Camping with your family is a great way to spend quality time together without any of the distractions of your busy life at home. You’ll spend your days hiking, swimming, and cooking over the campfire.
The good times don’t have to end when the sun goes down! There’s something exciting about being outside with the stars shining above you. And there are plenty of entertaining and fun things to do in the dark.
Take a look through our list. We’ve put together 21 fun camping activities to do at night with your family. No matter how old your kids are, there’s something here for everyone.
Activities and Games in the Dark
Does everyone still have a lot of energy after the sun has gone down? Good thing, because there are some great ways to spend time as a family, even in the dark.
1.Twinkling fairy lights
This will appeal to younger children and is a great way to start your first night of camping. Have your kids wait in the tent while you set up the campsite. String strands of twinkling LED lights around the camp. Put them in trees and bushes. Drape them over large rocks. Your kids will love the magical atmosphere you’ve created.
2. Night time swims
At the end of a long, hot day there’s something cooling and relaxing about swimming in the lake under the stars. Put on your swim suits, grab the towels, and head to the beach. There’s a special atmosphere to being in the water at night. Water seems to sound different, as it echoes in the dark. You and your family will love cooling down and splashing around before heading back to a cozy fire and hot cocoa.
3. Hiking in the dark
Adventures in the dark are fun for all ages. There’s a bit of a mysterious feeling to taking a walk in the dark. Start out using head lamps, lanterns, and flashlights to light your way. If it’s not cloudy and the moon is out, your eyes will quickly adjust to the dark. Explore the area around your campsite, along nearby paths, trails, and roads. Be sure to stop now and then and turn off all the lights. You just might hear the sounds of nocturnal critters roaming around in the dark.
4. Gazing at the stars
Living in cities, you don’t realize how many stars are up there. Now that you’re away from the bright lights of the city, stargazing is a must! Lay down on some blankets and just look up at the sky. See if you can find your favorite constellations. If your kids are budding astronomers, bring along an astronomy book so you can locate some lesser known stars and galaxies. Gazing at the stars is a great way to spend some quiet time with your family before calling it a night.
5. Flashlight hide-and-seek
Hide-and-seek is much more fun in the dark! One person is “it” and holds the flashlight. As “it” closes their eyes, everyone else quickly moves into the dark, hiding behind trees and bushes. After counting to 50, “it” turns on the flashlight and seeks the others. The first person found becomes the next “it.” The more people playing this hide in the dark game, the more fun it is. If there are other families camping in the sites next to you, this is a great way to get them involved as well! And meet new friends at the same time.
6. Flashlight scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are always fun, no matter where you’re hunting. Have everyone wait in the tent while you take a few minutes to hide some items around the campsite. Make sure the items will be easy to find by flashlight. Provide clues for everyone and give them a flashlight or lantern. Then let the hunting begin! Make sure that younger children go with someone older, so they don’t get confused and lost in the dark.
7. Bowling in the dark
Kids of all ages love playing this game. Bowling in the dark will keep everyone laughing. You can prepare for this game at home and just pack up all you need in with the rest of your camping gear. You’ll need six empty 2-liter plastic bottles. Place a glow stick in each bottle, using different colors if you can. Set the “pins” up anywhere it’s flat. And start bowling. Use a larger ball, such as soccer ball, for younger kids so they don’t get frustrated. For older kids and adults, a baseball will do just fine. Have prizes on hand for the highest scores.
8. Flashlight party dance
Who needs a disco ball when they have flashlights, a dark night, and the stars above? Use flashlights for kids – the ones that have colored lenses. Give everyone a flashlight, turn on some music and start dancing. This is the ideal way to wear out your kids if they still have a little too much energy at the end of the day. And don’t be shy. Insist that adults join in the dancing.
9. Glow stick ring toss
This is another great game for all ages once the sun goes down. You can make your own glow-in-the-dark ring toss game by picking up circular glow-in-the-dark sticks from the discount or party store. Then just pound some wooden pegs from the craft store into the ground. If you don’t want to make your own, glow-in-the-dark games are very affordable when bought online or at the toy store. If you’re buying, another good game for your camping trip is glow-in-the-dark darts.
Nighttime Activities in the Tent
Plan activities in the tent for nights when it’s raining. Or if you’re all settled into the tent but no one is quite ready to sleep just yet.
10. Shadow puppets and charades
Use a flashlight and bare space on the tent wall to make shadow puppets. With older kids, play a game of shadow charades. Choose a theme, such as movies. Have one person hold the flashlight while another uses their hands and body to act out the charade for everyone else to guess. This may be a simple activity, but it’s a nice way to spend some quiet time together before turning out the lights.
