Wondering How to Keep Boredom from Invading Your Campground? Try These Fun Camping Games for Adults!
Face it. Camping trips mostly ebb and flow for adults, who often face the challenge of what to do next in the great outdoors.
First, you busily set up camp. You prepare the ground for your tent, pitch the tent, set up camp stools, prepare the fire ring or pit and perhaps string a line for hanging wet gear and other items. You might even tie a canopy from tree to tree for some protection should it rain.
Then, you gasp and catch your breath—only to encounter a big zilch—the dead time. You end up just sitting on the camp stool and just gazing about or lying inside your tent with a book or game on your handheld that you would normally play while on a bus or waiting in a line back home.
Instead of wondering what your next move will be, why not integrate some camping games into your outdoor experience? Especially games in which everyone at camp can participate and perhaps learn something new.
You can even bring a little bit of home with you when it comes to some outdoor camping games. A little twist can be added to old-time faves at home that suddenly become a participatory adventure in the wild. Try some of the following ideas for starters.
Nighttime & Campfire Games for Adults
Who says games can’t be educational? Especially in the outdoors. Nature provides a perfect classroom for some fun activities that the four walls at home simply can’t replicate.
A biological twist on the old standby—charades—botanical charades provide a learning experience in which everyone at camp can participate without taking the time to learn the rules of a less familiar game.
You start botanical charades by sending each camper into the surrounding forest to find a leaf, cone, berry or other item that falls from a tree.
All of you return while hiding the item under a shirt, jacket or inside a cap. Keep it well concealed while throwing it into a camp bag or pillow case held by designated bag-holder in camp.
Said bag-holder then shakes the container and brings the bag to each camper, who reaches in and takes an item out without others seeing the item.
The person holding the bag pulls out the final item in it while also keeping it concealed from all the others.
Each then takes their turn at gesturing, mimicking and hinting about the identity of the hidden item in their keep.
As a backup, just in case the identity of the item finds some disagreement, bring a regional plant and tree guidebook with you to serve as a referee of sorts.
This is best after allowing each tenter at least one night of slumber before playing. In short, let everyone get settled in at camp. It is also best if all of you know one another fairly well—such as familiar camping pals. This game is not for the overly sensitive.
Nighttime is usually the right time for this because it is the time when you aren’t out fishing, day hiking or swimming. It can certainly be played during an otherwise ho-hum day, however.
Before announcing the rules to everyone, instruct a person to zip up every tent and pull or zip down the exterior flaps. You can choose this person by drawing straws or by picking the last person to sit by the fire ring. This way, all campers are out of their respective tents.
Then, give each person a twig for each tent (three twigs for three tents, four for four tents and so on). Try to select these twigs from the ground rather than ravaging a tree—for the sake of preservation. Each twig must be thin and long enough to break into four pieces by hand. In the order that each person sat down around the fire, everyone then proceeds tent to tent to unzip the flaps and look inside.
At the first tent, the campers rate the occupier’s sloppiness (from 1 to 4) by breaking one twig into the number that fits the sloppiness—i.e., leave it intact for a sloppiness rating of one (not sloppy at all) or break it into four pieces for extremely sloppy. Two pieces is slightly sloppy and three is noticeably sloppy. Repeat this procedure for each tent while leaving each person’s ratings (twigs) in front of the previous tent.
When all twigs and tent inspections are exhausted, count the number of broken and intact twigs in front of each tent. The tent with the most twigs is declared the “animal house.”
The owner of the animal house is then delegated the next camp task, such as refilling water bottles, starting the logs on the fire, collecting the loose trash around the campsite or washing dishes. If the task requires two, let the second worse animal house owner help.
Outdoor Truth or Dare
Nearly as old as hide-and-go-seek, this game can be tailored to an outdoor theme around the campfire at night. As you may guess, it is all about sharing your own truth with everyone around the fire, but it must be related to the outdoors and relate to a commonly derived question from all campers.
For example, as a group you make up a few questions or more. One could be, “How many times have you gotten lost in the woods?” Another might be, “What is your darkest, deepest secret moment around a campsite or even at summer camp as a kid?” (Though this kind of question might, again, be best if you know each other well.) You and your camp mates can come up with as many different kinds of questions as you like, as long as all are related to the outdoors.
Dares can be kind of fun. If you all believe one person is stretching the truth, you can assign them the task of dowsing the fire when everyone else beds down in their tents. Another less-than-desirable task might be a dare in the shape of sorting recyclables from the general trash bag at camp or finding firewood for the next campfire. This dare or task is almost a sure bet to bring out the truth if firewood collecting is prohibited at the campground and the person getting the wood must find a store to buy it.
Camping Games for Adults in and around Water
Good Ol’ Skipping Stones
If you happen to be camping along side a placid lake or even a river with a long pool, hold a contest of who can get the most skips out of a rock. Of course, find the flattest rocks possible and take turns.
The winner does not have to help with cooking the day’s meal and the loser gets to clean the fish if you have an angler or two among you. In short, think of any camp task that fits for last place and eliminate a task for the winner. Better yet, offer to cook the winner’s camp dinner that night.
Speaking of fishing
Do all or most of your camp buddies like to fish? Hold a derby. Again, think of the kind of aforementioned loser’s tasks and, similarly, campground rewards for the winner.
To add some frosting to the cake—and a little education—ask each of your camp mates to repeat one of your state’s fishing regulations.
What’s the legal limit on trout? What kind of bait is prohibited? When is the general opening day for fishing?
Who can last the longest?
This one especially applies to early season camping, as in spring, or late-season, as in fall. In both cases the water can get quite chilly. If you’re camping at very high altitudes, you need not worry about the season; the water will be perpetually cold.
