Camping with your family provides a wide array of possibilities for enjoyment. From the basic activities that include swimming and hiking to more inventive activities such as story telling and cloud watching, there are activities for all ages. Since camping is a great way to relax your mind and ease out of the demands of your daily life, activities should be a combination of structured and spontaneous, not another something you need to do.
Each member of your family should come up with some activities they would like to do while camping. These ideas need to have some preparation when you pack so bikes, radios, backpacks, books, games, swimsuits. etc. are included. These structured activities should only consume part of your trip.
Staying busy does not have to mean filling up every hour with structured activities. Camping needs to include downtime for everyone and that, in and of itself, creates spontaneity. Have some thought put into this type of time so when the time is right your family can enjoy activities they have not thought of or done before. This is what creates memories.
Structured activities may include:
Swimming – No matter where you are camping you are bound to have a lake, a brook, or pool close to you. Swimming is great exercise and lot of fun for all ages. Send your kids off to swim their lungs out in these and explore the bounties of nature for themselves. If you are camping in a commercial campsite you might even be lucky enough to find a pool for your kids to go swimming in. But whether it is a natural or a man-made lake, as long as it is all right for your children to swim in them you know that they’ll stay occupied.
Biking – Camping is all about discovering nature and engaging in physical activities, and what better way of combining both than going out biking? When cycling around with your children make sure you have a map and a first aid box close at hand, so that you don’t continue to worry about getting lost or ending up hurt and can instead concentrate fully on the breathtaking view alone.
Hiking – You do not need to be a serious hiker to enjoy walking through nature’s beautiful display, wherever you are camping. Bring a map of the area and take your family on a hiking trip they will remember.
Build a campfire – Camping is not camping without a campfire. Although fire can be a danger, with attention to the fire and supervision of the kids the entire family can sit around the campfire and be memorized by the flames. Allow your kids to find twigs (on the ground, never cut them off a tree) and throw them into the fire. Once you build the campfire enjoy its warmth, roast marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoy how the dancing flames bring your family together.
Crafts – Bring items from home or have the kids find what they need to create crafts from nature. Gather twigs to build a castle or a fort, find rocks to paint to create rock pets, or bring glue and scissors and let your kids create what they can imagine.
Toys and balls – Bring items that will keep the family entertained in case of inclement weather and ones that will be enjoyed outside. A baseball and gloves, football, or frisbie can be tossed for hours between members of your family. Bring age appropriate toys that can take on a new dimension at the campsite such as a small truck. There will be hours of enjoyment and imagination as your kids (big and small, and Dad) transform dirt into a construction site or trails.
Dice – These five small, square, and numbered cubes can turn rainy days into many fun activities inside. Don’t loose track of how these cubes can also be used outside on the picnic table or choosing who does what to play a game, clean up in the evenings, or pack up to go home.
Fishing – Kids under the age of 12 usually do not need a license (ensure you and everyone fishing have the correct license for the State you are camping in). This is a great activity if you are near a river, lake or pond. Bring the poles and teach your children how to fish. There can be contests with prizes for the first fish caught, the smallest fish, the most fish caught, and of course, the biggest fish.
Learn a little – Do a little research on the area you will be camping before you leave. Without it coming off as a ‘lesson’ or ‘school’ find the historical sites or talk about what the Explorers of the past went through as they paved their way across the area. You can also learn about plants, birds, and animals that are native to the area.
Creative Spontaneous Activities
Take a late night walk – The best time of the day is the night. Kids are usually in bed so make a late night walk a special activity for the family. Check out the stars, listen to the silence, smell the fresh country air. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Scavenger hunt – Provide a list of items such as plants, leaves, or animal tracks that you might see to each family member. Go on a nature hike and have everyone check off everything they see. A planned scavenger can be done, also. Bring items from home and place them around the campsite. Provide a few riddles and clues and see how many they can find. Be cautious of plants such as poison ivy, oak, sumac etc.
Storytelling – Tell stories about when you were growing up. Kids young and old like to hear ‘when you were young’ stories of your camping or outdoor adventures. Once the stories start everyone will join in to tell about their memories. Another way to tell stories is to start one and let all members of your family add to it and see where the story goes.
Watch clouds – As you are sitting around in your campsite watch the sky and find the characters in the clouds. Better yet put a blanket on the ground and lay on your back to find your shapes and see if you can see what others in your family see.
Climbing – Kids love to climb. Find a hill or some rocks along the shoreline that they can play on. Let their imaginations take over for hours of fun.
Skip rocks – Scour the shores of the lake to find flat rocks and see who can skip their rock the most times. This activity will be enjoyed by the entire family since even the young members can try skipping rocks.
Journaling – Pack a blank journal to use when you feel something happened that needs to be documented. Provide every family member with paper to do this and have them read their entries over dinner or while sitting around your campfire.
Sing songs – If your family is so inclined, singing traditional campfire songs can be a lot of fun. You can also photocopy the insides of everyone’s favorite CD and sing the lyrics to some of their favorite songs.
Camping with family does need to include activities. It may sound very relaxing to sit around the campfire all day, but your kids will need to keep busy. Use these suggestions to help create an enjoyable family camping trip that will generate wonderful memories. One successful camping trip will lead to man, many others. Camping is a great family experience. Go and have fun.