With all of the technology available today it is hard to keep anyone’s undivided attention with anything that falls short of “breath-taking” for longer than a few minutes. We are surrounded by constant stimuli bombarding our senses with colors and sounds to the point that finding a long-term focal point is virtually impossible. As an adult, being entertained by something as “common” as nature can be trying at times, imagine what it must be like for a child. When faced with the options of seeing “outside”, with the limited abilities nature shows on the surface or a digital world that someone has created to target and stimulate the part(s) of your brain responsible for joy and excitement, nature barely stands a chance. While electronics and technology can be helpful and worthwhile, if you want to get “back to nature” with your little ones without creating a hostile environment when you take the tech away, you’re going to need to replace the stimuli. You could go the route of “I’m in charge, so they just need to deal with it” but why alienate yourself and take a trip that goes unappreciated because they do not know how to enjoy it. No matter how much you believe that finding fun outside should be automatic, for this generation, it simply is not. Just like you may not understand why or how your kids enjoy tech for so long, they are the same way with being outside. By guiding activities that can be done by the whole family, you are not only teaching kids how much fun “outside” can be, but probably creating memories that will last with them a lifetime and possibly help shape who they grow up to be.

With the constant stress that is life, along with what is added by planning a vacation, it is hard to plan every activity throughout the day as well. To help out with the planning, we have come up with a list of fun games and activities to entertain the younger passengers without boring them back into the hands of their electronic devices.

Hide and Seek

hide and seek

This may seem a little dangerous in the woods, but with the proper safety precautions, most children can enjoy. To begin, find a suitable area around your campsite and bring something (ribbon, caution tape, etc.) to mark off boundaries for the game. If you have children old enough to be by themselves hiding, be sure to set a word or specific sound (whistle, clapping, etc.) that means that it is time to stop hiding, the round is over. Kids can get pretty imaginative, if you do not set an absolute stop word beforehand, they may treat your calling “stop” as a trick to get them to lose, so when setting the “stop word” be sure to let them know if they are still hiding and they hear it, they win. If you have children that you feel are too young to go out solo but not to play the game, pair up. Put one kid per adult and work in teams to find your opponents. Be sure to switch up after a few rounds so they can learn from the techniques of multiple people.

Scavenger Hunt

scavenger hunt

This can be enjoyed by either bringing your own items to find or marking (in a non-permanent way) existing landmarks. If you bring items from home, be sure to have enough for each team to collect one or make it clear they are not to be moved when going over the rules. When creating a list of items to be scavenged, be sure to have a different order for each team, so each team is challenged. Ensure you do not use food as an item to be found, you might attract an animal that poses a threat to your safety. Just like with hide and seek, set a word or sound that indicates it is time to get back to the meeting point. Set a time for everyone to begin heading back that is timed from the farthest item to the meeting point at a casual to slow pace, so you can tell if a team is lost or something has happened. If you are using pre-existing landmarks, a good idea is to put certain letters on what you use to tag it, once all are collected can be unscrambled and made to spell out a word or phrase based on a clue.

Building tools and equipment

Preparing for fishing

This may not be an actual game, but it is a great activity to do with your kids. Teaching / letting them help build tools and equipment to use on the camping trip from what is available in nature can be useful and fun at the same time. Not only are you helping them with gaining greater control of their motor skills and teaching the value and satisfaction you get by building/accomplishing something for yourself, you are also teaching them skills that can be used in a survival situation and creating a great environment for strengthening family bonds (teaching them to make a fishing pole may keep you out of the nursing home for a few extra years lol). Be sure to download some guides on building the tools and vegetation in that area that could be harmful, so it doesn’t end up as a part of your build.

 Family Olympics

Tug-of-war game

On the final day of camping, all of the skills applied in the other activities can be used in the Family Olympics. While you can add events like tug-of-war or a 100-meter dash, you can reuse the other activities from the trip to make up your Olympics. Including an event that each child excelled in with a tie-breaker activity can be sure a good time is had by all without needing to go with the “everyone is a winner” route that devalues what they have accomplished.

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