34 Easy Camping Activities For Preschoolers And Toddlers

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Camping over the weekend can be a refreshing escape from the hustle of daily life. But it will be possible only when you have some safe yet engaging camping activities for toddlers planned. There can be several camping activities a toddler can attempt. But the catch is, these activities should be easy, fun-filled, engaging, and entertaining to prevent the toddler from losing interest.

Devin, a hiking and camping enthusiast, delves into the fun and interesting camping trip he goes on with his partner and children and says, “It’s all about creating memories and spending time together, so you are just doing the things that make your kids happy. If you are trying to cover a huge milage, you are probably going to miss out on some of the opportunities to throw a stick in the lake or skip rocks. Do it for the kids; that is probably one of the most important things that you do as a parent (i).”

Since finding such games can be a task, our list of toddler-friendly camping activities is here to help. This list will provide you with various activities you can tweak based on your little one’s abilities and skills, weather, and terrain.

In This Article

34 Fun Camping Activities and Games for Toddlers

Toddler Camping Activities

These activities are an excellent way to let your toddlers get creative while you sit back, relax, and enjoy some free time.  

1. Cloud watching

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For such a calming yet fun daytime activity, all you need to do is spread out a blanket in a shady spot and gaze at the sky. To make it fun, ask your children to look for animal figures such as dogs, cats, bears or spot numbers and shapes.

protip_icon Quick tip
You can buy your child a kid’s camera and ask them to click pictures of the cloud figures they spot in the sky. This can help them develop an interest in photography and boost their creativity.

2. Crafts

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Packing a few craft supplies such as paper, crayons, markers, pencils, scissors, and glue on your packing trip goes a long way. It helps them stay occupied and bring out their creative ability.

3. Nature art

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Your child can take a part of your camping trip home by making art with nature. Let them pick flowers, petals, leaves, twigs, and anything else that catches their attention. They can lay them at the campsite creatively and stick them down on a paper or book. Frame or file it as a memory when you are back home.

4. Rock hunting and painting

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Making crafts with rocks can be entertaining. There is likely to be an abundant supply of rocks where you’re camping. Encourage your toddlers to gather some interesting rocks and paint them. You can use the rocks in pots at home or as funky decorations.

5. Nature walks

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Toddlers may not be able to go far and wide, but you can take them on a short walk around the campsite. It is an ideal way to make them fall in love with nature. Talk to them about the surrounding plants, trees, flowers, birds, and animals you come across. You can pack some water, snacks, and other essentials for the trail.

6. Leaf art

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It’s time for your toddler to add more beauty to nature’s leaves with leaf art. During the nature walk or around the campsite, gather an assortment of leaves of different sizes and shapes. When they’re bored, you can ask them to draw on the leaves or paint them.

7. Leaf rubbing

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It is a fun activity that toddlers can try with the leaves collected at the campsite, paper, and a few colored pencils or crayons. Use different colors to rub on the leaves and then print them on paper. The results can be excellent with different-shaped leaves. You can also use tree barks and get them creative.

8. Dreamcatchers

While camping, you can make dreamcatchers with a twist. Instead of the typical feathers, use anything they find around. You can use a small rock and stick hanging leaves, pine cones, or even the painted leaves. Take it back home and hang it around your home or in the backyard. Your child’s dream catcher could also be the perfect camping souvenir.

9. Amateur astronomy

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You don’t have to be Galileo Galilei or need a high-tech telescope for simple stargazing. On a clear night, you can spot stars, constellations and may even catch a shooting star or two. You can seek the help of free apps to help you identify.

10. DIY bird feeders

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Pack a few things such as an egg carton, a juice box, or tin cans to make bird feeders. Bird feeders can be a great way to draw birds and spot some when you aren’t taking a walk at the campsite.

11. Campfire songs

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It’s the perfect time to sing and have a gala time when it’s dark and the campfire has created magic at your site. Sing your toddler’s favorite songs with marshmallows roasting over the crackling flames. Including some fun and entertaining campfire games will bring a perfect end to a wonderful night around the campfire.

12. Storytelling

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Telling stories around the campfire while making some S’mores is an activity you cannot miss! Whether it’s silly stories for your toddler or stories about your first camping trip, anything can make a memorable family time. You can even get your little one to narrate a story.

protip_icon Do remember
Pre-schoolers are highly impressionable. So, if you share stories of bravery and courage, it can positively influence your child.

