Camp Games for Small Groups

Camp Games for Small Groups

Here are 20 camping games for every small group. 

1. Eye Contact

To play Eye Contact, gather everyone in a circle and explain the rules. There is one rule in this game: you can't meet anyone's eyes. To play, one person counts down to three. On "three," everyone has to look at someone else in the circle. If two people look at each other, they both have to sit down. Players can't coordinate during the game, ensuring that the game relies solely on intuition and luck.  

Eye Contact is a great game for camping because you won't need any equipment. It's also easy to explain and a fast game to play. 

eye contact


2. Camping Charades 

Love playing Charades? There's no reason why you can't bring the classic family game outdoors. Charades is a great camping game because it ensures that everyone is involved in the activity. It also works for both a small group or a large group.  

To play, prepare a bag of random camping-related words or phrases. Starting with the person with the closest birthday, someone will come to the front of the group and choose a random phrase; they must act out the word without speaking. 

In more competitive Charades games, players might use hand signals to help the other players learn what words to guess when guessing a phrase. However, for camping charades, make it simple. Hold up fingers to show how many words are in the phrase and then start acting.  

Some great phrases to use in this game include: 

  • Telling scary stories by the campfire 
  • Roasting marshmallows 
  • Fishing 
  • Setting up a tent 
  • Family bonding 

Be creative and come up with a long list of words and phrases that all relate to camping. 



3. Pass the Water 

To play Pass the Water, you will need plastic cups for every player and a tub of water. Also, beware that all players will get soaked while playing this game.  

Split the group into two teams and line up so that the person at the front of the line stands in front of a bucket. The first person fills their cup with water to start the game and then holds it over their head. They try to pour their cup into the cup of the person behind them while the person behind them tries to catch the water in their own cup.  

This process continues until the water makes it to the back of the line. The last person pours the leftover water into a bucket. The players continuously pass cups of water down the line throughout the activity until one team fills up the bucket. The first team to fill the bucket wins. 



4. Scavenger Hunt 

Hosting a camping scavenger hunt is a great activity for younger kids. For this activity, you will need to pair up an older child or adult with the younger children to ensure that the kids aren't wandering the forest by themselves.  

Give each pair a list of items to find. Some items can be brought back to camp, while campers should leave others out in the forest. For example, if you have "butterfly" on your list, the pairs don't need to bring a butterfly back to camp; they only need to see one for it to count. Other items, such as "a stick smaller than your pinky," can be brought back to the camp as proof.  

The first pair to cross all the items off their list win the activity. 



5. Telling Campfire Stories

Sitting around the campfire at night telling stories is a classic camping activity for both a youth group summer camp or a family outing. Adults, older kids, and younger kids will all be enthralled by the stories, as long as you make sure they're age-appropriate. Don't tell spooky stories around very young kids or you could risk ruining their camping experience.

The stories could be real or made up. They can be urban or fantastical. You can also invite the kids to tell stories rather than rely only on the adults as the storytellers. Bring out a sleeping bag for the younger kids to keep them warm as you tell stories until their eyes droop. 


camp fire


6. Going on a Trip

Gather everyone in a circle and explain the rules. In this game, you're all going on a trip and need to bring an extensive list of items. The items must all be in alphabetical order. The starting person might say, "I'm going on a trip and need to bring an apple." The next could then say, "I'm going on a trip and need to bring an Apple and my Bandana." The third person would then say, "I'm going on a trip and need to bring an Apple, my Bandana, and my Cat." Get the game? 

The game continues until one person forgets one of the items or can't think of an item that begins with the right letter. 



7. Camping Olympics

The perfect camp activity for any camping trip is Camping Olympics. Camping Olympics could take up an entire day and keep every kid entertained. 

For this, you will need to devise a variety of tasks that the kids need to complete. The first person who completes the task wins a point for that round. Count up all the points at the end of the day to reward the winner.  

Some great examples for this outdoor game include: 

  • The first person to swim to a specific point and back wins a point. 
  • The person to find the smallest stick throughout the day wins a point. 
  • The person to complete an obstacle course first wins a point. 
  • The person to build the best pixie house wins a point. 

There are nearly endless camp activities to include in this game. Hopefully, this will be the kids' favorite game by the end of the trip. 



