With so many distractions such as video games, TVs and computers drawing kids inside, it is tough to get them into the fresh air, let alone encourage them to play even when you are camping. To get your children to put down the electronics and go outside to play, try appealing to their creative side. Challenge them to use what's around the yard or campground to set up a game for all to play. Give them a few examples or let them create something totally new.
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is a game that kids of all ages can play. There is no need for special equipment for this game. It can all be done with things around the house or campground. Two pieces of cloth or bandannas, which can be tied around two sticks to make flags, are all that is needed. The flags are placed on opposite ends of a field, and the kids are separated into two teams. Each team tries to get the other team's flag without being captured. If a player is captured, she is taken to jail. Use small rocks or sticks to make a jail area on each side of the play area for captured players. When one team captures the other team's flag and gets it back across to its side, the game is over.
Make an obstacle course and time the kids going through it. The course can be built out of whatever you have on hand. Have the kids run around chairs, crawl under a jump rope, jump over camp coolers, swing on a rope or whatever else you can come up with. Kids love to race, and obstacle courses make it fun--and sometimes funny. If you have some plain paper on hand, you could draw up some awards for the winners, most improved or funniest run-through.
Make up a scavenger hunt to find things around a field or campground. Depending on the ages, you can make the list of items simple such as a leaf or more difficult such as an oak leaf. Divide the kids into two or more teams, depending on your numbers, but make sure that small children have at least one responsible older person in their group to keep them safe. If you have a couple of digital cameras or camera phones, you can take pictures of the items instead of collecting them. This way, more items can be added to the list, such as types of trees, items in a camp store or large items that cannot be moved or taken.
Set up some squares on the ground with sticks. Make the squares different sizes and different distances. Assign points for each square. Draw a line in the ground that the players cannot cross, and have each child select a small rock. The object of the game is to score the most points by having the rocks land inside the squares. If the rock bounces out, the toss doesn't count. Decide how many tosses each player will have and add up the totals of all their tosses to get their total score.