Camping is a great way to get away from the screens, pollutions, and general chaos that have become a daily part of so many of our lives. There’s something about being in nature and surrounded by fresh air that really relaxes and rejuvenates you, and you’ll likely come back from your weekend outdoors glowing with a newfound lust for life.
Having said that, no two camping trips are the same, and the activities you’ll get up to will vary a lot depending on who you’re camping with and where you’re camping. In case you need some inspiration for your next trip, we’ve put together a list of some of the funniest camping activities you can do on land, in the water, at night, and even when it rains… so you can make sure you make the most of your time in the wilderness.
Lots of the most popular sports involve spending time outdoors – running, cycling, soccer, climbing… you name it, so it makes sense that lots of sporty folks are also nature lovers. So what better way to combine interests than getting your exercise fix on a camping weekend? Plus, if you’re used to running or cycling on busy roads back home, you’ll really appreciate breathing in that fresh air for a change.
One of the best things about running is that you can do it almost anywhere (as long as you have some running shoes with you). If you’re camping in a new area, it might be worth walking around first to check out the area and scope out the best paths. Plus, if you’re running solo, make sure you tell someone where you’re going in advance. It’s worth having a quick look online before you set off too, in case there are any well-trodden paths near your campsite.
these are fantastic camping games, and all they need is a ball or frisbee. They’re great ways to keep the kids busy while you’re cooking dinner, but they can fun for families and groups of all ages too. It’s also a great way to get to know your neighbors – just make sure you don’t send a football or frisbee flying into the side of their tent! Plus, if you’re into organized fun, why not try out a game of ultimate frisbee (which can be enjoyed by adults, kids, or both)?
Some of the more tech-savvy nature goers out there will have already heard of geocaching, but for those of you that are unfamiliar, geocaching relies on using a GPS (many of the Garmin models are geocache-compatible) or phone to locate random spots with hidden ‘treasure’ (known as ‘geocaches’). Some feature logbooks you can sign or you swap trinkets for one that’s already in the box. Geocaches are located all around the world, and they can take you to some awesome spots you’d never find otherwise.
This will depend on where you’re camping but, if you’re a keen climber, it’s always worth checking out the area online before to see if it’s worth slinging your shoes and chalk in your bag for some cheeky bouldering.
Other ideas: Tree climbing, rounders, cycling…
Obviously, this won’t be possible everywhere you camp but, even if you’re miles away from the bearest coastlines, there’s often a river, lake, or even stream that can be used for some fun-filled aqua-based activities.
The simplest way to enjoy being close to the water is to swim in it! If you’re backcountry camping you can even bathe after your swim, and it makes for a great way to cool down if you’ve been hiking in the sun all day. Make sure you look out for ‘no swimming’ signs (they’re there for a reason) and be careful not to swim in water that looks as though it might have underwater plants that might snag you. If in doubt, ask the locals where is safe to swim, and there are tonnes of books that highlight the best wild swimming spots in certain areas.
This is a great one for kids, it’s free, and it only requires a stream and a bridge. Each play chooses a stick and lines up on the bridge over the water. After the count of three, everyone shouts ‘poo sticks’ and turns to see which stick makes it out the other side of the bridge the fastest (try to make sure everyone has a unique-looking stick!). If the bridge is tiny, you can always set an endpoint that’s further downstream.
This is another fun water activity that can be done in lakes, rivers, or ponds – as long as there are some rocks nearby. It takes skill and some practice, and it might end up becoming a daily part of your trip away.
The activities outlined above all have the added benefit of being totally free, but if you’re camping near to civilization you might be able to rent equipment so that you can try out other sports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, surfing, and even fishing (you could bring your own gear, but it’s pretty bulky so make sure you find out whether there are any good spots in advance).
But don’t worry if there’s not a drop of water in sight, there are plenty of things you can do to keep yourself entertained on dry land. In fact, land-based activities include some of the most classic camp activities.
Probably the easiest, most affordable, and most enjoyable activities to do while camping. Many campsites are placed in prime spots for hiking around the nearby areas, and there are often signposted routes nearby or friendly locals willing to explain a route to you. If you’re camping in the back and beyond, it’s probably worth doing some research beforehand, or at least taking a map with you, so you don’t end up getting lost.