11. Board games
If you have room, pack along a few board games. Easier games if you have young kids and longer-playing games for the older ones. There are so many to choose from, but since you’ll have limited space bring along family favorites, such as Yahtzee, Snakes and Ladders, and Trouble. Or why not surprise everyone with a new game that you pick up just for your camping trip. You’ll have a lot of fun, and everyone’s full attention since you’re all sleeping together in the same tent!
12. Tenting bingo
Before leaving home, download and print out bingo cards with a camping theme. Print out pictures of the items on the cards that you’re going to call out. Cut them up and place them in a bowl. Collect some small rocks and pebbles from around the campsite to use as markers. And start playing tent bingo! This is a good game for smaller kids. At the end of a long day it’s an easy and relaxing game for them to play.
13. Family reading
Bring along a few books and get ready to read out loud. Have everyone get ready for bed, all tucked into their sleeping bags for the night. Choose one person to read by flashlight or lantern. Check out the library before your camping trip and find books that have a camping story. The books you choose will depend on the ages of your children. Good choices for younger children include “Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping” and “Curious George Goes Camping.” A good option for older children is “The Camp-Out Mystery – The Boxcar Children.”
14. Reading alone
If you’re a family that enjoys reading, have everyone bring along the current book they’re reading. This is just like family read-aloud time, but this time you’re reading on your own. The atmosphere in your tent will be nice and cozy, with everyone enjoying their own book before it’s lights out.
Fun Around the Campfire
The campfire is one of the best things about camping. The crackle and roar of the fire. The glow of flames in the darkness. There are some great activities you can do as you’re all sitting around the fire at night.
15. Music and songs
Making music and singing songs around the fire is a great way to get everyone involved. If anyone plays the guitar, be sure to bring it on your camping trip. Otherwise bring whatever instruments you have, such as bells, triangles, and harmonicas. Or grab a pot and use it as a drum. Improvising with what you have is half the fun! Get a beat going to popular campfire songs such as “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” or “Do Your Ears Hang Low.” Or sing any song that everyone knows. Any song sung around the fire becomes a campfire song!
16. Story telling
If you’ve been camping as a kid, you’ve no doubt sat around the campfire telling stories. It may seem a little old fashioned, but story telling is just as fun now as it was then. If your kids are up for it, have a ghost story or two handy. Everyone likes to be a little frightened in the dark. For younger children, tell stories that aren’t going to keep them up all night!
17. Noah’s ark
This game is ideal for the little ones, who always love a good giggle about animals. The first player starts by choosing one animal that starts with “A”, such as an alligator, going into the ark. The next player needs to pick two “B” animals for the ark, such as two bears. And on it goes. The younger ones might need some help with this game. Make things even more silly by allowing kids to make up animals of their own.
18. I Spy by flashlight
Another flashlight game to play in the dark. Give everyone a head lamp or flashlight. While everyone else has their eyes closed, the first person in the game uses their light to spy something around the campfire and campsite for the others to find. Make it more fun by using the flashlights with colored lenses!
19. Games around the fire
Sometimes at the end of a long day you just want to sit back and enjoy some quieter time with your family. Playing games around the fire is a nice way to end the day. Choose games that don’t require any set up and then everyone can play as they’re sitting around the fire pit. Some simple game ideas for all ages include:
- Truth or dare
- Card games, such as Uno, Go Fish, and Old Maid
20. Family chatter
We don’t often get an opportunity to just sit down with our family and talk…about whatever comes to mind. Even during the day when you’re camping, you’re busy and on the go as you hike and bike and swim. At night around the campfire, with no other sounds around but the fire, is the perfect time to just engage with each other. Talk about your time camping. What was everyone’s favorite part of the day. This is why you came on your camping trip in the first place – to spend quality time together as a family.
21. It’s marshmallow time!
What child or adult doesn’t like roasting marshmallows around the campfire after spending a fun day outside? And once those marshmallows are nicely toasted, have chocolate and graham crackers ready to make s’mores. These melt in your mouth marshmallow treats have become a camping classic.
Nighttime Fun is the Best Time!
With these 21 camping activities to do at night with your family, you won’t soon run out of things to do! If you’re camping for a few nights plan for a couple of different activities on each night. And with all these fun things to do, the best time of your camping trip might just be when the sun goes down…and the moon and stars come out!