You’ve Pitched the Tent: Now What?
Last year was our first adventure camping as a family beyond our backyard.
I was not prepared.
I had enough “stuff” – you know, the sleeping bags, the swimming suits, the s’mores stuff, the beloved bug spray…
But I never considered having to entertain my children during our camping trip. Sure, they can find things to do and let imaginations soar, but that doesn’t normally last an entire 12 hour day.
This year, as we prepare again for camping this summer, I’m on my game.
I’ve got lists of things for the kids to do when there’s a lull in playtime.
10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy While Camping
These 10 ideas will help you keep your kids’ minds engaged while you are camping. Have more ideas? We’d love to hear them and grow our list!
1 – Hunt for Firewood
Kids can go “hunting” for the kindling that will help us start our fire. This is a perfect job for the little ones because sticks are easy to find, so they will feel successful and productive right away, and the smaller sticks are easy to carry for smaller hands.
Bigger kids may also enjoy chopping firewood (with parent supervision!).
2 – Help Make Dinner
The long handled forks will be perfect to let them cook their own hot dogs on the fire. We also have hobo pie makers that I’m planning on making pizza sandwiches in. The kids can put their own fixin’s inside the bread and set their irons in the fire. (Parental Supervision required!)
3 – Make Binoculars
Tape two toilet paper tubes together and string a neckstrap through the sides. Bring some stickers and let the kids decorate their own binoculars.
4 – Take Your Binoculars on a Nature Walk
Point out the animals you see, the foilage you find, and the sounds you hear. This is a great verbal exercise for kids under four!
Talking about textures, colors, and positioning words expands vocabulary. This is also a great time to point out the kind of foilage we want to avoid (poison ivy and oak).
5 – Create a Treasure Hunt
This can be throughout the campground or just on the campsite. The list for the older kids can include: a red sock, a purple flower, a penny, an unused kleenex, a baseball cap, and a chocolate chip cookie.
Lists for the younger ones can be much more abstract. I’m planning on putting some colors on a list with crayon. My three year old will have to find one item that matches each color.
6 – Host the Olympics
A little competition is fun, right? Make the olympics work for your space. Have the kids race, do a tug of war, run through an obstacle course, do a running long jump or throw a ball.
Make sure you have enough rewards for the winners, and try to find events that each child can excel in. I’m bringing enough scrapbooking paper to make crowns for the kids when they win.
7 – Get Dirty
Part of the fun of being a kid is getting dirty! Camping seems to really kick the “dirty quotient” up a bit.
Last year, the parents kept bantering back and forth about whose child collected more dirt that day. Well, I’m planning on getting the kids in on the banter, too!
The kids can search out the most dirt and gather as much as they can on their person. The dirtiest kid gets the first shot with the squirt gun.
8 – Squirt Gun or Sponge Ball Wars
Yes, #7 leads directly into #8. I’m personally planning on arming my boys with water balloons, soaker guns, and sponge balls while camping. Then, I’m going to set them loose on daddy. 🙂 (With his permission, of course). My goal with this exchange is to take at least one layer of dirt off the boys before shower time.
9 – Create Maps
Each campground is different. After you take a nature walk with your kids around the grounds, have the kids create a map to see how much of their walk they remember. Keep the map handy so they can add roads and places to them. It’s fun to watch the camping discovery through their eyes.
10. Draw a House in the Dirt
Clear off a small area and draw a basic house layout with a stick. Don’t forget about the kitchen, bathroom and living room! Then let the kids’ imaginations take over. Since I have two boys, they’ve already let me know that they’d like me to draw a garage instead of a house. They want me to include a drawing of all the tools so they can build something like dad does.
Do you camp with your kids? What are some fun things you do with them to keep them entertained?