Camping can be a great way for you or your family to get outside and enjoy nature. It is such a good experience and an excellent way to leave distractions behind, because there is no internet and no schedule. It is a way to reconnect as a family and create fun memories. But, the delight can wear off and then it can become a nightmare when the kids start complaining. You can only sleep in for so long. I like just visiting and talking to, but then it always gets political. That is why I like finding other things to do. What is better than exploring traditional camping fun?
I have seen so many ideas for camping crafts, that I want to go bonkers. If I wanted to craft with my kids, I would do it at home, when the weather is so bad, there is nothing else to do. When I go car-camping or backpacking into the backcountry, I like to plan things that are hands-on, creative, outdoor-related, and interesting. Here are a few activities that are good, old-fashioned fun that anyone from any age can enjoy. **Please note, this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on the link, I might earn a small commission, at no cost to you.
1. Snipe Hunting
If you have ever watched “Up!”, then you know about the elusive Snipe bird. The Snipe is a very rare bird found only in very forested and remote areas. They are an elusive bird, that only comes out at night. If you ever catch a snipe, be sure to take a picture and release it as soon as possible. These birds are purple in color, with orange legs and a bunch of feathers on their head, making the bird look like it has a top knot of sorts. The best way to catch a snipe is to use a pillowcase and the best time to catch snipe is on a moonless night. Snipes are attracted to bright lights and loud noises. We like to use glow sticks, clap our hands, and beat sticks together to attract snipes. Once the bird has come out of hiding, quickly grab him with your pillowcase. Before you go, Snipe Hunting, you should read this article from Cool Green Science. This is always a fun activity for anyone who has never done this before. **No snipes were injured during the research for this article :).
2. Campfire Storytelling
When I was a child, I would go exploring with my friend into the woods. Her dad, who was a boy scout leader, would come with us. One of my favorite things, was when he would tell us stories, myths, and legends. He had a way of telling a story, that made everyone listen. Even as an adult, I still enjoy his stories. My husband likes to tell ghost stories to our kids around the fire and it is always the same story, over and over. But the kids beg him to tell it, so he tells this story about a lady in the lake. Storytelling is a great way to create camping memories, encourage imagination, and a way to share.
You do not have to be a natural storyteller to tell a good story, even though I know lots of people like my Aunt Becka and Uncle Ken, that have people that beg them over and over to “tell me a story”. When camping, I prefer nature and creation stories, but my kids love scary ghost stories for camping. I am not a good verbal storyteller and do better on paper, so I like to read stories from books. You can also tell some of these stories in your own way. Because of how a story can be told from so many different perspectives, that is why storytelling is so unique. You can tell anything from a traditional ghost story to a tall tale, or even try some good cowboy poetry which is perfect for a campfire in the mountains. Here are a few recommendations for stories to read or take inspiration from for your next campfire get-together:
3. Campfire Singing
Singing together as a group can be so much fun. As a teenager, I have fond memories of sitting around a fire at home, on the beach, and also camping, and everyone singing songs along with a guitar. But I don’t play the guitar, so I have to either sing without music or wait until my brother-in-law comes to visit once a year, so I can have someone play the guitar while I sing. I have no rhythm and I can’t carry a tune, but I love singing. This summer, my brother-in-law guy rented a guitar and my brother, who has excellent rhythm, played along by tapping on a thermos.
Some of our favorite camping songs to sing are “Country Roads”, “Down By The Bay” and any of the Beatles songs. You don’t have to be an expert singer, but it is important that you kind-of know the words and the tune. 🙂 I would recommend getting a few different books, listening on YouTube or creating a playlist like with Pandora or Amazon Music. Kids songs or songs that you can sing in rounds are really fun too. Please note, I am able to read sheet music and chords you might need to get a digital version of the actual song for you. Here are a few books and song collections I have found helpful to get my “playlist” together:
4. Bird and Animal Watching
What is more traditional than watching wild life? It is also a great way to meditate, because you have to be quiet, patient, and be still. Do you ever spend a moment just being in tune with nature? Wildlife observation is a time to observe instead of participate which gives you a different perspective. We love watching the animals in our yard (even the bears), but especially we love to spot the animals on our adventures. We recently saw moose, osprey, chipmunks, deer and grouse on our last trip to the Magruder Corridor in the Selway/Frank Church Wilderness.
A good set of binoculars is always a good idea, whether you are on your porch or in the woods. I have a nice pair of Bushnell binoculars for at home. For the kids or backpacking and hiking, I have a very functional pair of binoculars that are less expensive, because I like my nice things to stay nice.
The best way to learn more about the animals and birds that you see, is by finding a goof book. If observing animals is something you enjoy, “Put On Your Owl Eyes” is a great book for documenting and observing, that provides guided activities for all ages. I did a review a few months ago of this book, and it has become dog eared already from use.
Another good book that is not only great for identifying local wildlife, but also tracking them, is the “Falcon Guides Scat and Tracks of North America” book. It has detailed drawings and descriptions of animals and birds, and good images of the different scat and tracks of each animal. I like getting it out when the kids and I are interested in a certain animal or when we find tracks and poop in our yard, like the other day when we had a bear by the chicken coop.
For bird watching, the best book I have found so far is “The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America”. I have found this to be the most comprehensive guide that covers the whole continent instead of just one area. It has good information and graphics and is also just fun to browse.
5. Cooking S’mores
And last but not least, what about cooking over the fire? There are at least five different ways of cooking over a campfire, but when I am with the kids, I love to make s’mores or other sweet treats. S’mores are the ultimate American campfire dessert. The last few years we have tried everything from campfire eclairs to using chocolate chip cookies for our s’mores. The campfire eclairs were good, but a total Pinterest fail (so ugly and half-burnt). I even made blueberry cobbler and popcorn in the dutch oven, but there really isn’t anything more traditional than a s’more. So here are a few ideas you can try, if you like gooey marshmallows:
It doesn’t have to be just S’mores if you choose to create camping memories. There are so many fun ways to cook over a fire and so many delicious and amazing recipes. If you are looking for not-so-traditional S’mores recipes or other camping food ideas, check out this post on the best camping cookbooks that every camper needs.
Do you have any favorite outdoor activities for camping? Or do you like just visiting or being quiet? My sister likes to listen to audio books and I like to get caught up on reading. It just depends on who you are. I like these old traditions though, because that’s what my family would do when we were camping when I was a kid. Try something new the next time you go camping. Don’t let technology or crafts get in the way of you finding a simple camping pastime. Be outside with no limits.