What are Your Favorite Family Camping Activities?

mountain-streamAs the year draws to a close, I’m looking forward to all the great camping trips we have planned for the coming year and I wonder what new experiences are in store for us. I don’t know if we’re disorganized or just easy going, but we never have a pre-planned agenda, when we head-off on our outdoor excursions. If we spend an afternoon skipping rocks across a stream or hiking some backcountry trail, everybody is having a pretty good time (okay, my younger two are probably whining at the two-mile mark, if we’re hiking!).

bald-eagleOne thing that we all like to do is look for different kinds of wildlife. It’s one thing to look at pictures of bald eagles online, or in a book, but to actually see them in the wild is a special treat for us. We are fortunate, here in northern California, to have access to an abundant range of wildlife. It’s not uncommon for us to spot deer on our hikes, even in the middle of the afternoon.

When we are camping at the beach, the kids will even be motivated to get up early and trek down to the beach in order to see the seals fishing in the surf and the dolphins feeding just offshore.


campfire-smoreMealtimes are always a bit special in the backcountry, even when it’s something simple like hamburgers and baked beans. On hikes, I can usually coax another mile out of my young ones with yogurt-covered raisins or trail mix, which is special to them since they don’t get that at home. S’mores or popcorn is a special treat that, of course, the kids really enjoy.

The ability to have a campfire is probably the single biggest reason that we tend to camp in campgrounds, instead of dispersed camping on federal land. The campfire is always the center of activity when we are camping, whether its s’mores or an game of Uno®. In some of the places we camp, an early evening campfire is almost essential to keep the mosquitoes at bay!

What are some of your favorite camping activities?

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16 thoughts on “What are Your Favorite Family Camping Activities?

  1. My kids are grown up now so Ill just have to be patient and wait for the dya when I can go camping with my grandchildren.
    Camping with kids is great fun.. they just love to investigate things in the natural environment and if there is water nearby its almost always guaranteed that we will all get wet in one way or another.

    Let the kids get involved and take reponsibility for various tasks and your camping experience with kids will be wonderful. Fun all the way!

  2. My favorite things are canoeing, playing guitar and singing around the campfire with friends and just seeing new places. I do the same thing as far as just heading out sometimes with no agenda…That was how I found the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive in North Carolina and Virginia. When we were camping off of Skyline Drive, we woke up in the morning with 4 deer right outside the tent. It was pretty awesome.

    • That sounds like a great time, Scott. My oldest is learning to play the guitar right now – I wonder if we’ll be singing around the campfire this year?

    • Oh I remember one camping trip many years ago. The site was in Eskdale in the Lake District UK and it was tents only. Dotted around the site were places where campfires could be lit. On one of our weeks stay, several families met each evening and brought food for the fire (and drinks of course).. and one of the teenagers played his guitar to us as we all sang along to some great Oasis songs.. memories ahhh

  3. Haven’t braved camping with my two kiddos yet (5 yo & 19 months), but plan to do so this spring or summer. We did have s’mores over our portable fire pit in the backyard recently. Gotta start somewhere! 🙂

  4. I’m in the planning mode for the up coming year too. Over the winter I work on recipes for the campground and backpacking. I really enjoy my dutch ovens. I have my grandchildren hiking with me. They are 8 and 5. The younger one only hikes for snacks that we have every two miles. It takes all day, but we get it done. Then when we get home they can’t wait for the next trip. I’m inspired now. Let’s get outside.

    • Dan – your younger one sounds just like my 5-year old 🙂 Got to have plenty of trail mix (with M&Ms) to keep him going!

  5. Camping is about basics to me. A simple hike or some card and board games are a big hit with the kids. Anything much more makes it far less camping. Fishing is also another one that you just can’t go wrong doing

    • My younger ones aren’t into hiking much (yet!), but my 9-year old will hike anywhere with me. In fact, Monday’s post is about a hike we did on Christmas Eve. We usually break out the Uno cards at night, unless we’re having s’mores (don’t want to get the cards all messy).

  6. We like to play kubb when we go camping. It’s a game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them. It can be simply described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. Way fun and even our 4 yr old can play it.

    • Thanks, Nancy! It’s been quite a year – have a great Christmas and a happy new year!

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