13. Stick craft

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Take your tiny tot for a quick walk or ask them to collect small twigs and sticks from in and around the campsite. Using these sticks, a pair of scissors, and some glue, they can build unique stuff such as a boat or a house. While they’re busy building, you can relax and unwind with your favorite book.

14. Book reading

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After the sun goes down, you and your family can sit around the campfire with your little one. Take out their favorite book and read it to them with the help of a flashlight. It can be a beautiful memory they can carry along with them for years.

15. Stick mazes

Ask your little one to draw a maze (you can pitch in with some ideas and help them). They can collect a bunch of branches, sticks, or twigs from around the campsite and use them to build a real-life maze. Once it’s complete, they’ll enjoy running through it together. Don’t forget to capture the sweet moments.

16. Fishing

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Your toddlers can enjoy fishing as they have curious little minds. Fishing is an excellent way to teach them the art of patience. Also, you catch dinner and show them how it goes from ocean to plate.

17. Camp cooking

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While little ones cannot cook, you can certainly get them involved in outdoor cooking under your supervision. They can help by using tongs to turn sausages, lay the table out, grab ingredients for you, and mix things. The simple pleasures can teach them new skills such as confidence and independence.

18. Hiking

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Hiking is excellent for exercise and keeps your tiny tots engrossed throughout the journey. Along the way, they can find tiny creatures, footprints, flowers, and lots more. You can even take them to a waterfall or explore a cave (if those are nearby). Unlike a nature walk around the campsite, the hike is usually a long journey. So, don’t forget to carry snacks and other essentials.

19. Talent show

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Encourage toddlers to show off their incredible talents at the camping site. You would need speakers, a small stage of sorts, and an audience. They can even use props to make it more fun! Let them dance their boots off, sing their hearts out, and act to their heart’s content.

20. Fun with beads

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Toddlers like making bracelets, necklaces, rings, and other accessories with beads. Bring a box of all bead supplies such as wooden beads, metal beads, plastic beads, and plenty of stringing cords. You can create one and allow them to mimic the same, or you could let them unleash their creativity and create unique designs.

protip_icon Quick tip
If you don’t have a bead box, you can ask your child to hunt for seeds, rounded rocks, tree branches, and twigs and ask them to make something of it. This will make the process more engaging and allows your children to showcase their creativity.

21. Dance-off

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A simple, fun activity that everyone would love is dancing. All you need is to blast some music, not too loud as you may disturb the animals and neighbors. You can dance as a group or have a competition. Alternatively, you can even play a version of freeze where everyone freezes when the music stops. It can be a super fun activity that will unleash a few wiggles.

Camping Games For Toddlers

There’s no better way than games to enjoy time together, keep children engaged, and have a great time. 

22. Sleeping bag race

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When you’re camping, take a cue from the classic potato sack race, but this time instead of sacks, you can use sleeping bags. You’ve already got your sleeping bag, so put them to use. Let your tiny tot jump inside their sleeping bags and get to the ground and crawl like a worm to the finish line.

23. A scavenger hunt

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What better way to explore your campsite than with a scavenger hunt? A nature scavenger hunt helps little ones notice nature by spotting different plants, leaves, trees, animals, and bugs. Make a list of things they would find in your campsite’s environment, such as a yellow flower, a piece of bark, a red leaf, and an acorn. If you want, you can even get your little one to collect the list of items in a bag, and later, use them for a craft project.

24. Camping Bingo

Camping Bingo is a super fun game. Get printable camping Bingo cards which you can print and keep handy. Look around the campsite and mark off items you see. Like regular Bingo, you can put the calling card pieces in a bowl or hat and ask one person to draw one at a time and call it out. The first person to get five across, up and down, or diagonally wins!

25. Obstacle course

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An obstacle course gets heart rates up and burns lots of energy. You can design them with anything you have around or use balloons, hula hoops, or jump ropes. Create a series of challenges as your toddler’s abilities. A few ideas are:

  • Jump over a set of objects
  • Do five jumping jacks
  • Run to the nearest tent and back
  • Hop on one foot
  • Jump into and out of a hula-hoop five times
  • Crawl under a table or chair
  • Do a ring toss
  • Weave around objects

26. Freeze tag

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Freeze tag is a fast version of the classic game of tag with simple rules. One person is “it” and the “it” chases other players around. If the “it” touches a person, they have to “freeze” in place. To unfreeze a person, other players have to tag them without getting caught. The last person standing, who isn’t frozen, wins and becomes “it” to begin the next round.

