Camping Activities for Kids

When it comes to camping, I mostly don’t care if my kids are bored. In fact, I think it’s good for them to be bored. To be unplugged and to know the birds start chirping and sunrise and the stars come out slightly before dusk. There’s a certain right of passage that comes with walking the campground loop without adult supervision and learning how to whittle a point on a marshmallow roasting stick.

But, let’s be real, kids need some activities to keep them engaged while camping and here are some suggestions that have worked recently for our family.

Most campgrounds have a playground, an open field, or an area fit for tossing a baseball or throwing a frisbee. I normally keep an assortment of sporting equipment in our car (for impromptu rest stop exercise on long road trips). Sidewalk chalk is easy enough to pack and is good for hop scotch or random start and finish lines for bicycle races.

We tend to camp by water. Over the years I’ve discovered a butterfly net and a five-gallon pail provide for hours of entertainment as the kids extract bugs, minnows, and crayfish from the shoreline. If you’re collecting seashells, the net can also be used to clean off sand at a wash station.

This year our family has discovered metal detecting. We’ve been geocaching for years and this new hobby has naturally fallen in line with the “high tech treasure hunt” theme. Shown in this photo is an adult metal detector; check out this website for kid-sized metal detectors and an assortment of other outdoor-friendly gadgets and gear.

Last, but not least, for rainy days and quieter fun remember to pack pads of paper and an assortment of cards and board games (the fewer tiny pieces the better). An easy pre-camp activity might be to create a scavenger hunt and provide everyone with a clip board and bag for collecting leaves, stones, pinecones, etc.

Do you have a favorite camping activity for kids? If so, leave a comment below. As always, happy camping and happy trails!

About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine,, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at