8. Black Magic 

Don't worry—you're not going to be doing any real magic in this game. Black Magic is a fun "magic trick" that the kids have to figure out. To play, you will need two people who know how to play. The majority of the group isn't allowed to know the game. If more than two people know the game, this activity won't work. 

The two people who know how to play the game start the game. To explain the game, we will call the leader P1 and the other person who knows the game P2. P2 leaves the area and is the "guesser." While they're out of hearing range, the rest of the group decides on an object such as a specific log lying nearby.  

The group calls back P2 and P1 leads by saying, "The name of the game is Black Magic." Then, they point at something and ask, "Is it this blanket." P2 shakes their head. P1 continues pointing at objects until they point at a black object that isn't the chosen object. The chosen object will always be the one directly after the black object.  

All the kids will be in awe and think there's actual magic involved. Do several more rounds and encourage the kids to figure out the trick. 

Here's an example of a game when the object is a log: 

P1: "The name of the game is Black Magic. Is it this shoe?" 

P2: "Nope." 

P1: "Is it this green tent?" 

P2: "No." 

P1: "Is it this black ribbon?" 

P2: "Nope." 

P1: "Is it this log?" 

P2: "Yes!"

 black magic


9. Camouflage 

The game of Camouflage is similar to Hide and Seek, with a unique twist. The game starts with a camp leader standing in the middle of the area. They close their eyes and count to a predetermined number. While they have their eyes closed, the kids run and hide. The camp leader opens their eyes and starts looking for the campers. Here's where the twist comes into play.  

Rather than staying hidden, the kids try to sneak back to the camp without the camp counselor noticing. The first camper to make it back to a predetermined spot wins the game. If the camp counselor finds the kid before they make it back, they lose their chance to win the game.  

Camouflage is best played in woody areas rather than a clearing. The kids will need plenty of trees, hills, and holes to hide while trying to sneak their way back to their home base. 



10. Duck, Duck, Goose, Water!

Duck, Duck, Goose is a classic game popular among young kids. To play, the kids gather in a circle and sit on the ground. One of the players starts as It. He or she walks around the circle tapping the other players on the head. When she taps someone, she says, "Duck" or "Goose." When she taps someone and says, "Goose!" the player (now called Goose) stands up and tries to tag her.  

If she can make it back to the player's now empty spot before they tag her, she sits, and Goose becomes the new It.   

With Duck, Duck, Goose, Water, players carry a cup of water. Instead of tapping Goose on the head, they dip the cup of water on their head. This game is perfect for camping outdoors in the hot summertime. 



11. Glow in the Dark Toss 

For this game, you will need several water bottles and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets. It's also best to play this game after the sun has set and outside the ring of firelight. 

Set up the water bottles in a triangle pattern and give each water bottle a certain number of points. The water bottles closest to the thrower are one point, and the bottles furthest away are five points. Snap the glow-in-the-dark bracelets and use them as rings for a ring toss. Give the bracelets to the campers and let them throw them at the water bottles, keeping track of their points.  

This game is simple, easy, and doesn't require much preparation. There also aren't many rules that kids need to learn, making it ideal for small groups of young campers. 

 glow in the dark


12. Werewolf

Werewolf is one of the best games for camping because you don't need any equipment. To play, gather everyone in a circle (there must be at least five people willing to play). Someone will need to narrate the game rather than directly participate in what happens.  

Have the narrator stand up while everyone else sits in a circle with their eyes closed. The narrator will then walk around the circle and choose a role for each person. Players can be villagers, detectives, doctors, or werewolves. For every four people participating, there is one werewolf. So, if playing with eight people, you will have two werewolves, one detective, one doctor, and four villagers.  

The narrator will walk around the circle after the group closes their eyes and tap everyone on the head. If you tap someone once, they are a villager; if you tap someone twice, they are a detective; if you tap someone three times, they are a doctor; and if you tap someone four times, they are a werewolf.  

After assigning roles, ask everyone to keep their eyes closed. Then say, "Sheriff, raise your hand." Go through each of the roles to make sure you handed out the right number of roles. If incorrect, reassign the roles.  

Now, have everyone open their eyes and begin weaving a story. The fun behind Werewolf is the narrator's ability to weave a narrative into the characters' actions. 