All of you jump into the water, but choose the bank as your launching pad. Jumping immediately into very cold water over your head can actually be risky. Someone might develop a cramp and get into trouble. Perhaps one of your camp mates can’t swim very well. You get the ugly picture.
Each camper submerges themselves up to their shoulders and stays submerged as long as they can. Make sure you have towels stationed on the bank to immediately dry off, and perhaps a dry shirt and shorts, to avoid developing a serious chill.
If the weather suddenly turns windy and damp, you can risk some serious developments, such as hypothermia. Be smart about cold water.
Name that water creature
If camping near lake or stream, send each camper out with cellphone or camera to take a picture of a creature on or in the water. Herons, turtles, frogs, ducks, geese, loons, salamanders, grebes, a trout or perch in shallow water and otters are just some examples.
During one of those dead spells around camp, share the images and see who is the first person to shout out the species of featured creature. Depending on the type of creature, you can even require identification of its gender.
Be realistic though. For instance, a turtle is a tough call, but a bird quite easy.)
Athletic Outdoor Games for Adults
As you might guess, you need some props to set up some field events for this one. Try bringing as many obstacles and such as possible in your rig while improvising at the campsite for any others you need.
Though a space consumer in the vehicle, a corn-hole setup proves easy competition for anyone. To conserve some space, bring a ready to assemble blongo (the three-rung frame and two balls attached to a cord that is thrown at the rungs in hopes it wraps around one of them).
If you love mountain biking, bring some of your bicycles to hold a competition around the entire campground or park as just one of the Campground Olympic events.
Not exactly athletic but some physical skill required? Bring along some yard-long, sanded and smooth trim board—the kind about 1-1/2 or 2 inches wide and a half-inch deep. Tuck some regular-sized marbles alongside them in the car. Keep score of how many times each of you can let go of the marble atop the board well enough for it to roll all the way down.
Some nature-made ideas? See who reaches the top of a nearby hill first or who can swim fastest across a small pond, tarn or pool should a lake or slow-moving river be near your campsite. Set a time limit and see who can come back out of the woods with the largest leaf or flower.
Hand Sand Sprint
This is ideal for campsites near beaches. Set your campsite as the starting mark. Place some of your bigger pans—but all the same size—along a bench, wide log or large, flat rock—whatever available around the campground.
Each person leaves the starting mark (camp) at the same time (i.e., “one, two, three, go!”) toward the sand source. They then clutch as much sand as possible in their hands and run back to camp to dump it into their assigned pan. The first to fill the pan wins. If you lack enough pans of the same size, split up into teams of two. This can actually make it even more fun.
The Challenge of the Day
Of course, any of these aforementioned Campground Olympic events can be used as an athletic competition of the day, rather than clumping them all into 12 hours of daylight or whatever. You get more mileage out of your ideas this way.
Stay dry on your next camping trip with these waterproof tents!
Camping Games for Rainy Weather (inside the Tent)
Like, duh? Cards
Someone invariably brings a deck of cards with them when leaving home for a campout. Choose your favorite theme. Some decks from outdoor organizations include tips on outdoor survival on back of each card.
If you erected a tarp as a canopy at your campsite, you can easily fit a table or makeshift table beneath it and start playing your favorite card game. If you lack a covered space outside and one camper’s tent is large enough, you can huddle inside and play cards on the tent floor. Just figure it out.
Twenty-Five Words or Less
You may recognize the commercial, off-the-shelf game with this moniker, but the beauty of this brain twister is the ability to play it without the gizmos inside a box.
Split up into teams if possible—like two each. A person writes down a word on a small piece of paper that represents an object, action or thing, while one individual or delegate from two different two-person teams steps up to read what the thing or activity is. The teammate of each reader is not allowed to see it.
One reader then begins bargaining with the other reader. “I can use only 10 words to get my teammate to identify this thing.” The other reader might counter with, “I can do it with only six words.” Whoever makes the final claim without the other team member countering, then goes to his or her teammate to see if he or she can say the word without the hinter going beyond the promised number of words.
You can use rhyming words, synonyms or any word that hints of the unseen word—as long as you don’t slip and use the actual hidden word. The person who creates and holds the word serves as referee. This person is usually rotated from those teams not involved at that moment.
This requires a very small space to play, such as in a tent or under a canopy, and can serve to expand everyone’s vocabulary while injecting some fun.
While sitting in a circle, take turns naming a song title, repeating a verse or a book title. Then see who is first to name the famous person behind the popular quote, title or song. If you each bring a cellphone along and can connect with the internet from camp (or store a lot of music on your device), you can restrict this game to music and play just the first couple chords of a song.
Then see who is first to name that tune. This is a game open to the imagination: name the bird or animal sound, name the sound from nature (record a stream running or the kerplunk of a stone hitting the water, for example); listen to the forest or lake around you and see who is the first to recognize the sound of something belonging to nature (besides the splatting of rain).
Also interesting: 15 Cool Camping Hacks You Must Know Before Your Next Camping Trip
Conclusion: Some Prep required
As you can tell from our list of camping game ideas for adults, it is best to think just a little about your camp fun before stepping on the pedal toward your campground destination. Bring the required equipment, gear, materials or props for the games or contests you have in mind.
Bring some guidebooks in case you need verifying resources. If you want, bring some rewards—those you simply can’t find or muster from Mother Nature’s closet.
Most of all, bring your imagination. It will surely fill what otherwise amounts to dead time with some smiles and activity.
You might also like this: Can’t Sleep? How a Weekend of Camping can Reset Your Body Clock