Campsite Games for the Family
In the pond, out of the pond
How to play…
- You’ll need one caller and everyone else will need to sit in a circle around the campfire with their hands on the tops of their thighs.
- The caller will say one of three things, in no particular order:
- “In the pond” — everyone puts their hands forwards into the circle (the pond!)
- “Out of the pond” — everyone puts their hands in the air above their heads
- “On the bank” — everyone puts their hands on their thighs
- If anyone moves their hands to the wrong place or at the wrong time then they are out of the game and have to sit on their hands until there is only one person left in, who is the winner!
The Telephone Game / Chinese whispers
Late-night games around the fire don’t get any better than this classic. It’s one of the best kids’ campfire games to play if you need to keep the noise down. That said, it can also get pretty silly with a constant risk that eruptions of laughter will kill the tranquility!
How to play…
- One person thinks of phrase. They can make it as simple or complex as they like. But if it starts silly then it’s likely to only get sillier!
- The starting person whispers the phrase into the ear of the person sitting next to them. They are not allowed to repeat themselves.
- Whatever has been heard by the listener must then be whispered to the next person, and so-on.
- Once the phrase has been passed all round the circle the last person says it out loud to the whole group. The results can be rather interesting!
If you’ve got some drama kings and queens in your group then a game of wink murder will keep them happy for hours!
How to play…
- One person, the ‘detective’, leaves the campfire so that they are out of earshot.
- The rest of the group choose one person to be the ‘murderer’. Everyone should know who this person is.
- The detective is invited back to join the circle to observe as a dramatic crime scene unfolds around them.
- The murderer ‘kills’ other members of the group by winking at them. If the victim sees the murderer winking at them they must ‘die’. This can be done as dramatically as the victim pleases! Or they can just close their eyes and let their head droop to the side.
- The detective must get to work quickly to figure out who the murderer is before the whole group has been eradicated! If they do this, then they win the game and a new detective is chosen.
- If the murderer manages to wipe out the whole group without being found out then they win the game and become the next detective.
Charades is once of the best family campfire games out there. The general gist of the game is for one person to act out the title of a play, book, song, TV show or movie to the rest of the group. However, they are not allowed to speak or make any noises whatsoever! Everyone plays it in a different way with different rules. But once you’re all on the same page it is one of those campfire games that can go on forever.
The first person to guess what is being acted out becomes the next ‘performer’. Some people keep score to determine who will be an Oscar nominee of the future! And it can also be played in teams or to a timer to up the competition. But most games are played for the fun and silliness of it!
If you’re playing with children then it’s a good idea to have a few ideas written down for them to pick out of a hat. Otherwise, thinking of things to act out can stop the game before it’s even got going. You can even add a theme to the game.
Name that song
Name that song is one of the best campfire games if there’s a musician in the group — one of those types who can play any song on the guitar, on demand! They simply play a short riff, intro, or section of a song and the rest of the group has to guess what the song is as quickly as possible. It can be done in teams or you can score individually.
Alternatively, it can be played in a more inclusive (and potentially less tuneful) way. But there’s little doubt it will certainly be more entertaining! Write down a load of popular songs on scraps of paper and place them in a hat. On your turn you have to pull a song out of the hat and sing it to the rest of the group, regardless of how well you can (or can’t) sing.
Warning: This game is best played earlier in the evening or on a campground that has no-one else on it!
Numbers is one of the silliest and most simple campfire games out there…
How to play…
- The aim of the game is to count out loud, as a group, from 1 to as high as possible without any two people saying the same number at the same time… go!
- Anyone can speak at any time saying any number of numbers, so long as they are in order from 1 upwards. There can be no pointing or gesturing to indicate who will be the next person to speak.
- As soon as two people say a number at the same time you have to start again. Can you get to 100?!
I went to market…
This is an excellent campfire game for families to play. And a good one to test the old memory! I like to play it based around a camping theme.
How to play…
- Person one starts by saying “I went to market and bought….” (a camping item beginning with the letter ‘A’) eg: “an awning”.
- Person two says the same as person one (“I went to market and bought an awning”) but they also add a camping item beginning with the letter ‘B’.
- Person three says what person two said but adds a camping item beginning with the letter ‘C’. And so-on.
- When someone gets it wrong they are out of the game.
Celebrities (hat game)
The hat game is one of the best campfire games for kids and families to play in teams, as kids will have different knowledge to the adults making them have to work together to win the game.
How to play…
- To set up the game, everyone must write down the names of 5 to 10 well-known celebrities on pieces of scrap paper. These are put in a hat and mixed up.
- One person from team one has a minute to describe as many of the celebrity names to their team as possible. BUT, they are only allowed to use 3 words for each celebrity they pick out of the hat. No gesticulations or noises can be made and they are allowed to pass only once during their turn.
- All the correctly guessed names are counted and recorded. None of the names are put back in the hat.
- The other team then gets to do the same.
- Once everyone in the each team has had a turn at being the ‘describer’, all the names are put back into the hat and everyone gets to go again. In this round, however, the describer is only allowed to use ONE word!
- In the final round, the describer isn’t allowed to use ANY words!
- Keep score after each round and tally up the total at the end of the game to declare the winning team.
This is probably one of the most ridiculous campfire games we’ve played recently. But it’s very simple, making it a good one for all generations to play together. Plus, it gives kids free reign to laugh at the adults making fools of themselves!
How to play
- To set up the game, one person allocates themselves with the name of a vegetable. The next person in the circle does the same and so on, until everyone has a different vegetable name.
- One person starts by saying their own vegetable name (let’s say it’s pumpkin), twice, followed by the vegetable name of someone else’s vegetable out loud, twice. Eg: “pumpkin, pumpkin, avocado, avocado”.
- Whoever is avocado says their own name twice and then picks someone else’s vegetable to say out loud, twice. Eg: “avocado, avocado, carrot, carrot”
- Carrot does the same thing, and so on.
- The catch is that, whenever you’re speaking, you’re not allowed to show your teeth.
- The game can either carry on like this or rules can be made about teeth showing where people are out of the game should they show their pearly whites and then also if they say a vegetable that is out of the game!