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, some old family favorites and some new ideas I found on Pinterest, 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. This is an idea I found on Pinterest, (Scavenger Hunt Pin)and decided to try on our trip, with fantastic results. Since the pinned sheet was for younger kids, 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 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. Another Pinterest pinned idea from National Wildlife Federation. NWF 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.
- 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 fairly reasonably priced. There is also a caching device aimed specifically at tweens that works very well. Geomate Jr. Seeking the hidden cache container also is a great way to add some interest to a hike. Find out more at geocaching.com.
We were rained out by Hurricane Ike on the last day of our camping trip, so I didn’t have a chance to pull these last 2 pinned ideas out of my hat. I’m adding them to the list though, because both ideas were met with enthusiasm when I mentioned them to my tweens. We’ll try them next time.
- Rock Melt Art. These Melted crayon rocks look like so much fun! (Again, found it on Pinterest!) She heated the rocks in the oven, but tweens can heat the rocks in the campfire, remove with tongs, and create their own melted art at the picnic table. I was really looking forward to this one myself. We may try it anyway in our own firepit before the next camping trip.
- Fairy/Gnome Houses I was waiting for an “I’m bored” moment to suggest building fairy houses (or gnome houses for those tweens not keen on fairies). It has building/engineering fun for one kid, and whimsical fantasy for the other. Kids can work together to build one house, or separately to create their own creations.
And last but not least, is an activity that needs a separate post of its own. Next week’s post will be all about:
- camp cooking for tweens
Until next time…