5 ways to turn your family camping trip into an adventure.

Campsite with a tent at night

When the subject of family camping is brought up, people generally have one of two reactions: “BORING!” or “HOORAY!” There are some people that really love the feeling of being outside in nature and take full advantage of the opportunity. There are others that would rather have a root canal than being stuck going on a camping trip. 

Focusing on the latter group, there is so much more to camping than being stuck outside without a working toilet. Part of what makes camping fun is being properly prepared; the other part is an open mind. Even the most un-outdoorsy type can turn a boring camping trip into a great adventure using these activities.

Be prepared

Nothing can ruin a camping trip like figuring out you forgot important camping gear. How much do you list makers, like myself, enjoy checking things off a good list? Before you pack, print our Family Camping Checklist:

Picture of a camping checklist which can be printed

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When the idea of going camping comes up, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it insects or is it that marvelous nighttime tradition around the campfire?

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A roaring campfire with marshmallows being roasted over the open flames

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The campfire is one of the most important aspects of creating an outdoor adventure while camping. A roaring campfire doesn’t just happen. It requires a little planning and preparation.

Bring the firewood. It would be a real bummer to forget the firewood and there not be any available. I’m sure they won’t mind at your campground if you pick up sticks but they tend to frown upon folks chopping down trees for firewood.

Plan some ghost stories. KOA has a list you can print right here. Get to know your favorites and retell them rather than read them.

Roast Marshmallows and Make S’mores. You can of course do both. My parents always used wire coat hangers when I was growing up but now you can buy these Marshmallow Roasting Sticks designed for the purpose. These have two prongs making it less likely your marshmallow will fall into the fire. Bonus, you can roast hot dogs on these also.


Safety is a must here. Be sure, if hiking is on the agenda, to have proper gear like hiking boots, gloves, stocked backpack and a compass. Pay attention to your surroundings and read the guides provided by the location you have chosen. They will inform you of the cautions you need to know like snakes and bears.

Go Geocaching on your hike.

Hike to a Waterfall.

Picture of a Nature Scavenger Hunt for kids

A swimming lake


If you are camping in the summertime, try to find a location near a lake. The cool water can offer relief from the heat as well as a sort of substitute for the missing shower facilities.

Some of my fondest memories as a teen was meeting my friends at the Lake to go swimming. We were not camping but we spent the day as if we were and played in the water all day.


This family camping activity can be an entire adventure by itself. Depending on how many people are in your camping adventure, divide up into groups. Be sure to pair children with adults. Have each person take a backpack and go hiking in search of nature items which can be turned into a craft.

My husband and I did something similar on a marriage retreat. We went out and found nature items we could use to describe how we felt about our partner. I brought back a rock because he’s my rock. Lame, I know but you get the idea.

Craft Supplies to bring along: Glue, craft paint, craft paint brushes, scissors, twine, string, craft paper, and ziploc bags.

Designate a time to be back by as well as the search perimeter (how far people can go away from the campsite). Always keep safety in mind! 

When everyone has safely returned to camp, you show the items gathered and brainstorm things to make. Ideas; Painted pine cones, nature smash painting, painting with leaves, or rock painting to name a few.

Added fun: have a contest for the best or worst or most useful item. The winner gets bragging rights. This could be Mom and crew against Dad and crew.

  • Load up on the camping supplies to be well prepared
  • Plan your campfire fun in advance and pack the necessities
  • Choose a camping location where hiking and swimming can be part of the adventure
  • Plan some campsite nature crafting so everyone will have a memento to take back and even more bonding time together

A family campsite with tents and a bonfire

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