While camping is the perfect time to relax around a campfire and go sightseeing on hiking trails, it is also ideal for spending quality time with friends and family. One of the best ways to create a fun, memorable trip is to incorporate plenty of family camping games. Whether your camping fun is outdoors or indoors, there’s lots of fun to be had with these camping games.
11 Outdoor Camping Games
Outdoor camping games are great because they let everyone get active, soak up the sun and get fresh air. Here are some of the best outdoor games to play while camping.
1. Outdoor Checkers
The game of checkers is a fun way to help children develop critical thinking skills, and turning it into an oversized lawn version makes it even more exciting! To create your own portable outdoor checkers game, you need:
- A sheet or tablecloth that is safe for outdoor use
- A minimum of 24 bucket lids, all the same size
- Two different colors of spray paint
To create the game, spray paint a traditional checkboard pattern onto the sheet or tablecloth. Then, paint 12 of the bucket lids one color and the other 12 a different color — these are your checker pieces. You can stick to traditional colors, like black and red or black and white, but feel free to get as creative as you would like.
Cornhole is a classic outdoor game, and all you need to play is two to four players, a set of cornhole boards and bean bags.
Here is how it works:
- Space the cornhole boards a fair distance apart – the official distance is 27 feet from front to front.
- Separate into two teams with one or two people on each team, depending on how many are playing.
- Take turns tossing bean bags into the holes of the cornhole board.
- If a bag goes into the hole, it is worth three points. If it lands on the board without going in the hole, it is worth one.
- Tally the points in each round and count the difference toward the team with the higher number. For example, if you score seven, while your opponent scores five, you get two points.
- The first team to reach 21 points wins.
Like all games, there are rule variations for cornhole. Tailor it to the age ranges participating and the time you have available to play to make it the most fun for everyone.
3. Ladder Ball
Ladder ball goes by many names, including ladder toss and ladder golf. Whatever you call it, it is a popular lawn game that involves two ladder-like structures and “bolas,” which are two golf balls attached by a nylon rope. Each player gets three bolas and tosses them at the ladders. Different points are assigned to each rung of the ladder — three for the top, two for the middle and one for the bottom. It is also possible to score additional points by landing a bola on each rung. As players take turns tossing, they can knock other players’ bolas off a rung. The first person to reach but not exceed 21 points wins the game.
What better way to end the day than by tossing a few horseshoes while enjoying each other’s company? This is one outdoor game that both adults and kids will love playing. Some campgrounds, like select Kampground of America locations, include horseshoes as an on-site amenity.
Frisbee is a beloved outdoor game because it is easy to play, and you can involve anyone — including your friends, kids and even your dog! There are also endless different ways to play the game.
Some popular Frisbee games include:
- Tic-tac-toss: Tic-tac-toss is a play on tic-tac-toe that calls for 12 Frisbees. You can create a tic-tac-toe board on a tablecloth or tarp, or lay hula hoops on the ground. Instead of using X and O markers, you have to toss your Frisbee into your chosen square or hoop.
- Bowling: Set up towers of plastic cups or arrange shatter-proof bottles at the end of a designated play area and try to knock them down using a Frisbee.
- KanJam: For adults and older kids, KanJam is a great way to introduce some healthy competition into your camping trip. This Frisbee game involves setting two bins several feet apart and splitting into two teams. Each team must try to get their Frisbee into the bin while the other tries to deflect.
- Free throw: If you are playing with younger kids or want to brush up on your Frisbee skills before engaging in more competitive games, have a Frisbee free throw challenge to see who can make their Frisbees go the farthest.
Ringtoss is a fun carnival game you can easily adapt to fit whatever materials you have on hand. For example, instead of empty glass bottles, you can use filled soda, juice and water bottles from your camping cooler. After the game, let the winner keep whichever drinks they toss a ring around!
To make your own rings, all you need is:
- Durable hemp or jute rope
- Hot glue and a glue gun
- Decorative ribbon or tape
- Heavy-duty scissors or utility knife
Use the scissors or knife to cut the rope into the correct length to fit around your bottles. Once cut, hot glue both cut ends of the rope and attach them in a circular shape. Continue to secure the ends together until the hot glue is completely dry. If using ribbon, add more hot glue to the outside of the rope ring, where the two seams meet. Cut a small piece of ribbon and wrap it around the seam. If you do not want to use ribbon, decorative masking or washi tape will look just as good. Repeat this process until you have at least 10 rings.
To make your ringtoss game a day-long event, set up a craft station at the picnic table and decorate the bottles together before playing.
7. Capture the Flag
Capture the flag is one of the best games for camping trips because its something kids and adults can play together. It is also a great way to promote fitness, teamwork, healthy competition and strategic thinking.
