5 Ideas for Games to Play While Camping

By Christine Bartsch

Friendly fun and games around the campfire

5 Ideas for Games to Play While Camping

One of the beauties of camping is the unplugged downtime to enjoy all nature has to offer, such as hiking, swimming, boating and geocaching. After the daytime fun is done, it’s time to cozy up around the fire with your camp-mates for s’mores, ghosts stories and games. On your next camping trip, pitch your tent and take your pick from these original and twist-on-traditional games.

1) Sing-along showdown

Are you a sing-along champion who knows dozens of campfire songs by heart? The campfire sing-along is a time-honored camping tradition that makes for a challenging game when you add in the element of competition. To play, one player begins by singing a verse of their favorite folk song. As the first player sings the final word of the verse, a second player sings a verse of another song, starting on the note the first player finishes on. The singing goes on in turn until a player cannot think of another verse to sing.

As the starting pitch varies based on the last song sung, a player may find the verse they’re singing becomes too high or low for them to sing. Any player who cannot sing every note of their song or who forgets the words of their verse is eliminated. Need to amp up the challenge? Require all players to sing along with the person who’s up – it’s trickier to think of your next verse while you’re singing along to another song! If your camp-mates don’t know enough golden oldies to keep the game going, simply expand the acceptable repertoire to include show tunes, radio hits or any song.

2) W5 (a.k.a. Who? What? When? Where? Why?)

Stretch your creativity and exercise your acting chops with an improv game that challenges players to guess hilarious scenarios acted out by fellow camp-mates. All you need are pens, paper and a lot of imagination. To begin, ask each player to write down two or more crazy suggestions for each of the five basic questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why. Collect all the suggestions by category, mixing the whens, whys and so forth in separate containers.

A group of two or three campers then draws one slip from each container until they have a complete scenario to act out for the remaining camp-mates. For example, the actors might draw: Who – ballerinas; What – drag racing; When – 1930s; Where – a bakery and Why – to save the world. The players must continue acting out their scene until the audience has guessed all five of their Ws correctly. If you don’t have paper and pen, simply send a few campers out of earshot as the rest decide on a scenario to act out around the fire until the players correctly guess all five Ws.

3) Campground scavenger (or forest foragers)

Keep the game-playing going during the day with this twist on a traditional scavenger hunt designed to help players learn all about nature’s wonders. To prepare, all you need to do is create a list of all the various flora, fauna and geological specimens you’re likely to spy while hiking. Give each small group of explorers a copy of the list and challenge them to find and photograph as many items as they can before returning to camp by a set deadline. Whichever group has correctly identified and photographed the most items wins!

If you happen to be staying at a campground that allows foraging, up the ante by awarding extra points to players who forage edible samples, such as herbs and safe-to-eat mushrooms. Once the game is done, use the foraged ingredients to add flair and flavor to your campfire cooking.

4) Alphabet improv

This improv acting game challenges campers to complete a scene using dialogue in alphabetical order. Gameplay begins with audience members shouting out elements of a scene for two or more campers to act out, such as acrobats cooking on a ship. One actor starts the scene with a line of dialogue that starts with the letter A, such as “Adam, hand me that saffron.” The second actor must then respond with a line of dialogue that starts with B: “Better not over-salt that salmon.”

Taking turns, the next actor up would continue with dialogue starting with C: “Can’t you see I’m too busy tumbling?” Any player that skips a letter or starts a sentence with an incorrect letter is eliminated. All players able to continue the scene until the final line of dialogue starting with Z win the round. Players continue acting out scenes in rounds until the last mistake-free player wins the game.

5) Two things balloon bop

Get to know your fellow campers’ secrets and achievements with this interactive icebreaker game. Before play begins, provide each player with two balloons, two slips of paper and a pen. Each player writes one fact about themselves on each of paper: an accomplishment on one and one quirk or funny anecdote on the other that no one present knows about them. Players then place one slip into each balloon, then inflate and tie off each balloon.

Gather up all balloons and mix them together so no one knows whose is whose. Select one balloon from the bunch and bop it back and forth among the campers until someone misses, and it hits the ground. The player who missed then pops the balloon, pulls out the paper and attempts to guess which camper wrote the note. Keep playing until all the balloons have been popped. If your fellow camp-mates are too good at bopping the balloons, simply play music during the game play. The last player to have hit the balloon when the music stops gets to pop it. Just be careful when playing near a campfire to ensure the heat doesn’t pop the balloon, and no camper gets burned.

About the Author

A former art instructor, high school counselor and party planner, Christine Bartsch writes fashion, travel, interior design, education and entertainment content. Bartsch earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communications/psychology/fine arts from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a creative writing Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University. She's written scripts for film/television productions and worked as the senior writer at a video game company.