27. The alphabet game

For toddlers who want to practice their ABCs, it can be a fun game. Starting from A to Z, make your little one draw objects. The one who completes drawing all the objects first wins the game. You can also play by naming things they see around from A to Z.

28. I Spy

It is a classic guessing game that everyone loves, including children. Choose one player as the first ‘spy’ who looks around and picks one item they see without revealing it. Then they have to say, “I spy with my little eye something that’s green and starts with ‘T.’” Others have to guess what it is. The one who guests correctly becomes the next spy.

29. Simon Says

Simon Says is a great activity to keep children busy and active. It is also a big hit with lots of giggles and laughter. A person is chosen as ‘Simon,’ who tells other players to do a few actions. The catch is, the players have to follow through only if Simon says, ‘Simon says.’

For example, Simon says, touch your toes. If the leader did not say Simon and said ‘rub your tummy’ and someone does the action, they would be out of the game. The leader can make things difficult by speeding up the pace of calling out the moves. Here are a few commands to get you started:

  • Turn around in a circle
  • Run in place
  • Make a sad face
  • Pat your belly
  • Put one arm in the air
  • Quack like a duck
  • Clap your hands
  • Stand on one foot
  • Pucker your lips
  • Wink an eye
  • Roll on the floor
  • Do a silly dance
  • Walk like a penguin
  • Act like you’re driving a car
  • Wiggle your toes

30. Squirt gun game

Carry a few squirt guns to the campsite if you want your little one to giggle and have fun. At the camp, line up some cups along the edge of a table. Hand a few squirt guns to those around and whoever knocks off the most glasses wins. Your tiny tot will try to knock the cups off first while giggling non-stop. You can expect players to be wet, so be ready to dry them up and keep a change of clothes handy.

31. Glow-in-the-dark bowling

Bowling with a twist with a glow-in-the-dark element can be equally enjoyable for all ages, including toddlers. You can make your bowling with six large empty water bottles and place colored glow sticks in each of them. Before you line it up, don’t forget to put the lids. Use a big ball that your little one can easily roll to knock down the pins.

32. Balloon ping-pong

 All you need is a picnic table and a balloon to enjoy the game. Ask your little ones to hit the balloon back and forth. To challenge your tiny tot, you can use more than one balloon at a time. Just remember to pack plenty of balloons.

33. Charades

Camping charade is an excellent activity for children as it requires no special equipment and is adaptable to any campsite. Prepare prompts like making a fire, setting up a tent, swimming in the lake, chopping wood, etc. Place these prompts in a hat or bucket, and take turns selecting and acting them out. It’s a delightful activity, particularly enjoyable around a campfire.

34. Skip stones

For those camping near water, gather smooth stones and challenge yourselves to see how many skips each stone can achieve. To execute a perfect skip, locate a flat, round rock and throw it parallel to the water’s surface. While skipping stones may take some practice, the sight of a stone gliding across the water as if it possesses wings makes it truly worthwhile.

Do’s Of Camping With A Toddler

  • Arrive as early as possible at the campsite, as you would not want to be setting up your tent in the dark.
  • Choose a large tent. With tents, the bigger, the better as you’ll have ample living and sleeping space. Plus, the little extra room helps your little one move around inside.
  • Take some time to explore all the amenities the campground has to offer. You can go for a walk, hike, or stroll around the place.
  • Exploring means burning more calories. Playing and running around would make the children hungry. So, it’s essential to pack nutritious snacks such as crackers, nuts, veggies, fruits, and granola bars. You could even make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for fussy eaters who don’t indulge in camp food.
  • Pack appropriate clothing based on the weather and activities that you’ve planned. Also, some comfortable clothes to wear during bedtime and when they’re lounging around.
  • If you’re lucky, your toddler would soundly sleep through the night in a tent. If not, you may need some sleep aids. Things such as their favorite stuffed toy, comfort items from home, a blanket, a favorite toy, or a pacifier can help.
  • A must in your outdoor kit, for both you and your baby are bug spray and sunscreen. Pack them in sufficient quantities so you won’t run out of them.
  • Whether it’s hiking or nature walks, it’s important to keep things short and simple when you’re with your toddler.
  • Clean up after you’re done with every activity.

