Guides

Top Camp Games

For the kid in all of us.

Words by Monique Seitz-Davis

Whether you’re five, 15, 25, or 50 years old, fun knows no age and furthermore knows no bounds. After all, having fun is what camping is all about. No one ever said “fun should be obtained in moderation” and the true beauty is that fun comes in all shapes and sizes. But, as wonderful (and yes, fun) as the peace and quiet of a backcountry or campground site can be, sometimes having a little hands-on preoccupation as you enjoy a campfire can do you a world of magic that conversation or companionship simply won’t offer.

These people would obviously be having a lot more fun if they were playing a game together.

A Deck of Cards

You might not consider a deck of cards as a proper toy, but the sheer amount of possibilities are endless when it comes to card games. You can play Go-Fish, War, Speed, Gin and Rummy, Solitaire, or Poker (if you’re of age). Card games are especially convenient if you’re tent-bound for an evening (e.g., you forgot to check the forecast and it rained). My game of preference? War. Despite the fact that it’s kind of the Monopoly of card games (in the sense that it goes on forever), it’s a true game of chance.

Jenga or Tumble Blocks

This is a timeless, family or friend-family, favorite. It’s slightly stressful, fun, and will give adrenaline junkies a run for their money (maybe). Though, it does require a flat surface and is a bit of a pain to restack, it’s a surefire way to engage everyone you’re camping with.

Bocce

Bocce is one of the first campground games I remember playing. Coming from an Italian family (on my mutha’s side), I found Bocce a shade droll as a young ‘un. But once I figured out the game’s basic strategy, I decided that it was worth sticking around for a few games while my Nonni and Nonno sipped on some Amaretto. Granted, I couldn’t tell you jack about the game nowadays, but I can surely attest to the fact that it’s fun. And the best part? There are lightweight backpacking editions now, which is awfully convenient considering that the version I played had giant, heavy bocce balls.

Checkers

The game of checkers is engaging, though relatively passive in its enthusiasm, which makes it ideal for camping situations that have strict quiet hours (or bedtimes, if you’re camping with kids). You can go the old-fashioned route, if you will, and pick up one of those two-sided editions that have both conventional and Chinese checkers, or you can grab yourself a magnetic edition for backpacking—that way the game pieces don’t go sliding around all over the place.

Bananagrams or Scrabble

I’m going to sound like a quintessential writer, but Bananagrams and/or Scrabble are two of my all-time favorites. Granted, both games require a flat surface, which make them most suitable for tailgate or table endeavors. My only wish is that Bananagrams would come out with a fun glow-in-the-dark edition since the little blocks can easily get lost in the dark, especially if you shuffle around your setup like I do.

Set

As an only child, I had to figure out creative ways to play when I was all by my lonesome. And since I had a busy brain, I needed something that was equal parts stimulating, yet chill. As a result? Set was one of my go-to solo games to play when my folks needed some down time. It’s a true memory game: I’d venture to say that it’s a bit more challenging than Mother Goose, making it suitable for all ages above six or seven. And while it can be played as a solo game, it’s accommodating for multiple players, too.

A Slingshot

Now, we’d venture to say that anyone above the age of 18 is allowed to utilize one of these. Or a very mature teenager. At any rate, the humble slingshot is a camping classic. Albeit, it’s not exactly conducive to playing with multiple people, but it only really requires a handful of empty beer cans and bit of saloon-inspired swagger.

What are your favorite camp games?

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