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 on a scavenger hunt, have game tournamentents, do pie-iron cooking , try shore fishing and learn orienteering.
1. Set Up a Scavenger Hunt Around Your Campsite
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.
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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 eTrex 10 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
Outdoor 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
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.
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!
4) B3 BEAN BAG BUCKETZ GAME ALL AMERICAN EDITION: A party game that everyone can enjoy. This party game is a fast-paced, interactive team game that is easy to learn. sets up in a matter of minutes, and easily breaks down to be conveniently stored in the included carry case. 60"H x 24"W. 16 Bean Bags (8 blue; 8 yellow). Game instructions included.
5) BOTTLE BASH OUTDOOR GAME: This is another camping classic game. This outdoor game combines elements of virtually all outdoor games. A complete set includes 2 non-breakable lifelike bottles, 2 adjustable aluminum poles and detachable spikes with built-in scoring system, a 175g disc, and 1 mesh carry bag. You can set it up in a few minutes for hours of campsite fun.
6) SLACKERS NIGHT RIDERZ 100' ZIPLINE: This complete zipline kit comes with everything you need to mount the rope, attach the saucer, and go! Over 40 intense LED lights in the rope and flying saucer swing seat light up with rotating action. Comes with necessary hardware for mounting to 2 trees, including a back-up safety cable, spring brake and instructions. Includes all necessary mounting hardware and tools. Rubber hand grips for a secure hold and spring-steel brake slows riders down to a smooth stop Ages 8+. Max Wt. Cap: 200 lbs
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 Outdoor 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 camp cooking 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.
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 like the Rome Round and Pudgy Pie Iron 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.
For inspiration, check out the pie iron recipes elsewhere on Bass Pro Shops 1Source
4. Shore Fishing With the Family
When you’re trying to involve the whole family in fishing, keep it simple and keep it fun like an outing where you are from fishing the shoreline. 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
Orienteering is a sport that uses a GPS (Global Positioning System), a map and rules to navigate and sometimes race to a select destination. 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 a 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.
When it comes to all kinds of navigation, today, 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 Brunton TruArc 3 Base Plate Compass, 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 - video