Camping Activities for Tweens
Camping with tweens is a little different than camping with younger children. While little ones are easily distracted by coloring, butterflies, and goldfish crackers, tweens are a little more difficult to impress. After the initial excitement of getting to the campsite and setting up the tent (or camper) and gear wears off, it’s helpful to have some activities planned in advance to distract from the lack of electronics and comforts of home.
Here are some activities I put together for our last camping trip, and some old family favorites to fend off the tween grumpies:
- Hiking. A bit of pre-planning in this area can be incredibly helpful. While the little ones are often content with a path to check out caterpillars, tweens are less content “walking to nowhere”. Choosing a campsite near some interesting features like caves, arches, bridges, and streams makes hiking more fun. Bonus points for anywhere kids can climb giant rocks. It’s always a hit.
- Scavenger Hunt. I made my own scavenger hunt for tweens using a combination of items from similar sheets as well as adding my own ideas. I brought along small inexpensive prizes like puzzles, balls, and masks for completing the sheet (which also served as entertainment back at the campsite!) We checked off the items instead of collecting them, since we didn’t want to disturb the area.
We had children ranging from 6–12 on our trip, so I also created a coordinating easier list for the younger ones (both with my art, of course! I couldn’t resist adding my own touch.) I added my lists here as a freebie, click on the links to download and print the pdf scavenger hunts for tweens and young children.
- Camping Bingo. National Wildlife Federation has their camping bingo sheets ready to download and print. We used these as campsite entertainment (with our additional rule that things in our own campsite were off-limits). Great for tweens as printed, but blank sheets are also available if you want to make things more challenging.
- Campfire Wishing Stones A huge success for all ages! Tweens can heat the rocks in the campfire, remove with tongs (with adult help), and create their own melted art at the picnic table. We’ve made these in the campfire, in our backyard firepit, and in the oven.
- Geocaching. Our family has been geocaching for a few years now, and tweens are the perfect age to be introduced to the game. A handheld GPS (or a smartphone with a geocaching app, though they are less accurate and require a cell signal) is needed, but can be found in a wide variety of price ranges. One great option is a geocaching-specific device aimed specifically at tweens and beginners called the Geomate Jr. (affiliate link) that works very well. We use the either the Geomate or one of the Garmin eTrex (affiliate link) models when we go searching. Seeking the hidden cache container also is a great way to add some interest to a hike. Find out more at geocaching.com.
- Fairy/Gnome Houses Building fairy houses (or gnome houses for those tweens not keen on fairies) is a fun way to use natural materials found on a hike or around the campsite. It has building/engineering fun + whimsical fantasy for kids with varying interests. Kids can work together to build one house, or separately to create their own creations.
- camp cooking for tweens And last but not least, is an activity that needs a separate list of its own. Campfire cooking! Plenty of safe ideas to give your tweens and teens the freedom to help.
Looking for something to entertain them on the drive to the campsite? I’ve got you covered there too. Here’s a free printable Travel Scavenger Hunt for Tweens.
Thanks for stopping by! For more camping ideas, check out my camping Pinterest board.
Until next time…