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.
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.
32 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
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.
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
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
Arts and 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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. Roasting marshmallows and singing your toddler’s favorite songs can be a great way to end a day.
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.
13. Stick craft
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
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.
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
While little ones cannot cook, you can certainly get them involved in the process 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.
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
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
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.
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
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
What better way to explore your campsite than with a scavenger hunt? A 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
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
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 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.
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, which means your children would get hungrier as they play and run around. 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 (1).
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.
- 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.
- Camping safety tips for families.