Many campsites have rope swings tucked away somewhere, and they can keep the kids entertained for hours. Plus, if you’re hiking around the area, you might well come across more on your travels. If there aren’t any rope swings nearby, you could always consider stringing one up yourself (see here for instructions on how to build a rope swing) – you’ll definitely be the hero of the campsite that evening!
Camping a bird-watchers haven. If you’re camping in the trees, you’re likely to wake up to the sound of your fluffy friends greeting you in the morning, so it’s definitely worth having a pair of binoculars handy. And make sure you take them on any hikes you do too – for an affordable pair of portable binoculars, we definitely recommend the Bushnell Falcon 10×50.
Okay, so technically this is air-based rather than land-based… but we’ll include it here anyway. Getting out in nature is a great way to rejuvenate, and you should definitely factor in some downtime as well as more strenuous activities. Hammocks are a great way to jazz up your campsite, and there are tonnes of affordable options out there these days (for a great budget option, see the Wise Owl Outfitter Hammock).
This a lovely way to pass the time and explore the surrounding fauna. Make sure you know your stuff before eating anything you’ve gathered though, as there are poisonous things out there – if in doubt, don’t eat it. There are tonnes of online books available to help you in your foraging quests, and there are even courses and workshops you can attend.
Whether you’re a pro or you’re new to photography, camping provides you with some of the best subjects to practice on or home in on your skills. You’ll see the sun rise and set, most likely come across dramatic landscapes on your hikes, and you can snap some wildlife too. Plus, it’s always nice to get some shots of your camp and the people your camping with for the memory books!
Other activities: Tag, sardines, build a sandcastle
Evenings spent around the campsite are magical – there’s not much that beats hanging around a campfire under the stars surrounded by nature, good friends, and family. And if you want to make those special evenings unforgettable, why not try out one of the following activities:
No campsite is complete without a roaring fire to huddle around at night. Although there are various ways to build a fire (and everyone seems to have their own special tricks), these instructions are a good place to start. If you’re camping in a designated campsite, make sure you check that fires are permitted before you set one up, or else you might get yourselves into trouble.
Toast marshmallows by the fire: …let’s face it, the real reason you wanted to build a fire in the first place.
We absolutely love spending a night under the stars. If it’s not training and your tent has a removable fly, you can get all snuggled up and lie down and gaze up at the stars for hours from the comfort of your bed. If you don’t know your constellations already, there are some fantastic Apps out there (some are even free) that reveal constellations when you point your phone at them. these are a great way to learn, although we must admit that we prefer to avoid using our phones when we’re out in nature, and there are books available too.
This old classic is actually one of our favorites, and can be tonnes of fun in groups with groups of all ages. Just make sure to reign it in a bit if you have little ones with you – sleepless nights are a sure way to ruin the next day!
Other activities: tell ghost stories, wink murder, set off fireworks/release lanterns, play musical instruments, singing
And finally… what to do when the bad weather hits. As much as we hope you get good weather on your trip, we all know it’s not guaranteed, and it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve ready for a rainy day.
Curling up with a good book is a great way to wait for the bad weather to blow over – in fact, it’s a nice thing to do even when the sun is shining, so it’s definitely worth taking some books with you. If you want to make it a little more sociable, then you could take turns reading chapters aloud to each other in the tent.
f you’re feeling a little lazy and don’t fancy reading, why not listen to a podcast while you build up your energy levels? It’s a good idea to download some at home in case you don’t have signal at the campsite, and if you manage to find something everyone likes, you can hang out as a group and listen.
Cards are a classic campsite game that can be enjoyed at any time, but they’re especially good for wiling away rainy days. There are tonnes of games you can play with classic cards, or you can opt for a specialized game such as Uno.
Other ideas: Boardgames, napping
So, there you have it, some ideas for activities you can do on your next camping trip. We’ve included quite a range, so we hope you can find some that suit you no matter who you’re with or where you’re camping. Just remember, as much as we love packing in fun-filled activities, it’s important to factor in some downtime too so you don’t come back from your trip totally exhausted!
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.