If you don’t know how to make camping fun, you could be in for a pretty miserable trip. Beginners and regular campers need to prepare ahead if you want to have a fun time with your family.
Our family has been camping for years and years. It was something my family did every summer when I was growing up and my husband did, too. We started camping together long before we had kids and it really has been one of the best ways to spend a vacation.
However, there have been some moments that were not so great and that has led us to make plans to avoid all misery possible. While experience is the best teacher, I want to help you out with a few tips and ideas so you can be prepared for a great time.
Related Reading: Check out the Round-UP of all our Camping ideas Posts, Here
How to Make Camping Fun
Without preparation, you can end up missing all kinds of camping essentials. I created a Camping Essentials Checklist that you’ll want to make sure and grab.
You’ll need to be prepared for cooking, sleeping, entertainment, proper clothing, hygiene, etc.
We live in Oregon, and that means … the weather can be pretty unpredictable. There are only 2 months of the year that we don’t experience rain so unless we want to only go during those months, we better prepare ahead of time for some rain.
There’s plenty more to be prepared for so I created the Camping Essentials Checklist. You can get it, too.
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Related Reading: Things You MUST Take When Camping With Kids
The #1 Thing –
Beyond all other things, any camper MUST bring along Tarps. Tarps can save you from all kinds of problems and having a sufficient supply will save you from many calamities. Make sure you have a big one, too.
I know, this should be a given, but odds are … something will go wrong on your camping trip. And, you’re going to just make everything worse if you bring a bad attitude along with you. Try being flexible and creative if you miss something, the kids get sick, someone is injured, or the weather turns bad.
Look at all those things as just another part of the camping experience.
The best part of camping is spending so much time outside. Encourage your kids to use their senses to discover and describe everything they see. Camping is the perfect time to go on hikes, have a nature scavenger hunt, make fairy houses, look for insects and animals, bird watch. There’s just too much to list, but spend time taking in nature while out camping.
Camp Near Water
Water play is a great way to make camping fun. Whether you’re near a lake, river, or beach, kids usually love to play in the water. Here are some fun water activities that go along nicely with camping.
- Building Sandcastles
- Paper Boats
- Skipping Rocks
- Investigating water creatures with a net
Related Reading: Camping Essentials – 17 Must-Know Camping Tips
We have a specific box of games that stay in our camping gear and we love sitting at the picnic table together to play. The kids always look forward to digging through it for their favorites.
- Playing Cards
- Spot-It (here’s a specific Camping Spot-It)
Bring Sports Equipment
- Baseball and gloves
- Our Favorite Outside thing to play is OGO Disc – it can even be played inside!
Set Up a Special Kids Play Tent
We loved having a small 2-man tent that was just for the kids to play in. Camping is pretty dirty and having them crawl around on the ground to play drove me nuts. It’s so messy and usually it’s not that easy to bathe so keeping them as clean as possible made me happy. They also thought it was a blast to have their very own play tent. They brought a few toys from home to play with and could keep them in the tent just for those times they needed something to do.
If you’ve got little ones, you’ve got to make sure and have a portable play area, too.
Have Fun Food
We all know about making s’mores around the campfire, but why limit yourself to the usual. We have some foods that we only eat while camping because they make a mess or are just fun to eat.
- Sunflower Seeds (throw the shells on the ground)
- Peanuts in the Shell (same as above)
- Cup of Noodle, a simple lunch that you just add water to
- Candy, Candy, Candy, we would bring gummies, licorice, fruit snacks, fruit by the foot
- Fun Campfire Foods the kids will love
Read — 12 Frugal Camping Ideas for Families
Plan Special Activities
Think of things you don’t get to do at home because your time is too tightly scheduled or you’re not all outside together. These are some of our favorite camping activities.
- Flashlight tag
- Moon Walk (not like Michael Jackson, but actually go on a nighttime walk and discover how different things are.)
- Playing with Glow Sticks
- Make Plant Rubbings
- Play Nature Charades
- Water Balloon Fight
- Campfire Stories – 15 Scary and Silly Campfire Stories
Look for Local Attractions
If we’re on a longer camping trip, we start to get a little antsy and try to spread out a bit. See if there are activities in the area that you can go check out. It’s a great diversion for a couple of hours, will leave the kids with a good impression of your camping trip, and it’s just fun overall for the whole family. Here are some things we’ve discovered:
- Historic Landmarks
- Cheese Factory
- City Park
- Outlet Shopping
- Disc Golf
- Swimming pool
Camp with Friends
This really should be my #1 tip. We’ve taken our kids’ friends camping multiple times and we’ve also planned group camping trips with our adult friends. It’s been absolutely amazing every single time. The kids have playmates so they don’t constantly require mom and dad. They can have more freedom because they’re nearly always safer in groups. And, as an adult, having friends along is just as awesome. It’s nice to have someone to share the load, play games, and just visit with. I vote to camp with friends every single time!
Camping is a great activity for families. There’s no better way to get away from home, slow down, and spend time together. I’ve found that as a mom, it’s the only kind of vacation that allows for relaxation and stillness. With a little preparation and planning, you’ll be having so much fun that you’ll start figuring out how to go camping more often.
Read all my Camping Posts at Tons of Camping Tips and Ideas Round-Up