Games to Play in a Tent

Games to Play in a Tent
Krrrrrraaaasssssshhhhhhhhh!! The sound of thunder! A cooling rain. The wind singing through the trees. Flashes of lightning, cutting the humidity, lowering the temperature, feeding plants. Just the type of storm to watch from the porch or through the family room window. Snuggle down with a book and cup of tea and ... wait! You're in a tent, it's pouring on the campground, and the kids are in this confined shelter with you. "What do we do now?"

Once Upon A Time

Everybody likes fairy tales. The story has heroes of both sexes, villains, magic, pathos, ethos, tension and a happy ending where everything works out well in the end. Just like TV. What happens when the whole family puts their efforts into the fairy tale? That's the game "Once Upon A Time."

After choosing who goes first (rock-paper-scissors, pick a number or volunteer), the first player starts the story with "Once upon a time ... " and finishes the paragraph (3 to 4 sentences). It might go:

"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle. She had a dog that was her best friend, a cat she loved, and everything she could ask for."

The next player fills in the next paragraph, and so on. Someone has to be the "editor" and ensure that as the story develops, there is an introduction of characters, a setting, a tension-causing event (a quest, rescue, difficult task), conflict, resolution of the conflict and a logical ending. This keeps someone from making the second paragraph, "She lived happily ever after."

As the story progresses, there are two ways to "win" the game. One is that the person who arrives at a point to make a logical conclusion to the story can end it and win. This puts a burden on players at the end to try and keep tension or conflict so that the next person has to continue the story. In the other version, the person forced to end the story is not the winner, and so creativity is needed to continue the story by adding new conflicts or tension and dragging out the plot.


Camp Libs

Remember Mad Libs? Ahhh, there's a dim light in the cobwebs of memory. There are a couple of ways of doing this. The quick-start method is to take a piece of paper and number 1 to 12 down the side. Randomly mark four of the numbers "N" for noun, four more "V" for verb, four each of "A" adjective and "D" or "B" for adverb. Go around the group of players asking for a word to fill in the appropriate type of word--but so no one can remember the order, ask for four nouns, then four verbs, and so on. Then the player going first takes the word at #1 and makes up a sentence that uses that word. The next player has to take the word in the second slot and make a sentence that (a) is a (sort of) logical extension of the first sentence and (b) uses the next word. The process repeats until all 12 sentences have structured a story. There are no winners or losers, just lots of laughs. One suggestion is to leave space between words on the list so that the list can be fan-folded so that only the current and previously used words can be seen.

Hand-made Charades

Team up to play Charades, but no one can stand up to do it; it has to be accomplished with hands and facial expressions or movement above the waist.

Word Trace

Take turns spelling a word with your finger on the next player's back and see if he or she can guess what you are spelling. Keep the words appropriate in length for the age of participants.

Madly Poetic

With the same approach as the Camp Libs game, collect eight words for each person. Give each person his or her eight words, and they have to make an eight-line poem with each line using the words in consecutive order. Variations include using four words, requiring that the words be used in rhyming couplets:

1-First word
2-Rhyme first word
3-Second word
4-Rhyme second word
and so on.

What Am I?

Each participant imitates an animal, and the others must guess which animal.


Article Written By Eric Jay Toll

Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.

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