It has actually happened. You managed to navigate all the baseball games, soccer practices, dance lessons, gymnastics workouts, last minute work schedules, and volunteer commitments. The family is going camping! Fantastic!
But once you arrive at the campground and everything is set up, what are you going to do that will interest an entire family with diverse tastes? After all, the purpose of the trip is to spend quality, memory-making time together. You don’t want the kids’ noses buried in their electronics, Dad off fishing alone, and Mom tending to all the work at the campsite. You could have done all those things at home!
Here’s a list of five great camping activity ideas and what to do to get started. This list will spark the interest of the whole family and sure to make your next trip to the great outdoors the best one yet. Adults and kids will love to go scavenger hunting, have game tournamentents, do pie-iron cooking , try shore fishing and learn orienteering.
1. Scavenger Hunting
There are many ways to set up a scavenger hunt, but one of the simplest is to make bingo cards, each with a dozen items fairly common to a campground or recreation area. These can be as simple as printed lists of items or you could even involve the kids ahead of time by having them find and cut out small pictures of items to find then pasting them to the cards. The latter can become part of your regular camping kit and be used over and over again.
TIP Quick Link Watch Video: About Geocaching: High-Tech Treasure Hunt
|Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS Unit|
At the campsite or picnic area, divide into teams. Two to four per team is about the right size. Make sure each team designates one smartphone as their “official” collection tool. Each team draws a scavenger hunt bingo card. Set an official check in time in a couple hours. The team that comes back with the most photos on their official phone of the objects on their card is the winner. If more than one team finds all of their objectives, then the team that returned to home base first is the winner!
If you don’t want to set up your own scavenger hunt, there’s already a universal one that goes on 24/7 and has more than three million hidden treasures worldwide. It’s called Geocaching. You and your family can participate for free just by going to geocaching.com and signing up for an account. Download the free app, and you can use your smartphone to begin playing immediately. Or, if you decide you want to get seriously into geocaching, you can get a handheld GPS unit like the Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS Unit that helps you hone in on the finds even more precisely and faster – whether you have a wireless signal or not.
2. Outdoor Games Tournament
Games are part of many families’ camping traditions. Over the seasons, you’ve probably grown your own collection of favorites. If you haven’t, it’s time to get started. Try to find a games suited to the skills and interests of each camper in your group. Some will be athletic and others will be more mental.
Seven Fun Outdoor Games Available at Bass Pro Shops
|KanJam Outdoor Game Set|
1) KAN JAM OUTDOOR GAME: This is the ultimate disc game, perfect for camping, beach, tailgating or the back yard. It’s a little bit like old-fashioned horseshoes, but can be played nearly anywhere.
|Bean Bag Toss Outdoor Game|
2) BEAN BAG TOSS OUTDOOR GAME: This outdoor game goes by many different names depending on the region you’re in, but it’s a classic camping game. Players space the target boards in an open area, and toss beanbags in the attempt to get the bags in or closest to the hole. Some camping resorts actually hold organized tournaments.
3) LADDER BALL OUTDOOR GAME: This is one of the hottest outdoor games going today. It’s takedown system is light, easy to transport and can go pretty much anywhere you can!
|Stacker Blocks Outdoor Game|
4) STACKER BLOCKS: These blocks are a great game of concentration and skill, that doesn’t take a great deal of athletic prowess. It’s the grown-up outdoor version of the popular tabletop game. Actually suitable for any age players from 3 on up!
|Triumph Sports Badminton Game Set|
5) BADMINTON: This is another camping classic game. A complete set includes poles, nets, support ropes, stakes, racquets, and shuttlecocks all in a compact carrying case. You can set it up in a few minutes for hours of campsite fun.
|Triump Sports All Pro Croquet Set|
6) CROQUET: This is a great yard game because it doesn’t require a ton of physical activity so you can play no matter how warm the weather gets. Plus six or even more players can enjoy it at the same time, so it’s great for large groups.
|Giant Yard Dice Outdoor Game|
7) YARD DICE: Turn any tabletop dice game into a fun campsite activity for the entire family or group of camping friends. They’re sure to attract the attention of neighboring campers, too, and turn your campsite into social central.
