20 Fun Summer Camp Activities and Games
When you first start planning your family vacation you get excited and anxious at the thought of a week away with the people you love the most, but the more you get into the planning process, the more you start to dread it.
It’s the same thing every time; a long road trip of hearing those infamous words of “stop touching me” from the back seat while your pre-teen tucks away under a blanket hiding beneath a pair of earbuds ignoring everything and everybody on the planet.
This vacation will be a trip to the popular campground two states away, so not only will you need to plan plenty of road trip games to keep from hearing, “are we there yet”, but you will need to keep the fun going even after you get there.
With enough activities planned you might even be surprised when your pre-teen sheds those earbuds to join in the fun.
Now that the plans are underway, and your campsite reservations are made, you will want to start planning your schedule and what you will do every day that you’re there, but where can you find something new and different that everyone will equally enjoy?
First, get to know the area and where your site will be.
The more room the kids have, the better it will be to keep them on the move, but even if the area is small, there is plenty they can do.
Plan some arts and crafts for a quiet afternoon and be sure to stuff a tote with books and puzzles for the youngest family members.
Don’t forget to account for the weather, extremely hot days will call for water fun and rainy days will allow for board games under the canopy.
Nighttime can be fun around the fire and even some night games might be considered to keep them from getting antsy.
To help you in preparing for your trip, we have compiled a list of 15 fun summer camp activities and games you can play with the family.
Meet your next-door neighbors by inviting them to some of the fun, and even if you’re a camp counselor these games and activities will fit right into your agenda.
Fun summer camp games
1. Scavenger Hunt
Everyone of any age can have fun with a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things that can be found around the campsite, things like sticks and leaves are a perfect start.
Give everyone a list and a bag to gather everything to bring back to a designated place, maybe a picnic table or a tent.
Team up an older child with a younger one, or for a family filled with young ones, everyone can search together in a team effort.
If you have children who can’t read perhaps you will want to provide them with picture cards filled with things they can find. In the end, you can reward the winner or winners with a fun snack.
2. Camping Charades
This fun game can be played like an ordinary game, but instead of describing the usual celebrities, incorporate things and animals found on a camping trip.
Maybe you will want to act out movies that relate to families and camping or act out animals and insects that can be found in the woods.
By planning this game ahead, you can be prepared to play it at a moment’s notice, and the best thing is, all you will need are the sheets of paper with the items and a bowl to put them in.
3. I Am…
This is another game that will only require slips of paper and some tape. You can play this for some downtime after a long day at the pool.
Plan this game ahead of time by putting nouns down on slips of paper; the nouns can be people or things, it will be harder if you add places to the mix.
Each person should draw a slip of paper and tape it to the forehead of the person on their left without showing them what the word is.
Using a timer and starting with the youngest player, each person can ask as many questions as they can before the timer runs out.
If they can guess what or who they are before the time runs out, they keep that piece of paper and get a new one to start with on the next turn.
You can set a number of rounds to play before the game starts and the person at the end of the rounds with the most pieces of paper wins the game.
4. The Alphabet Game of Concentration
A great game for the evening before hopping into the sleeping bag, this classic game is sure to be a hit with everyone in the family.
Imagine that you’re going on a trip and starting with the letter “a” the first person says, “I’m going to____ and I’m taking______”.
The next person then starts by saying the same thing including what the first person is taking and then adding something that starts with “b”.
The game continues until you get to the letter “z’, but when a person gets stuck, they are out of the game. The game ends when you get to “z” or there is only one person left in the game.
Of course, you can change the variations of this game and create challenges of your own. You can also make the trip you’re going on related to camping to make it even more fun.
This is another classic game that has been played at parties for years and can also be used for winding down before bedtime.
The game starts with one player whispering in the ear of the person next to them.
The next person then whispers what they heard to the next person and so on until you get to the end of the line.
The last person left must stand up and recite what they heard. This can be a fun game to make them laugh on a rainy day and it’s also a great ice breaker for the first day of youth camp.
