Whether you’re doing it close to home during ongoing pandemic-related travel restrictions, or eventually farther afield if those restrictions are loosened, camping can be a great way to shake the COVID-19 blues (that is, of course, so long as you’re abiding by all health guidelines and outdoor-recreation rules issued by authorities).
For the time being, social distancing is still the name of the game for protecting yourself and others from the coronavirus. So today at the Mountain House blog we thought we’d pull together some ideas for fun camping games that, if need be, can be enjoyed in responsible, spaced-out fashion.
These social distance camping games include options for adults, young children, and teens, and they really only scratch the surface: Just as many of us have discovered making stay-at-home living (and, for families, some unexpected home-schooling) doable, a little creativity in the midst of limitations can go a long way.
Here are some ideas for the best camping games and camping activities for kids that sync well with the whole social-distancing routine.
Sleeping Bag Race: It’s the campground version of the sack race, and it’s a blast! To ensure that the inevitable veering and tumbling doesn’t breach that minimum six-foot social-distancing gap, you probably ought to leave a whole lot of extra elbow room between contestants.
Hopping Race: One-footed footraces—how can you resist? Here again, make those racing lanes very roomy: Straight lines aren’t exactly rigidly adhered to by competitive hoppers.
“I Spy”-style Cloud Watching: There’s a timeless appeal to kicking back in the grass, casting your eyes skyward, and enjoying the ever-shifting, never-exactly-repeating spectacle of cloud-scapes. A nice contemplative downtime practice, you can also make it a game (as Broken Head Holiday Park notes) by going the “I Spy” route, encouraging the youngsters to see animal shapes, faces, and the likes among those puffball cumulus and wispy cirrus.
Nature-Themed Scavenger Hunt: Come up with a list of natural objects easy to come by—different leaf shapes, rocks, seeds, spiders, etc.—for kids to search for.
Flashlight Morse Code: We like this idea for an after-dark camp game from Good Housekeeping: A grownup armed with a flashlight and sequestered in the woods or off in the distance flashes Morse-code messages that kids back at camp can try to decipher.
Map/Compass Challenges:Depending on the age group, use a simple campground or park map, a hand-drawn map, or (for the older crowd) a topographic chart, and engineer simple navigation challenges—a good way to introduce kids to basic map-reading. After running through the fundamentals of a compass, you can also organize orienteering activities such as walking exactly straight lines or following right-angle traverses.
Because we’re covering some of the more active games in the next section—outdoor camping games for both kids and adults—we’ll stick here with a few around-the-campfire options more appealing to grownups than those easily bored (and easily scandalized) youngins. These are also great to play if you’re camping from home!
Charades: Just because you’re in the campground and not the living room doesn’t mean you can’t pull off a good old-fashioned game of charades, right?
Two Truths & A Lie: Test how well your camping companions know you—and maybe shock them off their feet—by seeing if they can tell which of your admissions or anecdotes is a fib.
The following games for camping trips work well for grownups, kids, or both—and easily adapt to this brave new social-distancing world we’re dealing with right now.
Cornhole: Here’s one of those lawn games that translates perfectly to the campground (and jibes with social distancing). As REI points out, if you don’t actually have the boards and beanbags, lines scrawled in the dirt and pinecones fit the bill just fine: the rustic edition of cornhole.
Horseshoes: Another great option for a socially distanced camping game!
Ring Toss: Same deal here—and you can even go the glow-in-the-dark route to crank up the challenge and the fun.
Glow-in-the-Dark Bowling:Speaking of, Country Living suggests using glowsticks in water bottles for pins and just about any kind of ball to set up a glow-in-the-dark campground bowling alley.
Storytelling Contests: Who’s the best yarn spinner and tall-tale teller? Who’s got the freakiest ghost story in their arsenal? Who can get downright theatrical performing a narrative? Storytelling’s an age-old camping activity, of course, and it works fine in a socially distanced hangout (with a little projection).
Dance Off: Queue up some tunes (as long as it’s not quiet hours, mind you) and see who’s got the best moves. Social distancing just means everybody’s got a bigger stage on which to strut.
This is a tough and strange time, without question, but when it’s possible and responsible to do so, camping can be a fantastic way to pursue physical and mental health in the wake of COVID-19’s unprecedented disruption. We hope some of the above social-distancing camping games give you some inspiration!