Any of these games can be played as teams or individuals. If you want to host a party, bring along a whiteboard on an easel, too, and create tournament brackets. You’ll soon have everyone in the campground asking to join in.
3. Pie Iron Cooking
Cooking with pie irons turns an ordinary toasted cheese sandwich into an adventure, a learning experience, and an accomplishment. Customizing your own sandwich is fun, and the outcome is delicious. And it involves the kids in meal prep so it saves Mom or Dad some work, too. You’ll probably even be able to get them to make your lunch, too, since they’ll be having so much fun.
|Bass Pro Shops Double Camp Fire Iron|
You’ll want at least a couple of pie irons so multiple meals can be going at one time. Get quality cast iron pie irons because they heat more evenly which means there’s less chance food will burn. Properly seasoned, cast iron is the original non-stick cooking surface. Properly cared for, cast iron pie irons will last forever.
Bring along everyone’s favorite sandwich ingredients and with paper plates or Tupperware, set up a fixin’s bar on the picnic table. Then each camper can select what he or she wants to include in the sandwiches. Even peanut butter, jelly, and bananas are fair game! And offer a variety of bread, too, from plain white bread to rye and sourdough, and English muffins and crescent roll dough.
|Rome Round and Pudgy Pie Iron|
For inspiration, check out the pie iron recipes elsewhere on Bass Pro Shops 1Source
4. Shore Fishing
|Rod & Reel Spincast Combo Kit|
When you’re trying to involve the whole family in fishing, keep it simple and keep it fun. Especially if you have beginning anglers in the group, make sure you find a place where they will experience success and pretty quickly. That may even be a stocked pond. The important thing on first outings is that beginners catch something!
Also, make fishing an activity that’s part of the camping experience; don’t make it the focus of the camping trip for family entertainment.
Shore fishing is best, because if anyone gets tired of it, there are tons of other options for entertainment nearby including throwing rocks in the water, catching frogs, looking at bugs, or just lying down on the grass for a snooze. In a boat, you pretty much fish or there’s nothing else to do.
While some people seem “born to fish,” for many others it’s an acquired passion. That’s why it’s critical to make those first outings fun and memorable, and not “push” it past where everyone’s having a good time.
Keep the beginning gear, simple, too. A complete rod, reel and lure fishing kit is a great way to start out. The Bass Pro Shops Lunker Gear Spincast Combo fishing kit is inexpensive and perfect for kids to use in every type of fishing situation: panfish, crappie, bass or catfish.
5. Orienteering by Learning the Basics of Using a Compass & Map
|Silva Polaris Compass|
The GPS (Global Positioning System) rules when it comes to all kinds of navigation, today. Every smart phone is capable of getting you from Point A to Point B, usually to within a few feet of your destination. If the batteries are charged and you can pull as signal you shouldn’t get lost. Yet, those are two mighty big “IFS.”
So even with all the high-tech gadgetry, you should still carry a quality, orienteering compass with you. It’s a “never fail” system, as long as you know how to use it.
Learning the basics of using a compass and reading a map (which you need to do whether it’s on paper or a screen) are a great, beneficial family activities. And done right, it’s fun! The kids will enjoy memorizing things like this rhyme “Put Red in the shed and follow Fred” is helpful in remembering what to do and teaches how to use the compass. And there’s gratification in being the first to reach an unknown destination by following a set of instructions and the compass.
You’ll need at least one orienteering compass, but it’s better to have two or three available to break the group into teams. The basic compass you need is the Silva Polaris, it is inexpensive at around $15-$20 each, and is an item that should always be in your daypack anyway. If no one in your group is knowledgeable in orienteering, then do some research on line ahead of time or review the guidebooks that come with many orienteering style compasses.
About Geocaching: High-Tech Treasure Hunt