How To Choose the Best Camping Games

Photo: Austin Trigg/ TandemStock

What’s more fun than just camping? Camping with games, of course.

Being gathered outside and unplugged is the ideal time for some structured competition. And a campsite is the perfect setting for classic backyard, card, and adventure games, whether you’re with friends or family. Here are 15 go-to games and outdoor diversions, optimized for camp play.

Throwing & Rolling Games

There are quite a few versions of the ever-popular tossing game, all of which involve throwing or rolling something at a target. All of them are fun, ideal for campsite play, and a hit with kids. In many cases, you can take the same version of a game that you’d use in your backyard. But lighter, more compact versions are often available, making them easier to pack and carry.

1. Cornhole

One of the classic tossing games, a cornhole set includes two slanted boards with a hole near the top and beanbags for two teams to toss. 

2. Ladder Toss

This version of the throwing contest (also called ladder ball) has players toss bolos at a three-tiered ladder, earning more points for the more difficult rungs to hook.

3. Ring Toss

In this favorite carnival game, players throw lightweight rings at a series of posts. You can buy a complete set (many include an X-shaped frame with several posts), or just buy the rings and set up bottles or cans as targets.

4. Horseshoes

Go for a ringer: Toss horseshoes at a distant post. Here’s one game that’s definitely worth seeking out in a lightweight version: Plastic or rubber horseshoes travel much better than heavy metal ones.

5. Bocce

Win this game by rolling your balls closer to the pallino ball than your opponents. Typical bocce balls are heavy, so a lightweight set is a great choice for camping. 

6. Frisbee

Make things competitive with a mini disc golf set, or keep it casual by just tossing the Frisbee around. Bonus fun: Get a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee and keep playing when the sun goes down.

7. Yard Bowling

Knock down as many pins as possible, reset, and repeat.

8. Kubb

This peculiar Nordic lawn game involves strategy plus the fun of tossing wooden batons to knock down your opponents setup. Most importantly, it packs up well and can be played on almost any terrain.

Two women play cards and enjoy a fire while car camping along the Salmon River near Stanley. Idaho. Photo: Ben Herndon/TandemStock

Tent & Picnic Table Games

Maybe it’s raining, or maybe you’re just looking for something low-key: Cards and board games for the win! These games are great for adults and older kids.

9. Outdoor Chess and/or Checkers

Your everyday set will work fine, but an outdoor-specific game with magnetic pieces helps prevent losing pawns in the dirt. You can also find huge versions of the game board—great fun to spread out at the campsite.

10. Cards

There’s no end to the games you can play with a standard deck of cards. But don’t forget particularly kid-friendly games like Uno, Old Maid, and Go Fish.

11. Bananagrams

This popular word game already comes in a compact zippered case—perfect for camping or even backpacking. 

Exploring Games

These next-level games are favorites for older kids, but that’s not to say a group of adults wouldn’t do well to start one up in camp, either. 

12. Capture the Flag

Each team hides a flag somewhere within its territory, then players try to find the other team’s without being tagged into “jail.” First team to capture the opponents’ flag and carry it back to their territory wins. A summer camp classic, Capture the Flag is high-energy fun.

13. Scavenger Hunt

Draw up a list of items—pine cone, blooming cactus, bluebird, etc.—and send teams out to find as many as they can.

14. Flashlight Tag

In this after-dark version of tag, the person who’s “it” tags the other players by shining a flashlight (or headlamp) on them. 

15. Slackline

If you’ve got a pair of larger trees (at least 3 feet in circumference), a slackline kit can provide endless entertainment for kids and adults to explore their own balance and agility, walking the taut line rigged up just a few feet off the ground. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.