Here is how you play:
- Prepare the area by separating it into two distinct territories. Make sure the areas are equally spacious and free of any tripping hazards. The two territories need to be easily distinguished from one another.
- Once the play area is complete, split your group into two teams of equal size. Each team must hide their flag somewhere in their territory — just make sure some part of the flag is visible.
- Players from each team must work together to find and retrieve the opposing team’s flag without getting tagged.
- If a player gets tagged by a member of the opposing team, they are frozen or sent to a “jail zone,” where they must remain until one of their own teammates unfreezes them. You can also change the rules to eliminate the jail zone and replace it with a task the tagged player must complete, like running in place or sit-ups.
- The first team to safely capture the opposing team’s flag and take it back to their territory is the winner.
You can easily adapt this game to fit several teams if you have a large group and ample playing space.
8. Water Balloons
Beat the heat with an exciting water balloon game! There are several types of water balloon games you can choose from, depending on your group’s age and how much space you have available. Change into your swim gear or an old t-shirt and spend the day playing one of the following:
- Water balloon fight: Whether you split into teams and play dodgeball style or it is each player for themselves, a water balloon fight is a fun, active way to stay cool. Just remember to stay aware of neighboring campsites!
- Hit the target: There are two different ways to play hit the target. One option is to create a target on a large board or in the grass and have each player see who can toss their water balloon closest to the center. Another option is to attach water balloons to a target board for a fun twist on darts.
- Relay race: For younger kids, have each player stand in a line and take turns rolling their water balloon across the grass and see who can make it the farthest without their balloon bursting. For older kids, bring some water-safe chairs and separate the group into two teams. Each player must run with their balloon to the chair and sit on the balloon until it pops. The first team to pop all their balloons wins.
With any of these games, be sure to collect any balloon pieces afterward!
When it comes to camping games for kids, few are as fun and simple to play as tug-of-war.
The only things you need to play are:
- A long rope
- A flag or ribbon
- A way to divide the playing area
Divide the playing area into two separate sections, clearly marking the dividing line. Find the center of the playing rope and tie the ribbon or flag. Have your group separate into two equal teams — each side should have roughly the same number of players, as well as weight. The first to tug the flag onto their side of the dividing line wins!
10. Lawn Jenga
You could play Jenga on an outdoor picnic table if you would like, but why not try your hand at an oversized, outdoor-friendly version? You can find lawn-sized Jenga games to purchase, but it is also possible to make your own out of six 8-foot 2-by-4 boards. To keep your do-it-yourself lawn Jenga set in-tact, apply a wood protectant, so it does not warp when it is exposed to the moisture in the air.
You play lawn Jenga just like you would the boxed version:
- Stack the Jenga tower by laying three blocks horizontally on the ground, then stack three more on top facing the opposite direction. Repeat this until the tower is complete.
- Each player takes turns carefully pulling one Jenga piece from the tower at a time and placing it on the top of the tower.
- The game is over when someone causes the tower to topple.
11. Obstacle Course
An obstacle course is among the top games to play camping because you can use whatever space and materials you have on-hand. The idea is to create a course that is simple enough for your youngest player to complete, but challenging enough that it requires careful thinking and maneuvering.
Some fun camping obstacle course ideas include:
- Weaving in and out arranged camping chairs
- Stepping in and out of buckets of water
- Crawling under a picnic table
- Completing chalk-drawn hopscotch on the sidewalk
9 Indoor Games to Play While Camping
While camping is the ideal time to get outdoors, there is still plenty of fun to be had from the comfort of your RV, tent or cabin. Whether you are waiting out a rainy day or looking for a creative way to unwind after all your outdoor adventures, here are some of the best indoor camping games for families.
1. Card Games
Card games are an easy way to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day outdoors. They can also help children develop their concentration and memory.
Some popular family card games include:
- Go Fish
- Crazy Eights
- Old Maid
- Phase 10
Before choosing a card game, remember to check the recommended playing age. Some are ideal for families with young children, while others are better suited for older kids and teens.
Spoons might technically be a card game, but it involves a little bit more attention and quick-thinking than Go Fish or Uno. To play this game, you will need a table large enough for all players to sit comfortably, a deck of playing cards and a plastic or metal spoon for every player except for one. The goal of this game is not to be the player left without a spoon at the end of the round.
Here is how you play:
- Place all the spoons in the center of the table within easy reach of each player.
- Deal four cards to each player.
- The goal is to get four cards of one kind, but you always keep only four cards in your hand. The dealer starts the game by looking at the next card in the deck and choosing to either keep it or pass it along to their left. If they keep the card, they discard another one in their hand and pass it to the player on the left instead.
- The person to the left does the same, and the cards continue to move around the playing circle until the dealer goes through the whole deck or a player gets four of a kind.
