Kids are glued to their electronics more than ever before. Not only do they have TVs, but there are computers, iPads, smartphones, and portable game consoles. It’s easy to say yes to packing these items on a camping trip especially if they’ll help keep your kiddos from being bored. But, the whole point of camping is to get outside and enjoy nature, as well as some screen-free time!
Below we’re sharing 15 of our favorite screen-free activities for you and your kiddos to try that will have them forgetting you left their bag of electronics at home!
If you’re headed to a campground that’s near a pond, lake or river be sure to bring your fishing rods. Fishing is a great activity to do with kiddos, even the little ones. It can also be a wonderful teaching moment. Show your kids how to put bait on their hook, reel in the fish and unhook them. Toss the fish you catch back in the water or cook them over a fire for dinner that evening. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you read our blog, “Ways to Wear Wool this Summer” then you already know to pack your kiddos’ base layers for this activity. Merino wool is able to absorb moisture to help kids feel dry and comfortable.
Gard games are great for those extra rainy or stormy days when you get stuck in the tent or camper all day! Some of our favorite games include Go Fish, Solitaire, Spoons, Slap Jack and War. But, if you’re unfamiliar with many of these, we suggest purchasing a book that will help you and your kids learn how to play.
To add a little competitive edge, before playing, make a wager such as the loser does the dishes or has to make the bed in the morning.
Pack Yard Games
Yard games are something you can easily toss into your truck or camper before heading out. Most are weatherproof so you don’t have to worry about a little drizzle. And, they can also be a fun learning tool for kids.
Yard games are a great way to teach kids how to:
- Listen and follow rules.
- Get outside their comfort zone to be competitive.
- Work on motor skills.
- Have fun no matter if they win or lose.
Some of our favorites include Hillbilly Golf, Corn Hole, Bocce Ball, and Connect Four!
Go Canoeing or Kayaking
Canoeing is a great way to explore a different area of your campsite and often, it’s a great way to reach new hiking trails that aren’t accessible from your campsite. It’s important to note that younger kids may get bored or tired easily so consider starting with a shorter excursion. And, be sure to pack a life jacket, snacks, and water.
Before choosing to rent a canoe or kayak for your next outdoor adventure, contact your local REI, park services or local outdoor store for classes on canoeing, kayaking and more! Learning the proper technique and safety for this important is critical before taking your kiddos out on open water. While this activity is extremely enjoyable for kids of all ages, safety comes first!
Collect Sticks and Make a Fire for S’mores
Teaching your kiddos how to make a fire is one of the best skills they can have for any outdoor adventure. Help them collect sticks to build a fire together as a family and be sure to discuss fire safety with them during the process. As a reward, after dinner, make s’ mores as a scrumptious bedtime treat.
This activity is always a summer favorite! If you go hiking, pack your swimsuits or an extra pair of shorts so you can jump into the refreshing water if you find a nice swimming hole. If you’re lucky, you may find a safe area where you can jump off a rock into deeper water. No kid will say no to that!
Be sure to wear sunscreen and to pack a pair of base layers or Tubes so your kiddos can change into dry clothes after! Wool will help them stay dry and warm after a nice splash. Don’t worry about them getting too hot because the material is temperature regulating.
Make a Necklace from Nature
This is a wonderful activity for little kids to do while camping! The only item you need to pack with you is a string. The rest of the items come from nature! Scavenge around the campsite for materials that can be used to create a fun necklace. Look for pretty leaves, seashells and pretty rocks with small holes. Remember to have fun and use your imagination!
Pack String for Crafts
Packing string for crafts is lightweight and won’t take up much space in your suitcase or camper! This activity can also be done anywhere from the car-ride to the campsite to sitting down by the water or while hanging out around the fire. Create one of these “15 Summer Camp Style Friendship Bracelets” to sport after your adventure as a memory of all the fun you had!
Go on a hike!
Campsites are typically located near great trailheads. Put on sunscreen, a hat, and sunnies and head out with your youngsters for a day hike. Be sure to pack snacks and extra pair of socks and clothes in case you find a swimming hole!
During the hike, teach your kids some new lessons including:
- How to spot poison ivy.
- How to determine what direction they’re facing.
- How to read a map.
- What to do in case you see a bear.
- What to do if you get separated.
Remember to have fun and take frequent breaks to rest and drink water! Hydration is key especially if you are hiking at a higher elevation.
Read a Book or Nap in a Hammock:
In need of a little downtime? Set up a hammock between two trees at the campsite. This is a great way to escape the sun for a little shade during a nap. Or, stop by your local library on the way out of town to let your kids pick out some new books to indulge in. Kids, or parents, can enjoy some quiet time reading in the hammock.
Here are a few of our classic favorites:
- The Boxcar Children
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- James and the Giant Peach
- Where the Wild Things Grow
Play I Spy
I Spy is a classic game that requires nothing but your eyes! And, it’s great for kids of all ages. This game teaches kids to be observant and to look for things that may be hard to spot. It can also assist in teaching problem-solving skills and how to look for detail. This is a great game to play on the road in between destinations.
Paint Rock Pets
This activity requires you to pack a few items like paint and brushes but art projects in nature are always more fun! The outdoors can provide inspiration not found at home. So, let your kids’ imagination run wild and pack them away for a cute souvenir for home — they make great paperweights too!
Just be sure not to paint on any permanent objects at the campsite! It’s Okay to utilize a few little rocks but it’s important that we leave nature and the campsite as found so the next person can enjoy it too.
Create a Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt in the woods is a great afternoon adventure! Create your own scavenger hunt based on the area you’re in. By including colorful plants, trees or bugs on the list, your kiddos will be forced to pay attention to detail. It’s also a great way for them to learn what different types of trees look like or to spot plants they should stay away from like poison ivy. This may be an activity you consider making prior to departing for the trip so you can print out photos to help them spot an aspen tree versus a maple.
How to determine the winner if not all items are transportable? Pack a Polaroid camera that they can take with them on their hunt. If they spot an object on the list, they will be able to snap an instant photo of it for official review!
Get any last bursts of energy out before bedtime by catching fireflies. Give each kiddo a mason jar to put their captured fireflies into for a DIY nightlight to place in their tent. To keep the fireflies alive for a few days while you camp, place a little grass and a leftover piece of washed apple to keep the air inside the jar moist. There’s no need to feed the fireflies but be sure to let them free after your last night at the campsite.
Tell Ghost Stories
Huddle up with blankets around the campfire after you’ve enjoyed some s’mores to tell ghost stories. While reading a ghost story can be fun, we recommend something a little different to help spark your kiddos’ imagination. Whoever is holding the lit flashlight begins the story. Let this person share a few sentences. They can then pass the flashlight to any other person sitting at the campfire. This person then continues building upon the story and so forth until an ending is created!
If your kids aren’t quite ready for this activity, here is a list of 22 spooky campfire stories you can tell aloud to children of all ages.
Have some screen-free activities your kids enjoy? Share them with us below!