I know some of you may be thinking that kids don’t need toys at the campsite and nature should be entertaining enough. I totally get where you are coming from, but I also know that a bored child can make for a miserable camping trip for everyone. I think the right toys and activities can enhance outdoor play when camping and these suggestions will make your kids happy campers (and you too!)
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The Top Toys to Take Camping
Most outdoor camping toys are pretty traditional and actually affordable. You probably already have some of these toys.
We have toys at home that we reserve only for camping. My grandsons know they are our “camping toys” and are happy to discover them each time we go camping.
Keep in mind that I am not suggesting that you take tons of toys camping – pick a few that are best for your family.
Also think about the campground you will be staying at. Does it have a playground, swimming pool, creek to wade in, or other activities for children? Hardly any toys will be needed if the campground has plenty to do.
Consider the age and personalities of your children. Do you think your kids will happily play outside, construct and play with sticks, and use their imagination to go on an adventure? Or will they be more likely to need something to play with?
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Here are some of our favorites….
My grandsons spend hours digging in the dirt with small shovels and hoes and filling their sand buckets with dirt, rocks, cones, and twigs. Some campgrounds have sandboxes too. Inexpensive sand toys like these are great! Tip: Please tidy up the campsite and fill any holes your kids dig.
A toy dump truck is the perfect addition to the sand buckets. I prefer plastic trucks to take camping. Dozers, scoops, and backhoes are also fun. Girls like playing with trucks too!
Toy Animal Figurines
Little farm and wildlife animals can be played with in the tent or camper, outside in the dirt, on the picnic table etc. Plus they tuck easily into pockets or a bag to carry around. Encourage your kiddos to try to spot some real wildlife!
Bubbles are so much fun and there are now tons of different bubble options available. Giant bubble wands, bubble machines, and even glow in the dark bubbles. Tip: Break open a glow stick and pour the contents into your bubbles.
Some people frown upon bubbles at campsites due to the bubble solution getting on nearby tents and harming the leak proof coating on the tent material… Keep this in mind – perhaps the campground has an area away from the campsites, near the playground or a field, that you could play with bubbles.
Kids loves glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets and they are cheap at the dollar store. They can be handy when you are trying to keep up with your wandering explorers at night!
Flashlight and Lanterns
Although not technically a toy, kids have always loved flashlights. They are useful and fun. We have found that it is great to have several different kinds – handheld flashlights, headlamps and small lanterns. Tip: Bring extra batteries.
Backpack and Nature Kit
Get your kids their own backpack. They are great for hikes and exploring, and are perfect for stowing small toys and a nature kit. A kit with a bug net, magnifying glass, bug case, and binoculars will encourage your budding nature scientist.
Even if the campground you’ll be at doesn’t have a pond or creek for fishing, bring along a toy fishing pole for the kiddos. They can practice casting at the campsite. If you plan on going fishing, get them a real child’s fishing pole. Don’t forget a tackle box of their own – obviously keep the hooks in your box!
Not only are wagons fun for the kids to pull each other around in and load with their treasures and toys, they come in handy for parents too. Tired toddlers can hitch a ride around the campground.
Campground roads can be great for bike riding. Please watch your kids though and teach them to keep an eye out for people walking around the campground and for car traffic. (Many campgrounds post speed limits and ‘watch for kids’ signs but it is important to teach children that they need to be careful too!)
Take a storage container (plastic shoebox) of craft supplies – glue, scissors, markers, crayons, paper, ribbon, feathers etc.. Tip: Tuck a travel size packet of baby wipes in the container for sticky glue fingers.
Toys to Take Camping for Toddlers
I think toddlers can be the hardest to keep up with and entertain while camping (Well, some would say a mopey teenager is worse!)
Toddlers love getting messy in the dirt but do require extra attention. Favorite toddler toys for camping would be the sand toys, trucks, small sturdy playsets, balls, and wagons.
I have discovered that when older kids are camping they will sometimes have just as much fun playing with toys usually loved by toddlers. I guess when they are not glued to electronic devices they revert back to good ol’ fashion play!
Games and Activities
I’m a big believer in kids needing unstructured, outdoor play, and camping is the perfect opportunity for that. But if you are on a longer camping trip, kids may get bored and these games and activities are great boredom busters at the campground.
Head out on a scavenger hunt around the campground or hiking trail. It’s fun and educational too! You can create a your own or get my free scavenger hunt printables below. I have created two for you – a camping theme and a nature theme. They have both words and pictures so they are great for kids that can’t read yet, plus they are black and white to save ink when printing.
FREE SCAVENGER HUNT PRINTABLES
Save plastic easter eggs and hide them around the campsite. Young kids will happily search for eggs over and over. Kids can also stash pebbles and acorns in the eggs. Just be sure you gather all your eggs before you leave. Although the next child to visit the campground and find a left behind egg may be happy, it really would be considered trash or litter.
Take a Hike
Many campgrounds have hiking or nature trails. If not, look for one nearby – ask the campground staff for hiking recommendations. Check out my ultimate guide to hiking with kids for tons of tips.
Related Post: How to Find Hiking Trails
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek can be fun in different surroundings. Set boundaries for hiding places so they don’t end up in other campsites or lost. Older kids love to play hide and seek in the dark.
Gather your family and friends and go on a campground parade. Walk, ride bikes, and pull wagons around the campground roads. Decorate your bikes and wagons for the parade.
Make leaf animals, decorate a walking stick, or draw a landscape. If you paint, be sure to put a plastic tablecloth on the picnic table. You don’t want your little artist painting campground property!
Take advantage of the time together to play traditional board and card games. There are now several camping themed games available too. This one is fast, easy, and fun!
Corn hole is a game the whole family can enjoy. (Well, maybe not your littlest campers!) Invite neighboring campers to join the competition. We built our own corn hole boards, but you can buy several different variations, including lighter weight, portable ones.
Be Sure to Organize Your Camping Toys
This list may seem like a lot of stuff to lug to the campground. Remember, you don’t have to bring tons of toys.
Really it isn’t so bad if you are organized. Put all the toys in a tote of their own so they are not strewn all over the car, camper,or tent.
Bikes and wagons take up the most room so consider the campground you’ll be going to – is there even a good place to ride a bike? Also check out these folding wagons that are easier to transport. – just be sure it is one that kids can easily climb in and out of.
Your Favorite Toys for Camping
Now it is your turn. What are some of your family’s favorite toys and activities for camping? Or do you skip the toys and let the kids entertain themselves outside? Let us know in the comments below!