Don’ts Of Camping With A Toddler

  • While it seems like you need to pack plenty of toys and plan several activities to entertain your child, it’s best to keep them at a minimum. Encourage them to explore new scenery and play freely in the woods.
  • Don’t forget to carry emergency lighting. It’s convenient in case the power runs out or for darker corners.
  • Don’t over pack. It’s important to carry only absolute essentials.
  • Keep in mind not to leave any food unattended. Before you go for your hike or walk, pack everything. Also, don’t leave your garbage out at night.
  • Don’t leave your campfire unattended.
  • Don’t set up your tent in the dark.
  • Don’t forget a first aid kit. You would need a few necessities such as bandages, medicines, allergy medication, and antibiotics if you or your little ones fall sick or scrape a knee.

Safety Tips for Camping with Toddlers

  • Always stick together and stay at a visible distance.
  • Steer clear from poisonous plants such as poison sumac, poison oak, and poison ivy.
  • Always wear shoes. There are higher chances of stepping on rocks or poisonous plants when you’re wearing slippers or going barefoot.
  • Don’t eat anything you find in the woods. You should clearly explain this to your children. Be it nuts, mushrooms, or berries, anything they see in the wild is not meant for eating.
  • Staying outdoors can make you dehydrated. So, it’s essential to drink plenty of water and always stay hydrated.
  • It’s important to stay away from water bodies without adults around.
  • Explain proper fire safety rules to your toddlers, so they’re aware.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How should I dress my toddler to sleep when camping?

You may dress your toddler before sleep as you do at home. Use cotton or fleece onesies or pajamas. If it’s cold, add an inner layer of clothing, such as a vest, to help them keep warm. This will also be useful if your child needs to go to the toilet (as onesies need to be removed entirely, exposing toddlers to cold). If your child needs diapers, pant-style diapers are more convenient for camping.

2. How cold is too cold to camp with a toddler?

Though temperatures ranging from 40 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit are considered suitable for camping, temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit may be too cold for toddlers.

3. What are the benefits of toddler camping activities?

Camping allows toddlers to experience the outdoors and connect with nature firsthand. Toddlers can engage in hiking, walking, running, climbing, and playing games outdoors, contributing to their overall physical development. Camping trips often involve families or groups, allowing toddlers to interact with others and develop their social skills. Camping allows toddlers to engage in activities that foster independence and self-reliance. Camping teaches children to respect nature and introduces them to the beauty and risks of mother nature.

4. How can parents involve toddlers in camping activities without overwhelming them?

When involving toddlers in camping activities, it’s important to consider their age, abilities, and comfort levels to avoid overwhelming them. Opt for campsites that are toddler-friendly, with amenities such as playgrounds. Pack familiar items from home, such as their favorite toys, blankets, and stuffed animals, to provide a sense of familiarity. You can include them in installing tents, cutting fruits, packing sandwiches, or other easier chores such as filling water bottles.

5. What common issues may arise when camping with toddlers?

Camping involves being in a natural environment with hazards such as uneven terrain, campfires, water bodies, and wildlife. Adjusting to a new sleeping environment can be challenging for toddlers. Toddlers can be picky eaters and may struggle to adapt to different foods while camping.

6. What age is suitable for toddler camping activities?

The suitable age for toddler camping activities can vary depending on the child’s development and the difficulty level of the campsite. Generally, children as young as two or three can start engaging in simple camping activities with their parents’ or caregivers’ assistance and close supervision.

All the activities mentioned above, including cloud watching, nature walks, campfires, fishing, dancing, balloon ping-pong, obstacle courses, and the alphabet game, could be suitable for preschoolers and toddlers’ camping activities. You can also use this time to strengthen your bond with your toddler while having fun. However, keep in mind some things, like arriving at the camping site as early as possible, packing all of your toddler’s essentials, including food and clothing, carrying your outdoor kit, and following all necessary precautions to ensure your and your toddler’s safety.

Infographic: Dos And Don’ts Of Camping With A Toddler

A family camping trip is a good idea for a relaxing weekend and a great opportunity for toddlers to enjoy nature. However, you must make necessary preparations for the comfort and safety of your toddler throughout the trip. The below infographic includes some useful tips for planning a camping trip with a toddler.

a safety guide for camping (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Going camping with your toddler is a fun way to bring them close to nature and spend some quality time together.
  • Nature art, rock painting, and nature walks are amazing ways of keeping your toddler engaged and entertained.
  • Involve your toddlers in fun games such as a sleeping bag race, scavenger hunt, and the likes.
  • Ensure the safety of the little ones while they explore nature and end with stories and songs around the magical campfire.

Get ready for some fun and adventure! Join us for a video on super fun camping games for kids. We’ll show you how to make the most of your camping trip!

Personal Experience: Source

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