own. (Rather than taking items from nature, simply check them off on the list using the honor system, or have kids take photos or sketch pictures.)

Night Games

Storytelling and sing-alongs around the campfire are an awesome camping tradition. And since campgrounds get nice and dark at night, they're perfect for flashlight games. Or, have fun with glow sticks: Use them to play ring toss, or stuff them into clear plastic bottles for night-time bowling. (Glow sticks are also excellent for keeping track of kids as they run around in the dark!)

Fairy Houses

This is a nicely time-consuming activity, because before kids can build a fairy house, they need to collect all their building materials. FYI, fairies like small homes in secluded areas (like under a tree) but they also love houses with style!

So be on the lookout for cool-looking rocks, pretty leaves, and intricate twigs for your fairy houses.

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