How to keep kids entertained when camping = Bubbablueandme
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Entertaining kids during camping downtime

When we were away camping, quite a few of the mums mentioned that they loved the fact that you could do your own thing, and time seemed a lot slower on the campsite, with everything taking longer to do.  That bit annoys me a bit, because I feel like I’m wasting my time if we’ve been up since 8 and no-one else is ready to leave the campsite until 11.

I like to get out and about and go and see things, have experiences rather than wasting a whole morning.

But the kids had no such worries.  For kids, excluding the 2 babies, age 4 up to age 10 camping gives them freedom, and they could just hang out without parents worrying where they are.

Mostly they spent time over at the playground – there was a slide and swings ,a wooden tractor to clamber on, and then a football goal.  The table tennis table was mostly climbed on as far as I could see because there were no bats around.  Shame because I love table tennis.

We did take some things to play with, although most of the others had brought indoor toys, colouring, books, (and tablets a last resort).  There are some basic outdoor toys which are perfect to get children of all ages interested and wanting to have a go:

How to keep kids entertained when camping = Bubbablueandme

7 outdoor games/toys to take camping:

Bike – if you’ve got room in the car, it’s a nobrainer. N was the only one who had his, and it was invaluable. Lots of the older children had a go on it, and N even came second in a ‘competition’ on how long or far down the hill they could balance without putting their feet down or pedaling.

Frisbee  -good for the beach or campsite, adults or kids

Kite – we’ve got a simple easy to use parafoil kite.  A few of the kids had a go, although a couple preferred a stunt kite.  Again, can be used on the beach if it’s not too busy, or the campsite.

Football – less so around the tents, but there’s usually a football goal around, and it can also be used with a parachute.

Parachute – great for all ages.  Fun to use as a picnic for teddies or children, but there’s a huge range of games that can be played, and they fold down really small.

Swingball – I didn’t even think to take ours with us, but quite a few other tents had swingball sets up.  Just make sure your children (or yourselves) aren’t as hard hitting as my brother and I were as kids!  We broke quite a few sets in our time.

Walkie talkies – if you’re camping with a big group of children, walkie talkies are genius.  And great fun for the adults to see the children enjoying them.  In our group we had 2 sets.  The first evening, we sent the kids off over to the playground with the other 3, then the dad there for the one night only got on the other walkie talkie and set them tasks.  ‘Touch the ground, run around the playground, dance, head for the car with the licence plate XXX, split up, back to camp’.  It was a funny sight from where we were sitting, we had great fun thinking up tasks for them, and the kids loved it.  Just collect them up afterwards otherwise you hear the children all talking to each other after lights out.

When they wanted to stay closer to the tents, straight after meals or before bedtime, the traditional group games were played.

flying a kite - pocket parafoil kite in a pack

5 Traditional games to play at camp

Duck Goose

I vaguely remembered playing this at school, and it certainly wears the children out.  All sit in a circle, then one person walks round the edge of the circle, tapping heads or shoulders and saying ‘duck’ with each tap.  They choose which person is the goose, tap them saying ‘goose, then both run round the circle trying to catch or beat the other one back into the spare seat.  Whoever doesn’t get the seat, gets to choose the goose the next time.

Our group had a variation, running round the circle a couple of times because it was a smaller one, and letting each person in turn be in the middle.

The Farmer wants a wife

Towards the end of the week, most of the school mums had gone home, leaving the ‘farming’ mums, so this was a suitable game to play.  It went down well with both boys and girls of all ages.  It did amaze some of us at how long they kept playing, and how much kids wanted to be one of the people in the song.

It’s played by everyone standing in a circle, with the ‘farmer’ in the centre.  All sing

‘the farmer wants a wife,
the farmer wants a wife,
e i tiddly I,
the farmer wants a wife’

The farmer then chooses a wife from the circle.  The next is to choose a boy and girl, a dog, and any other items for as long as wanted.  Our game got a little silly (some of the mums joined in too…I think the wine went to their heads) with kids begging to be chosen as a dog collar and food!

Who am I?

This can be played in or outdoors with as many people as you want.  Each person is given a post it, sticker or hat with a name of someone famous written on.  The sticker is stuck on their forehead so they don’t know who they are.  For younger children you could change it to items on a theme (eg sports, or household items or toys).

Each person has a go in turn to ask a question of the rest of the players to whittle down and work out who they are.  If the person thinks they know who they are, they can guess after their question.  The first player to guess who they are, they win.

Sports day races

Running races, make targets and throw bean bags or balls into them for points, relays, throwing distances.  Anything that makes a race or something competitive.

Perform a show

One night the girls camping with us decided they were going to put on a show.  They went off to one of the tents, prepped their performance, did their own make up and hair, put on some performance clothes and then us mums had to sit and watch the show.  It was great fun, lovely to watch, and they spent about 2 hours planning it before the performance.

If you go camping, how do the children entertain themselves?

Why not take a look at these similar posts.

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  1. As a child, we went camping every single weekend during the summer and all school holidays. It’s so refreshing to see that some families still continue to partake in the same games that we did as children. Swingball really does take me back and the freedom you feel as a child. I still remember the feeling of damn grass on my feet first thing in the morning. Lovely memories x

  2. Great tips – we had our camping debut this summer – we had torrential rain for most of our stay! I think I would like to try camping abroad 😉 Kaz x

  3. Great advice! I have to admit when I think about camping this is one of my worries as its not like they have loads of space to run about inside the tent. I will definitely be considering these ideas if I ever pluck up enough courage to take 2 kids camping lol! x

    1. I don’t think the kids are that bothered about any rain anyway, but having a box or list of ideas, is definitely worth having just in case they do get bored.

    1. I think it depends on the children. Mine’s an early riser anyway, but others weren’t up so early. Especially with the later nights.

  4. Thank you for sharing all those ideas games to keep kids entertained. Next year we are going to brave camping for two nights and then do our favourite thing caravaning at the same site. Your ideas will be very useful. I used to love swingball so I think I will have to get one for my girls. The show one listed had me laughing as it is an everyday occurrence in our household, ballet mad children xxxx

  5. Thank you for sharing all those ideas games to keep kids entertained. Next year we are going to brave camping for two nights and then do our favourite thing caravaning at the same site. Your ideas will be very useful. I used to love swingball so I think I will have to get one for my girls. The show one listed had me laughing as it is an everyday occurrence in our household, ballet mad children xxxx

    1. Hi Leah

      Probably the best of both worlds going caravanning, apart from the drive (unless it’s a static caravan.

      Love ballet – I did it until 6th form, and only stopped due to school. That’s the one thing that’s a shame about having a boy, missing out on the higher likelihood that I’ll have a dancer.

  6. I have not gone a properly camping experience ever in my life but hope when I have kids I could take them. I love the different games you’ve shared that families can play during camping

  7. You’ve picked some great activities for kids to be doing. I’d love to take my boys camping one day and am glad I’ve seen this so I have some ideas of extra things to pack when we go.

  8. We love playing with kites even at home, our house is nearly all windy due to the location! And who doesn’t love good old fashioned sports day activities, my two ladies lovee having races, so much fun!

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