10 Family-Friendly Activities While Camping
(even if – right now – your campground is just your backyard or living room)
What better time to get outside and start exploring than summertime in the Northwoods? A child of any age (both the young and the young at heart) can appreciate the joy of taking a walk in nature – whether that be from your campsite or your own backyard. Bring a pen and paper along for the journey and make notes of any wildlife or plants that you discover!
Spending time outside and in nature is a great time to teach your children about different plants and animals. If you catch a glimpse of a bald eagle, you can explain the difference between protected and endangered species, as well as ways to respect animals in their natural habitats. Teach them how to identify poisonous plants such as poison ivy and wild sumac. Pictured below is wild sumac on the left and poison ivy on the right. Remember, “Leaves of three, let it be!” You can find additional resources for identifying poisonous plants HERE.
Fishing is a great way to pass the time and it teaches valuable life lessons that your child will use in all walks of life… namely patience! If you’re near a lake or river, teach your loved ones how to bait a hook, cast a line and how to patiently wait for a fish to take a bite.
If you’re currently staying at home and practicing social distancing, you could always go “fishing” in your backyard. Now is the perfect time to teach your child how to cast a line. Just tie a weight to the end of your pole and work on your casts. If your kids are younger, create a “lake” by being creative and using a kiddie pool, plastic fish, and a couple of magnets.
Campfire Songs and Stories
Whether you’re telling spooky stories around the fire or singing happy campfire songs – these two activities can be done just about anywhere. Do the Hokey Pokey! Belt your heart out to Camptown Races; or if you’re looking for some inspiration, read them one of these fun campfire stories that are sure to please! Looking for a list of songs? We found a great compilation HERE. These activities can be done around a real campfire or a makeshift one in your living room.
Everybody loves S’mores! There’s nothing quite like roasting marshmallows over an open flame surrounded by family and friends. Your children will love it! All you need is a box of graham crackers, milk chocolate, and large marshmallows – as well as something to roast them with.
Can’t make a fire wherever you are? If you have access to a microwave or an oven you could always “roast” your marshmallows using what you have available. Spice things up a bit by adding sprinkles, peanut butter, and/or any other toppings that you and your children would enjoy.
Now that spring is upon us, a large variety of waterfowl and other migratory birds are returning to the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Does your child know what a robin looks like? How about the defining characteristics of a Blue Jay? Or the difference between a chickadee and a sparrow? Now is the perfect time to start teaching your children about the different kinds of birds and the sounds they make. The best part? You can do it from your living room window. Just grab a pair of binoculars and a notepad then get to birding!
Star Gazing & Cloud Watching
If the weather allows for it, spread a blanket on the ground and cast your gaze upon the sky. What does that cloud look like? Can you see the Milky Way? If the skies are clear, you are sure to find a sky full of entertainment! It is a creative way to get your kids thinking about the world in a totally different light. There are even smartphone apps that you can download to help you spot the different constellations with just your naked eye. If you have access to a telescope, you can dig even deeper into space by getting a view fo the different planets in our solar system. You might learn a little something, yourself!
Paint Rocks and Make Leaf Prints
Get creative! If you find some interesting-looking leaves and/or rocks grab a paintbrush and get to painting, or get a pencil and a piece of paper to make leaf imprints. Challenge your children by asking if they identify what type of tree the leaf/leaves came from.
Did somebody say, “Flashlight Tag”?
Do you remember playing this as a child? All you need is a flashlight and a couple of players willing to run around and hide in the dark! It is essentially a combination of hide-and-seek and tag! Rules can vary, but the main objective is to have one person be “it” and that person must find their friends/family with a flashlight in the dark! I’ve been reading and it looks like there are a TON of flashlight games you can play. For more ideas of creative ways to entertain your children with just the dark and a flashlight, click HERE.
Make Shadow Puppets
The ancient art of shadow puppets is something that both children and adults will enjoy. This form of storytelling is the oldest form of puppetry known to man and is still done outside of tents and off of walls. You can simply use your hand to create a dog or a butterfly, or you could take it a step further and cut out flat figures and shapes so that you can tell a whole story. This would be a fun craft to make during the day and then you can put on the presentation for the whole family that night.
Bring Out Ol’ Faithful
When in doubt, bring out your secret weapon. Anybody up for a game of charades? Camping games are fun for all ages! From Uno to Hearts, to Yahtzee! and Monopoly – there are hundreds of games to choose from, you just have the find the ones that suit your family best.