6. Spelling Connect 4
This is a combination of Words with Friends and Scrabble, but with a twist, because the kids will enjoy connecting words using their Connect 4 game.
Simply stick a piece of masking tape to each checker and mark it with a letter; combine a couple of sets of checkers if you want to make the game more challenging.
Each player will take a turn connecting the letters to make words adding a point for each letter placed.
The player with the most points at the end wins the game. This is a great game to satisfy boredom on a dreary rainy day.
7. Obstacle Course
Where space allows, this will be the perfect game to get out a ton of energy. Set up an obstacle course using things you find around the campsite.
If you want to plan this game ahead of time, consider taking along some small cones or tin cans that can be used for the course.
You can set up the cones or cans for each person to run through before climbing over the picnic table or hopping over a line of sticks.
Incorporate some rocks throughout the course and make sure they don’t kick them along the way.
The greatest thing to an obstacle course is that almost anything can be used and in the end, the kids will be worn out and ready to relax around the fire for some quiet storytime.
8. Duck, Duck, Splash
This is a cool game for a hot day. Played much like the classic game of Duck, Duck, Goose, each person sits around in a circle waiting to get splashed.
The person who is “it” will walk around the circle as many times as they would like, tapping each person on the head chanting “duck, duck” and when they decide they’re ready they will tap the final person on the head and say “splash” while pouring water on their head.
The person who was splashed will then be “it” walking around choosing the next victim.
You can make a total number of rounds for this game if you want, but be sure everyone, especially the smaller ones, all get a fair chance to be “it”.
9. Glow-in-the-Dark Ring Toss
With this game you will need two empty water bottles, two glow sticks, and eight glow rings divided into four of one color and four of another.
Fill the water bottles with enough dirt to keep them sturdy. Put a glow stick inside each bottle and then place them at least 6-inches apart from each other.
Split the players up into two or divide into two even teams. Decide on the score goal, 21 points is usually fair for families.
Each player will take a turn tossing their ring to the opposite end trying to ring a bottle. For each ring around the bottle the team will get 5-points.
When a ring touches the bottle but does not get ringed, the team will receive 3-points and each ring that is closer to the bottle than the others receives 1-point. The first team to make the goal score wins the game.
Enjoy playing this game at night with nothing more than the campfire, the patio lights, and the glow sticks, they should last a long time.
10. Rock Painting
Painting and hiding rocks has become a craze around the states so why not make your family camping trip part of the craze?
Have the kids go out and find some decent sized rocks to bring back to the campsite.
Set up a table under the canopy and place many different paints and markers around the table.
Offer paintbrushes of many sizes and plenty of water cups for rinsing them before dipping into the next color.
Enjoy making creations out of the rocks and the time spent talking will bring the family closer together.
When the rocks are finished, the adults can use a spray sealer to lock in the design and then the kids can enjoy hiding the rocks for the next family to find.
11. Pass the Water
The kids will have a chance to test their skills on a hot day while playing this game. All you need is cups and water.
Everyone should line up in a single file with their cups. All the cups should be empty except the first person who will fill their cup to the brim.
It starts with the first person filling up the cup behind them over their head without looking.
Play continues down the line until the last person gets water in their cup (if there is any water left at that point).
If there is water left, the first person should then run to the back of the line and the game starts again until there is no water left. Reward the team with a cool tasty treat at the end.
12. Relay Races
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If you have the space, incorporate some fun relays into your plans. A potato sack race, 3-legged race, and the good oil egg and spoon race can be a lot of fun for the kids and adults alike.
You can purchase these games in the set of three to include everything you need for each race.
The four eggs and spoons are plastic, so you don’t have the worry of a mess, the two bands for the legs are soft and made of elastic, and the four potato bags are made of durable burlap and will fit anyone in the family.
All this comes in a convenient storage bag so it’s so easy to carry with all your camping gear.
Everyone will enjoy the competition of these relay races, and in the end, you can reward the winning team with a dunk in the pool.
13. Camping Olympics
So many things can be included in the Olympics, but one sure thing should be a great game of Tug of War.
