Games can be the perfect way to unwind for a lazy afternoon at your campsite, make a rainy night not so miserable, or satisfy your thirst for adventure when you can’t be out on the trail.
But before you go out and buy each every game you think might entertain your kids this summer (guilty), here are my recommendations for the best camping games for families.
Camping is our favorite summer activity. Find more tips on how to get the whole family out here.
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Best Camping Games for Families
There’s a few things to consider when you’re packing camping games – you’ll want to consider its size, durability, and make sure it’s not the end of the world if you lose a piece (or two). These camping games fit all those criteria (and are fun to play too!)
Growing up, I spent hundreds of hours playing UNO on rainy camping nights. The wilderness edition adds a fun twist. Early elementary school to adults.
Spot It! comes is an easy and fun “I spy” type game with several game variations to keep you from getting bored when playing camping games with your family. It comes in a sturdy tin, and is fun for all ages.
Spot It! comes in several different versions, and I usually have at least one in my car. Check out the waterproof Splash version for extra durability. Check out Spot It! Fishing too. Preschool to adults.
Gamewright makes fantastic games that are easy for young kids to pick up, and are still enjoyable for adults. Sushi Go! is one of our favorites, and great for math practice. Reading skills are not strictly necessary.
Qwirkle’s wooden tiles make it easy to play on a picnic table when you’re camping. No reading skills are necessary, and it’s a great way to learn about patterns. Early elementary school and up.
Scrabble is not exactly an easy game to take camping, so if you’re a fan of word games, check out Quiddler. A bonus for kids – unlike Scrabble, you aren’t going for long and compliciated words. Quiddler focuses more on short words. Mid elementary school and up.
Mancala is an ancient and timeless game that is quick to learn and relaxing to play. If you lose the pieces do Mancala, don’t worry. A few stones or seashells make easy replacements if you lose them camping. All ages – the core concept is easy for youngsters to pick up, even if strategy will lag a few years behind.
Games to learn about the outdoors
Games are a great way for kids to learn. Here are some our favorite nature-education camping games.
There are Professor Noggin games for virtually every topic. Check out the wildlife, birds, and insects if you want to learn about the fauna around you. Earth science is another option to interest outdoor kids. Reading skills necessary, or adult help.
If you want to learn about fish species, you will love this version of the popular game Camp. Fishing Camp is a straightforward board game with 100 fun facts about the outdoors. Reading skills necessary, or adult help.
This is a print-n-play game, and basically the same format as card game War. But the fun bird facts on each card provide extra entertainment. Reading is not strictly necessary to play the game so it’s acceptable for preschool ages (if they can recognize number values), and readers who want to learn bird facts.
While you probably won’t want to take this one with you camping (there’s lots of little pieces), this Mensa Select winning board game teaches about the life cycle of trees and plants. Upper elementary school to adults.
Wildcraft is an educational board game that teaches about 25 medicinal and edible plants. There’s no reading required, so young players can join in. Preschool and up.
Board Games for When You’d Rather Be Camping with your Family
This is a favorite among board game enthusiasts, campers and non-campers alike. Since none of us are traveling as much as we would want to this summer, this game can help satisfy your wanderlust. Also check out National Parks Trivia by the same creators. Elementary school to adults.
If you are craving s’mores and campfires, check out Toasted or Roasted. Opponents can rain on your campfire, blow it out, or burn your marshmallow. Elementary school and up.
Fluxx is a fast moving card game that comes in several different varieties. The rules change as you play the game! I love the look of the nature version. Upper elementary school to adults.
Shadows in the Forest is a unique game that will have you missing long winter nights. You play in the dark, and use the game’s lantern to find who is hiding in the forest. Elementary school and up.
Camping Games for Families: Eco-Friendly Focus
Of course, we don’t our love of games to hurt the places we love to play them. These are our favorite games from eco-conscious makers.
This is hands down one of my children’s favorite games. It’s a fairly simple cooperative memory game, with only a few plastic pieces. If you have preschoolers who like dinosaurs, they will love this game. Preschool to early elementary schoool.
This completely plastic-free cooperative game is another one of our favorites. As a bonus, kids can learn a few navigational skills, like learning coordinates and building paths. Preschool to early elementary school.
If you want to get kids laughing, and encourage an adventurous spirit, Lion in my Way is fun way to encourage creative problem solving and story-telling. Kids come up with ways to use silly objects to traverse various obstacles. The solutions might not be practical, but they will be fun. Preschool and up.
Camping Games for Families: For the minimalist
As much as my family LOVES board games, sometimes I think that I should have never introduced them to anything beyond a classic deck of cards. After all, there are so many games you can play! If you want to pack light, this book can help you learn plenty of games to keep you busy.
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