If your family likes to camp, you’ve probably already done most of the standard activities with your kids – nature walks, swimming, horseshoes – you name it! Here are a few less obvious activities, you may not have tried yet.
Look for Lost Treasure
My aunt used to make up the best treasure hunts. Rather than just drawing a map and giving us kids one shot at finding it, she would set up a chain of clues that lead to the prize.
The game was on when one of us found a note with instructions on where to unearth the next clue. Aunt Marilyn was a teacher, so she sometimes liked to add an educational twist to the clues. It might be something like, “stand in front of the car, then turn left and go 4+8-3 steps…”
Another variation on this theme is the nature scavenger hunt. The more descriptive your list of items is the better. For example “find something slimy,” just sounds a lot more fun than “find a worm” (and who knows what you may get).
Fun with Water Balloons
There’re all kinds of fun things you can do with water balloons on a camping trip. Of course, you either have to be at a camp ground with a faucet or you have to prepare in advance. One of the best things about introducing water bombs is they’ll really cool the kids off on a hot summer day.
You can go with a traditional water balloon fight, although, if you want to redirect the kids’ aggressions to something other than each other, water balloon piñatas are a great alternative. Fill the balloons with water, tie them off, and hang them from a tree, a pole or whatever’s handy. Give the kids a stick and let them have at it.
We also used to play water balloon toss. You break into teams of two. The participants form two lines with members of the same team facing each other. Those in one line have water balloons. On a signal they toss their balloons to their partners, who try to catch them. Keep tossing the balloons back and forth until all but one have popped. For advanced players give both team members water balloons and have them exchange them across the gap.
If you really want to get fancy, make water balloon eggs in advance by filling balloons with water, and then pushing small plastic toys into the balloon with the water. Freeze them. You’ll need a cooler to transport them to the camp site. Pull them out about 2:00 in the afternoon when everyone is just about ready to have a heat stroke.
You don’t want the kids throwing these at each other, though. Cut open the balloon and give one to each kid. Let them play amateur archaeologist, digging the toys out of the egg with a plastic spoon or other simple implement. If you fill the balloons with plastic dinosaurs, you can challenge the kids to name their finds once they get them out of the eggs.
Go on a Geological Excursion
Of course the success of this type of game depends on the terrain. In East Texas we primarily liked to look for fossils and petrified wood, but you can hunt for all different kinds of rocks. It helps to familiarize yourself with the geology of the area in advance, so the kids will think you’re really smart when you can identify all the specimens they find.
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