Camping with teens and tweens is a little different than camping with younger children. While little ones are easily distracted by coloring, butterflies, and goldfish crackers, older kids 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 fun camping activities for teens and tweens 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:
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Camping Activities for Tweens and Teens
Outdoor Scavenger Hunts
- Nature Scavenger Hunt. I made my own scavenger hunt for teens and 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.
Click on the link at the end of the post to download and print the free nature camping scavenger hunt for teens and tweens.
We had children ranging from 6-12 on our trip, so I also created a coordinating easier list for the younger ones. Get it here: Printable Nature Hunt for Kids.
- Camping Scavenger Hunt. Meander & Coast has 2 camping scavenger hunts 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 and teens! There’s a regular photo camping scavenger hunt and a selfie camping scavenger hunt to play.
Outdoor Activities and Crafts
- 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, teens and 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.
Our last trip included a trip through this “tunnel”, across several natural bridges like the one pictured below, a sinkhole with a waterfall inside it, and several stream crossings.
- Melted Crayon Rocks. These “campfire wishing stones” are a huge success for all ages! Tweens can heat the rocks in the campfire, remove with tongs (with teen/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. 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. One can be found in a wide variety of price ranges. A great starter option is the Garmin e-trex 10.
We use either our smartphones (if the cache is close to a road) or a handheld gps when we go searching. Seeking the hidden cache container is also a great way to add some interest to a hike. Find out more at geocaching.com.
More Great Activities for your Next Camping Trip
- 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.
This camping activity has building/engineering fun + whimsical fantasy for kids with varying interests. Kids can work together to build one house, or separately to make their own creations.
- Learn to make paracord zipper pulls or bracelets. This is a great camp craft for a larger group too.
- For a perfect opportunity to use their phones for good instead of evil, have them identify plants using an app.
- Look for local stand-up-paddleboard (SUP) or kayak rentals for an afternoon. Or spend some family quality time on a giant fun-shaped floatie. It’s a great way to beat the heat!
- Travel sized classic and card games are a great option for the whole family to play on a rainy day.
- 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 the freedom to help.
Download the Nature Scavenger Hunt for Older Kids
Click the orange button below to download the printable Nature Scavenger Hunt for Teens and Tweens to your device. Then print as many as you need (for personal, non-commercial use only.) Enjoy!
On the Road
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.
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Until next time…