During the day, it is pretty easy to find things to do with your kids while you are camping. Whether you’re at a lake campground or on a hike, there are so many things that you can and need to do. There are things that you have to do like making food and setting up camp that takes time and can be a fun experience for kids. And of course, exploring nature, fishing, swimming or learning outdoors skills are always fun things to do with kids when the sun is shining.
But what about when the sun goes down and your kids are still not tired? What are you going to do without the electronics that they are used to having when time is moving a little slower?
There are still tons of things to do even when the day is nearing an end. Here is a list of my favorite camping activities that I’ve done with my kids or have done myself as a kid.
There is absolutely nothing better than a good old snipe hunt in the middle of the night. You will need to gauge your kids’ tolerance for scary situations before you go all out on this, however. The last thing you want is for your kids to be staying up all night because they are scared out of their minds.
I was first introduced to snipe hunting at a girls camp when I was 12 years old, which is a pretty good age for an all out scare fest. The older girls at the camp explained to us youngsters that a snipe is a medium sized bird, about the same size and shape as a raven or a crow. There are some key differences though; a snipe has red eyes that glow in the dark and it can spit poison on you.
Now, if I was smart, I’d probably just flat out question why we would even want to be hunting these creepy birds in the first place.
But I wasn’t smart. And I was deliciously scared half to death. It was amazing.
So how it’s done is, you give your kids nets or ropes or whatever tools you want to equip them with to hunt the snipes. And then you are secretly armed with a laser pointer and a squirt gun. Take them along a trail in the dark and from time to time shine the laser pointer or squirt their ankles with the squirt gun. You can choose how far you take this and if you ever reveal to them or not if these mysterious birds are real.
Is it a little mean? Maybe. Is it an unforgettable rite of passage? Oh, heck yeah.
If your kids are maybe not huge fans of a thrilling activity like a snipe hunt, you can never go wrong with a little star gazing. Being away from cities and light pollution makes camping an ideal spot to find all your favorite constellations. You might want to bring a star chart for that month so you can spot some of the lesser known constellations more easily or spot any planets if possible.
One helpful tip for finding planets is to look at how they twinkle. Stars will have a faint flicker to them while planets will have constant reflecting light.
S’mores are always an amazing camping treat, but sometimes you might want to branch out a little bit if you’ve had them a lot. One equally easy and amazing dessert is a banana boat. Here’s how to make one:
- Cut a banana lengthwise keeping the peel intact
- Stuff the banana with toppings such as marshmallows, chocolate or white chips, peanut butter, or graham cracker crumbs
- Wrap the banana with foil and stick it on the coals of a campfire for about five to ten minutes
- Carefully pull it out with tongs or sticks
- Let it cool for a few minutes and carefully unwrap the foil
- Eat the melted, gooey banana and toppings with a spoon
Singing And Stories
One of the best things about camping with your family is that it gets everyone talking. There are no distractions. There are no homework deadlines or last minute conference calls for work. It’s just you, nature, and your family. There is no better way to connect with the fam then to be out in the wild together.
If anyone in your family is musical, make a nightly ritual of singing some of your favorite songs, whether it be lullabies, rock songs, or some of your old camp callback favorites. You get bonus points if you play guitar.
If singing isn’t quite your thing, you can still have a fun evening around the fire telling stories. If your kids are little, you might want to stick to Goldilocks, Aesop’s Fables, or retelling some of their favorite Disney movies.
If your kids are a bit older, there is something so chilling and exciting about telling ghost stories in the dark. Take turns telling some of your favorites, just be prepared to lay awake all night long thinking about them.
Midnight Swims or Polar Dips
If you are camping somewhere with a lake, one of the most fun things you can do is go swimming when no one is in the water. Kids get a kick out of doing something out of the ordinary and swimming in the dark will be something they will never forget.
You’ll be able to see the stars from a vantage point that no one else usually will and the clearing of a lake will make them all the more visible.
If your kids are young, swimming in the dark could be too dangerous. Instead, consider doing a polar dip with them early in the morning. There’s nothing that will get your blood pumping more than a quick dip in a freezing cold lake.
What are some of your favorite camping activities with kids? Have you ever tried any of the above?