- When a player gets four cards of one kind, they must take a spoon from the middle as discreetly as possible.
- Once one player takes a spoon, the rest may follow, regardless of the cards in their hand — if they are paying attention.
- The round is over once all the spoons are gone. The player without a spoon is out. Play continues until all players except for one have been eliminated.
No matter who is playing, charades is a guaranteed way to get the whole group laughing. To play, just write down the names of movies, books, cartoon characters, well-known phrases, celebrities or even camping related activities onto slips of folded paper. Toss the papers into a bowl and then take turns choosing and acting out the item listed without using your voice.
4. Treasure Hunt
A full-scale treasure or scavenger hunt might be a little tricky in a tent, but RV and cabin campers will love it! There are endless ways to have an indoor treasure hunt. For example, you could turn it into an educational experience for your kids by having them find different pieces of camping equipment based on a set of clues. You could also transform your treasure hunt into a puzzle challenge by hiding the pieces of a puzzle around your cabin or RV. Make it even more challenging by dividing into teams and hiding two different puzzles — the first team to find, collect and assemble all their puzzle pieces wins!
5. Cup Stacking
If you have some disposable cups lying around your campsite, you can use them for several types of stacking games. Have each person choose a different surface to work from and see who can build the tallest tower, or hold a “Minute to Win It” style game, where teams race against each other to see who can stack and unstack cup towers the fastest. You could also reuse the same plastic cups for a game of indoor bowling or mini-golf.
6. Camping Bingo
For this indoor game, print premade camping-themed bingo cards from the internet or make your own out of cardstock and stickers. If you go the homemade route, consider filling your Bingo card with pictures of camping-related things, like a tent, fishing pole, bear, tree, campfire or sleeping bag. For place markers, use coins, candy pieces, marshmallows or bring along washable paint daubers. You could also combine your Bingo game with another game, like trivia or a treasure hunt, to make it even more interactive.
The best part about trivia games is that you can adapt them to any age group or subject matter. Try turning basic trivia into an interactive competition between family members to see who can rack up the most points. You can also use camping-related trivia questions to teach your kids important outdoor lessons.
Some camping inspired topics you could use when crafting trivia include:
- The Leave No Trace Principles
- Different types of tents and their purposes
- The names of constellations
- Wildlife safety
- Plant and tree identification
- Survival tips, including how to build a fire
- Pieces of camping equipment and their uses
- Missing campfire song lyrics
8. Board Games
Board games are traditional family entertainment for a reason — there are many types to choose from, and they are fun for every age. There are even camping and nature-inspired variations of some of the most popular board games, so you can stick with your theme.
Some of the best indoor cabin games include:
- Connect Four
You can also use pieces from different board games to create your own unique game.
9. Simon Says
Who knew a game about following the rules could be so much fun? Kids will love this classic indoor game, and it will help them learn things like sequencing skills, awareness and motor development.
Try out some of these commands for an entertaining, educational playtime:
- Physical: Encourage movement by giving commands like “Simon says give yourself a hug” or, “Simon says bust a dance move.”
- Directional: Help your kids grasp the difference between their lefts and rights by saying “Simon says high five the person to your left,” or “Simon says touch your right knee with your right hand.”
- Creative: Encourage creativity with commands like “Simon says act like your favorite animal,” or “Simon says sing a verse of your favorite song.”
- Complex: To make things a little more challenging, include things like “Simon says solve this math problem,” or “Simon says blink 10 times, touch your toes, clap your hands and then spin around.”
Family Activities at KOA
In addition to the indoor and outdoor games you bring yourself, KOA has plenty of entertainment to keep you busy. All campgrounds have fun playgrounds, as well as level and spacious campsites for you to play your own lawn games. For indoor activities, enjoy the comfort of a Camping Cabin or hook up your RV to a Back-In or Pull-Thru RV site.
Select KOA locations feature additional on-site amenities, such as:
- Game rooms
- Water recreation
- Jumping Pillows
- Resort-style pools
- Organized family-friendly events and activities
Contact your chosen KOA location for more information about available amenities and events.
Reserve Your Stay at KOA Today
Are you ready for a fun-filled family getaway? With plenty of comfortable ways to stay and endless on-site amenities, KOA is the perfect spot for your next vacation. Find a KOA location to get started — just don’t forget to pack the games!
About the Author: Kampgrounds of America
Kampgrounds of America is the largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds in the world, with over 500 locations across the United States and Canada. Founded in Billings, MT in 1962, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – today serve more than a million camping families each year. KOA is dedicated to “connecting people to the outdoors and each other” by providing people with a variety of camping experiences and the information they need to make the most of their camping trip. Read more of their camping and travel resources by visiting KOA.com/blog.