All you need to do is purchase this heavy, 16-foot long rope and get the game started.
It’s made of blends of cotton and polyester, so you won’t have the uncomfortable rope burn that you would get from other rope.
The game is a lot of fun for every age and the kids will enjoy watching the adults battle it out between themselves.
To make the event more fun, add a small inflatable pool to the middle so the losing team will fall right in.
14. Lawn Rollors
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Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you’ve never heard of Lawn Rollors, it’s time to give the game a shot. This game is played like a combination of Bocce, Bowling, and Horseshoes all in one.
The game comes with six wooden disks divided by two different colors and each one with a number painted on it, along with two wooden triangular cones and a convenient carrying case.
Each player takes a turn rolling their disk to the opposite end of the playing field striving to hit the target.
The numbers showing on the disk when it lands will be the number of points you will get.
This game is perfect for families of all sizes and ages and should be taken with you every time you go camping.
The last game we chose for our list of fun summer camp activities and games is this game of Bucketball.
This is a must-have game for endless hours of fun with the whole family. It’s easy to play; place six cups at one end and the remaining six at the other end.
Fill them with dirt, rocks, or sand to keep them steady and form your two teams of players.
Each player takes a turn throwing the ball trying to get it into the cup at the opposite end of the playing field.
When a ball goes into the cup, the cup is removed, and play continues until all the cups on one end are removed.
The team who removes all their cups first wins the game. It can’t get any simpler than this!
The game is offered in three choices; a starter pack, a combo pack, or a party pack. It stores conveniently into its own pouch for easy transport.
16. 1-2-3 Look
This is a fun game that can be played with the entire group. You can sit everyone down and have them close their eyes while the instructor yells ” 1 2 3 Look! “.
Once he yells LOOK, everyone lifts their heads and look at someone specific in the group. If both people are looking at each other, they need to scream together.
There are no really winners or losers here, it’s just a fun game to pass some time and keep the kids active.
17. Ping pong bed sheet
Cool active games for two groups. Divide the kids into two groups, and have each team hold a bed sheet from each side.
Now throw a ball onto the sheet, and have each team try to make the ball drop from the other team’s side of the sheet.
Some basic guidelines though:
- No launching the ball in the air
- Only move the sheet up or down
- the first team to reach 5 points wins the game
18. Charades – ballon edition
Write down nouns on a piece of paper and fold it twice. Now place the folded paper inside a ballon neck and blow it, once the balloon is inflated just tie a knot and put all the balloons in the center of the group.
Each kid by his turn will pick a balloon and pop it, taking the piece of paper inside and acting the noun written on it.
The first kid to recognize the charade and scream the correct answer is next in line.
The game continues until no more balloons are left.
19. Alaskan basketball
Divide the kids into two groups, and have a throwing object on hand with you. One team needs to form a circle while the other surrounds them from the outside.
Now one kid from the inside circle needs to throw the object as hard as he can and far away as he can.
Once he throws it away he starts running around the circle of his own team while the other team needs to scramble and get the object thrown.
Once a kid gets the object, all his team members form a line behind him and start passing the object below their legs and after that again above their head back to the first kid.
Once the first kid gets the object back, the team yells STOP and the first team needs to stop running in circles. Now the kid who got the object is the kid inside the circle and he needs to throw the object and the game continues.
This game will have the kids running around and tired very quickly.
20. Capture the flag
The old familiar game that kids love. let’s see how to play it if for some reason you don’t really know:
- Divide the group into two groups
- Set the playing field which should be large enough to run and hide
- Place two flags on each side of the field
- teams need to sneak into the other team area and steal their flag and run back to their base without being tagged.
- Once a player has been tagged, he must go to the ” jail ” and stay there until released.
- There are a few variations of being in Jail, we like the one where he just waits for a few minutes before he can return to play.
- The first player to capture the flag and return to his base without being tagged is the winner.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out our list of summer camp games and activities. Were you able to try some of these ideas out?
Which one was your favorite? If you want more summer camp activities, check out these summer camp songs and our outdoor scavenger hunt list.