Simple outdoor activities for kids while camping
Happy kids are healthy kids and there’s nothing a child enjoys more than being at play. Keeping your kids happy and healthy is what summer camping trips are all about. Arranging fun, exciting outdoor activities for them to enjoy should be a big part of spending time together, away from the usual distractions of your everyday lives.
Studies have shown that children who spend a lot of time playing outdoors are better-adjusted, in social groups as well as at home. They are also generally fitter than those who don’t, with stronger immune systems, thanks to healthy doses of Vitamin D, provided by the sun.
Camping trips ‘en famille’ are an awesome way to spend quality time together and create plenty of opportunities for bonding and re-establishing connections, away from the stresses and strains of everyday life in urban environments. Scheduling outdoor activities for kids on these trips is an opportunity to make even happier and healthier occasions. Depending on location and resources, you could create an itinerary of games and projects, or just go with the flow and invent games on the spot using whatever props are at hand. Just remember, it’s all about having fun together.
Top Outdoor Activities for Kids
Make an activity jar with ideas in it for ways to have stimulating fun outdoors. Here are some suggestions:
Games for thrills
Kids have enjoyed playing games since the dawn of time! Balloon volleyball and Tag always mean squeals of delight, especially if you have younger kids. Red Light, Green Light is an old standard that never fails to please.
Active games for spills
Football skills are great for increasing dexterity and a fabulous way for all the family to burn off energy on a camping trip. Building a makeshift obstacle course in your campsite, to negotiate a ball around using only your feet is a sure-fire way to generate excitement and competitive spirit.
Projects for participation and engagement
Another great outdoor activity for kids is to involve them in “grown-up” projects. Planting trees and litter clean-up are ways to foster and encourage respect for their environment, which can become a lifelong pursuit.
Arts and crafts
Using paints and crayons to decorate rocks and seashells are other projects to exercise kids’ creative juices. Creating crafts using pebbles, sticks, paper and cardboard are great for focus and can later be displayed at school. Take a few photos or short videos for everyone to review together after dinner or before bed.
Fun activities involving water
Kids are naturally drawn to water, which makes sense considering our human biology, so including a few water-based activities will be a winner. If you’re camping close to water, bring some squirt guns or a pack of balloons, separate into teams and get set for an epic family battle every kid will love. If you are nowhere near water, bubble solution and giant wands are pretty much guaranteed to thrill any kid at any age.
Fun activities involving nature
Select camping locations with plenty of paths suitable for scavenger hunts and bug hunts. These are among the most popular outdoor activities for kids, to generate interest in and appreciation of nature and wildlife.
Shoreline adventures and beyond
Nature walks are great for collecting shells and pebbles near the shore, or interesting rocks further inland. Building sandcastles and mud pies are cherished activities for kids that have endured over time. Stargazing at night is a lovely calming way for the family to end any day of adventure.
Exciting mental challenges
Theories and studies suggest that kids who spend time engaging in outdoor activities have improved brain function and are better able to focus on tasks at hand. You can put these theories to the test by coming up with some exciting mental challenges, that can be as imaginative as needed for the ages of your kids. I Spy and Charades are two of the most classic guessing games to exercise the mental muscles of children and you can throw in twists or variations of your own invention to keep things interesting.
Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids
To get the most benefits from your list of outdoor activities for kids consider these pointers:
Age-appropriate games and activities
If your kids vary in age, it’s important to make sure you select games that are age appropriate so that no one is excluded. Bend the rules to accommodate younger players if necessary. You should also make sure that areas are safe for certain games to prevent injuries.
Add some variety and colour
Kids love colours and the brighter the better, so make sure you’ve got some bright paints, crayons or paper to add some sparkle to the activities on your list. Also, consider that variety is the spice of life, so compile a good assortment and range of outdoor activities to combat boredom.
Rewards and incentives
We all know that rewards and incentives are important to recognise a job well done at school or at home. They are also great for showing kids that doing well in outdoor activities or displaying good sportsmanship doesn’t go unrecognised. Creating a team/individual immunity object as a limited time exemption from particular camping chores, or establishing king/queen for the day honours, with added treats, are a couple of ideas to consider.
Don’t be afraid to get dirty
Don’t be afraid to let the kids get a bit dirty when it comes to outdoor activities. Sometimes giving it their all results in a bit of mess and that’s fine as long as there’s great fun all around. This is especially relevant for tree-planting projects, clean-up drives and anything involving paints and colours or dirt and mud.
It’s quite alright to relax the rules when you’re off on your camping trip and engaging in family activities outdoors with kids. This can apply to just about anything from bedtime curfews to rules regarding amusements. The rule of thumb is fun and relaxation as a family unit, so cut yourselves a bit of slack, so everyone can enjoy the novelty of time spent together to the full.
Recommendations for your Outdoor Activities with Kids
Further hints and tips to consider before getting started on your trip.
Are outdoor activities for kids truly beneficial?
Encouraging their kids to put down their devices and get outside for some quality playtime is one of the most beneficial things a parent can do. Playing outdoors improves balance and co-ordination in children, besides the obvious benefits to their physical fitness. It has also been shown that kids who spend time outdoors have increased brain function, healthier immune systems and improved social behaviours.
How long should outdoor activities with kids last?
This depends on the age and overall physical fitness of your children. Factors such as weather (hot sun or rain) can also influence the type and duration of activities. But, as a rule, limit your game activity to an hour or so, followed by a break, or alternate the running around with other games so kids can catch their breath and recover. You’ll be able to tell by kids’ behaviour if energy levels start to flag sooner than that, or if fatigue or boredom sets in, and that’s your cue for a break.
What types of paint, chalk or crayons are best for outdoor activities?
If you’re shopping for these sorts of items, always select non-toxic and water-based products for your outdoor activities and projects involving kids. Water-based products are erased by rainfall and non-toxic products are safer for the environment due to their non-pollutant properties. You can find these products online.
Should I spend a lot of money on outdoor activities for kids?
It is not necessary to spend a lot on outdoor activities for kids. Paints, paper and other items are very inexpensive and anything else you require should be available at home and packed for the holiday, with a bit of advance activity planning. Ingenuity doesn’t cost anything, so if you feel tempted to overspend take some time to research and think of creative alternatives that won’t break the bank.
Is bouldering dangerous for kids?
If your camping site has a bouldering wall, there should be safety procedures in place for it. Experts suggest bouldering is a safe activity for children aged four and older, but this all depends on the physical fitness of the child and how high the wall is, so use your discretion and common sense at all times.