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Summer Travel | Magazine

Five outdoor games kids will love to play while camping

On your next camping trip, turn the great outdoors into your playground with these activities recommended by outdoor experts.

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1. Flash flood

On a group camping trip or hike, one person yells “flash flood” and starts counting down from 10, explains Ezra Fradkin, the summer program director at Kroka Expeditions in Marlow, New Hampshire. Everyone else must move to a spot off the ground — by climbing a tree or a rock, for example — as if a flash flood were approaching. The last person to get off the ground loses. Fradkin says one variation requires everyone to stay off the ground for 30 seconds. Anyone who doesn’t make it loses that round.

2. Scavenger hunt

Ann Frenning Kossuth, a director at Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Melrose, suggests printing out a premade scavenger hunt sheet before your trip, one for each player (Google “nature scavenger hunt” to find sheets), or creating your own. You can find different levels of difficulty and tailor it to your location. Young children can mark off the items as they find them; teenagers with phones can take a selfie with the item. The scavenger hunt can be played like Bingo, or simply ask participants to keep going until they’ve found all the listed items. (Frenning Kossuth encourages kids to leave what they find behind for others to enjoy — an approach that teaches stewardship and reinforces that the woods are for everyone.)

3. Building fairy houses

Inviting younger children (usually younger than 7) to build a so-called fairy home out of twigs, bark, leaves, and other objects found in the woods ignites creativity and brings some magic to camping, Frenning Kossuth says. (Google “Monhegan Island fairy houses” to see some examples.)


4. Letterboxing

Celeste Barr, the education director at Beaver Brook Nature Center in Hollis, New Hampshire, likens this activity to Pokémon Go. Before your trip, go to or to find a letterbox that is hidden in a location you’ll be visiting. Listed clues — such as “turn left at the parking lot and take the grassy road” — will help guide you to the box. Some boxes may no longer be in place, so Barr recommends you stick to ones with clues that show recent activity on the websites. Each letterbox contains a stamp that you stamp into a logbook, leaving the letterbox and stamp where you found them.


5. Meet a tree

Fradkin explains how it works: One person at a time is blindfolded and led by another to a tree. The blindfolded person is instructed to “meet” that tree: feel its bark, wrap his arms around the trunk, feel the ground beneath, and so on. Then the blindfolded person is led back to a central location, where the blindfold is removed. With eyes open, he now has to pick out and return to the same tree.

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Shafaq Patel is an undergraduate studying journalism at Emerson College. Send comments to