Billy Goat a trail. Photo Credit: Josh Falk

This year marks the 13th year of the Great American Campout and August is a perfect month to get outside with your kids.  Why bring your kids camping? Getting out in nature offers a full-on sensory experience and provides a chance for kids to have unstructured play time outdoors, a time for kids to be kids.  It only takes a shooting star or seeing a great blue heron to persuade any young adventurer-in-the-making that camping is cool.

Camping is about more than just getting outside however, it’s a great way to encourage families to laugh, bond, and have fun.   Not sure what to do when you are camping? By using National Wildlife Federation’s Activity Finder, you can quickly filter through a wide range of activity ideas to help keep the kids busy and engaged. Activity Finder allows you to sort by age, time available, cost, as well as other filters.

Using the Activity Finder, here are just a few ways to have fun while you are camping with your kids.

Create a nature scavenger hunt

Gone Fishin’! Photo Credit. Josh Falk

Kids love scavenger hunts, and the great outdoors is the perfect place to have one. This classic camping game nurtures kids’ natural urge to explore.  This is an activity that can be played at any campsite and that kids of all ages can play. You can adjust the instructions to make them age-appropriate. Keep play in the campground area so as not to disturb the surrounding wildlife habitat.  You can also take your scavenger hunt to the next level by making it into camping bingo.  Design your own categories or use Activity Finder’s pre-populated card.

Make a nature guidebook
Record your outdoor observations in a homemade nature notebook. Kids love to learn and list the names and the plants and animals around the campsite. You can use this notebook to compare the different natural finds in different places you visit.

Go on a “Conifer Quest”

Exploring the woods. Photo Credit: Josh Falk
Exploring the woods. Photo Credit: Josh Falk

Trees are great wildlife habitat.  When National Wildlife Federation receives 150,000 camping pledges, we’ll plant 5000 trees as part of our Trees for Wildlife program. Use the Conifer Quest activity to learn about conifers, or evergreen trees, by making a Conifer Quest board.

Observe bugs at night

Insects are almost always part of a camping trip.  Most of them don’t bite and are amazingly interesting.  Set up a light and a white screen, and you’ll see all sorts of new bugs at night – like a bug movie.

Make rain music

Is it raining?  As long as it’s not thundering or lightning, don’t let a little rain get you down, celebrate by taking your metal pots and pans outside and making rain music. If you want to measure how much rain falls, you can also collect the rain in one of the pots.

Even more:

Bird Watching. Photo Credit : Josh Falk

For more ideas, check out our blog from last year. The National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick website has tons of fun, printable games you can bring to the great outdoors. These games include Bug Bingo, Backyard Birds, and Animal Tracks Twister. Explore the site here.

Sp enjoy the outdoors this summer and if you do decide to take up some camping while enjoying the sights and sounds, please consider pledging to help National Widllife Federations Great American Campout.

Help America’s Widllife Survive!

I Pledge to Camp