Whether it’s an overnight trip with the family or a week-long adventure with friends, the camping experience offers equal parts action and relaxation. After a long day cruising the lake, fishing in the river or hiking the trails, it’s time to come together at the campground. In fact, some of your best camping memories will likely be formed during those down times around the campfire without the distractions of modern city life. As the fire warms and glows, there isn’t much to do other than talk, laugh, play music, look up at the stars and go for a game or two.
If you’re looking for a fun way to mix up the campfire routine, give these interactive games and activities a try. They are excellent ways to stir up conversation and bond in between s’mores.
Best for: Families with children 11 and up, teens, adults
What You Need: Three or more people
How to Play: This game is a spinoff of the old school truth or dare. We like it because it forces you to get to know one another and it offers a unique opportunity to bond. To play, one person shares three unlabeled stories or facts about him or herself: two truths and one lie. The other players get one chance to guess which is the lie. To up the ante, create a penalty for guessing the wrong answer.
Best for: Families, all ages
What You Need: Three or more people, Uno cards
How to Play: A variation of the classic Crazy Eights, Uno is a popular card game that can be enjoyed for hours around the campfire. The objective of the game is to match either your color or number to a card pile in the middle stack. The first player to get rid of all their cards wins. Players must draw cards from a pile if they don’t have a matching card to put down, and strategy cards like draw four, skip and reverse will disrupt your flow and make the game a little trickier to win.
Best for: Teenagers, adults
What You Need: Three or more people
How to Play: The primary participant thinks of an object or a famous person and keeps it to him or herself. Keeping this a secret is key. The other players take turns asking strategic questions that can be answered only by yes or no. The purpose of each question is to get closer to identifying the secret object or person. If you guess correctly before or once 20 questions have been asked, you take control in the next round. If no one cracks the secret, the primary plays again.
Best for: Adults only
What You Need: Three or more people, Cards Against Humanity card set
How to Play: This party game can get raunchy, but that’s what makes it so hilarious to play with open-minded adults. The game is simple: each round one player draws a black card at random, reads the question aloud and places it in the center of the table. In response, the other players answer the oftentimes ridiculous question with their funniest white card, placing it face down around the black card. The original player reviews all white cards and chooses the best answer, based on accuracy, irony or hilarity. The further into the night this game goes, the crazier it can get.
Best for: Families
What You Need: At least five people; as many players as possible
How to Play: This game is silly, straightforward and a go-to for kids of all ages. The game begins by one person thinking of a short message or story, while everyone sits in a circle around the campfire. This message is whispered quietly from the original person to the next player and the next player, until it makes its way around the campfire back to the originator. The last player to receive the message says it outloud for everyone to hear and compare to the version they heard. You’ll be surprised how much the original message or story can change.
Best for: Families
What You Need: Telescope (optional)
How to Play: One great way to interact with and inspire your kids to learn something new is to simply look up at the stars. When you venture away from the bright city lights and industrial haze, you’ll uncover a whole new world of stars and planets dancing above. Teach them how to find the Milky Way, the Big Dipper or the North Star. If you have a telescope, bring it along to look at the moon, or try and find a planet or two. If you need a little help, download a planet finder app on your phone.
Best for: Families with children seven years and up
What You Need: Three people or more, Exploding Kittens card game
How to Play: First, let’s be clear that absolutely no real animals are harmed in any way. This strategic and fun card game originally gained support and popularity through a Kickstarter campaign. Players draw cards until someone gets an exploding kitten. Once drawn, you are out of the game unless you possess a defuse card or another power card that can be used to move, mitigate or avoid the exploding kittens. To win you’ll need to outplay your opponents by using the right card at the right time. We like it because it gets competitive and forces you to make risky decisions.
8. Game: Bocce Ball
Best for: Families and kids ages six and up
What You Need: Bocce Ball Set
How to Play: This physical game will get you on your feet and test your hand-eye coordination. If you want to play bocce ball at the campground after dark, consider investing in a glow-in-the-dark set. To play, you’ll split into teams and take turns tossing the smaller ball. Then you’ll attempt to throw the eight larger balls as close to the smaller ball as possible. The closest team wins.
Best for: Adults
What You Need: Six players or more, a standard deck of cards
How to Play: To begin, a moderator will divide the group into two teams: mafia and innocent. The game has two phases in which the mafia can murder an innocent, and then the remaining members attempt to eliminate suspects until the killer is found. How are the cards involved? Well, the complete rules can be found here. We like this campfire party game because it is complex enough to keep adults entertained as the night burns on.
Best for: Families or groups, ages eight and up
What You Need: Two players or more, Farkle dice game
How to Play: This dice rolling risk game forces you to keep rolling for the highest score possible. But, if you go over, you lose. This camping game is easy to play, forces you to choose between risking it all or playing it safe, and is small and light enough to carry in a backpack.