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Fun Activities to Do While Camping

Here are our favorite camping activities for first timers and experienced explorers.

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Water Activities

Many camping destinations and cabins have waterfront access. Some water activities like kayaking, canoeing, boating and paddle boarding require bulky equipment, making them better suited for cabin living. Others, like fishing or swimming, can be enjoyed just about anywhere. A fishing rod that breaks down is essential for backpacking and camping trips.

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Outdoor Sports

Outdoor sports are the perfect activities for large camping groups. A soccer ball, football, volleyball or frisbee takes up almost no space in the car or camper. If you have extra room, a portable volleyball net is always a hit at outdoor gatherings.

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Outdoor Games

Cornhole, bocce, horseshoes, tug-of-war and ring toss are always-popular yard games. And they’re relatively easy to take along to drive-in campsites and cabins. For campsites you need to hike to, less is more. Family favorites like charades around the campfire, capture the flag and tag require little to no gear. Always bring a deck of cards for a rainy day.

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Outdoor Camping Activities

Hiking and trail running are great ways to explore the area. Watching the sunrise or sunset is a relaxing way to start or end a day. Other outdoor camping activities include slacklining, biking and birdwatching. Many national parks are known for excellent birdwatching, and the U.S. National Park Service provides educational materials for the birds you’re likely to see at each park.

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Camping Activities for Kids

Family camping trips are an American pastime. Keep young ones entertained with kid-friendly camping activities.

Crafting with or scavenging for natural items is an easy way to teach children about local plants and geology. Identify the type of rock before painting it. Collect fallen leaves and look for their corresponding trees. If there’s a beach nearby, have a sandcastle contest or collect seashells. Just be sure to follow local regulations, leave plants and wildlife undamaged and take any trash with you when you leave.

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Nighttime Camping Activities

Some of the best camping activities happen when the sun goes down. In areas where fires are allowed, bring a portable fire pit. Some campsites will have permanent fire pits. Building a campfire for marshmallows and s’mores is a splendid way to end a day of hiking and swimming.

Singing and storytelling are other traditional campfire activities. For nighttime camping activities without a fire, Kampgrounds of America recommends a night walk, flashlight tag and stargazing.

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Winter Camping Activities

On a cold weather trip, you’ll need more than just winter camping gear. Winter camping activities are different too. Snow and ice make some summer camping activities impossible.

Instead, make snowmen, build snow forts or have a snowball fight. If the ice is thick enough, go ice skating or ice fishing, or play a game of hockey. Many running and hiking trails are open to cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. And some areas may even have snowmobiling, sledding or downhill skiing and snowboarding nearby.

Mikayla Borchert
Mikayla is an assistant editor for Family Handyman, specializing in indoor and outdoor gardening, organization and décor. She has one cat and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, she likes running, skiing, hiking and tending her balcony garden.