The narrator instructs the group that it's nighttime and everyone should close their eyes. The narrator then says, "Werewolf, open your eyes." The werewolf member opens their eyes and points to the person they want to kill. The narrator tells them to close their eyes. Then, they call the doctor and ask who they want to save and then asks the detective who they want to inspect. If the detective inspects the werewolf, the narrator shakes their head yes.  

After this, the narrator wakes everyone up and tells a story of what happened that night. Then, everyone discusses and chooses someone to throw out of town. If they throw out the werewolf, they win. The werewolf's goal is to be the last one standing while everyone else tries to get the werewolf out. 



13. Catch or Don't Catch

Catch or Don't Catch is a simple version of Simon Says. To play, choose one person to be Speaker. Everyone else gathers in a circle around the Speaker. The Speaker takes a ball and tosses it underhand to one of the other campers. As they throw the ball, the Speaker says either, "Catch" or "Don't catch." The person must listen to what the Speaker says. If they catch the ball when the Speaker says don't catch, then the player is out of the game.  

The game continues until only a few people are left. The Speaker then chooses the next Speaker, and they switch places for the game to reset. 

 throwing a ball


14. Follow the Leader 

Follow the Leader is one of the easiest games to play at a campground. Whether you're camping with young kids or teenagers, everyone will be laughing at this silly game. To play, simply elect someone to start as the leader. Everyone else follows behind the leader and mimics exactly what the leader does.  

This activity will thrill young kids as they lead adults around the campfire, all acting like monkeys mimicking their leader. 



15. Murder in the Dark 

Murder in the Dark is a hilarious game for all campers. To play, a camp leader, parent, or camp counselor chooses one person to be a detective. The detective takes their place in the center of the circle and closes their eyes. The camp leader then points at a camper to be the murderer. Once the murderer is chosen, the detective can open their eyes. 

The murderer kills people by winking at them. They must make eye contact with another camper and wink. The camper then dies very loudly and dramatically. The detective must figure out who the murderer is. The campers try not to give away who the murderer is. If the detective accuses someone who isn't the murderer, that person dies. If there are only two people left, the murderer wins. 



16. Card Games

Card games are a camping staple. All you need is a deck or two of cards, and you're ready to play. Cards present unlimited games for you to choose from. You can play Speed, Egyptian Rat Slap, King's Corners, Uno, or Go Fish, all with one deck of cards.  

Before leaving on your camping trip, look up ways to turn a deck of cards into an exciting game that everyone can participate in. Most games are best with four to five people, making it one of the best games for small camping groups. 

 card games


17. One Minute 

One Minute is a fun game for when you're trying to calm down the group of kids. It's also a great game if you're waiting to start another camp game.  

Ask the kids if they know how long a minute is. Of course, each camper will emphatically say that they know how long a minute is. You're going to put this to the test.  

Watch the time on your watch and tell the kids to raise their hands after they think a minute has passed. The camper who guesses the closest to one minute wins the round. Do this activity again and again until you're ready for the next camp game.

 one minute


18. Five in Ten 

Five in Ten is a surprisingly hard game, perfect for both young kids and older participants. You will need no props to play. 

You will need one person to lead the activity but not directly participate in it. They will choose categories and keep track of the player's points. To play, they write down a number list of categories. Some good categories for this game include: 

  • Shapes 
  • Animals 
  • Shoe brands 
  • Celebrity names 
  • Star Wars characters 

Starting with the person who has the closest birthday, they will say a number corresponding to a category. The leader will then count down from ten while the person says five things that fit into the category. If they say five things in ten seconds, they move on to the next round.  

Although the game seems simple, it isn't easy. As soon as the leader begins counting, players feel pressure, which makes it difficult to think straight. Regardless, it's a fun game for people of all ages. 

 kids playing


19. Cloud Watching

While camping, it's important to appreciate the nature around you. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the area is by cloud gazing. It's a straightforward activity that is exciting for kids and relaxing for adults. When with young kids, bring notepads for the kids to draw out the shapes they see. Throughout the camping trip, encourage the kids to keep track of any cool cloud shapes in their Cloud Journal.  

This activity will encourage young kids to learn to love nature and appreciate the subtle beauties. Cloud watching is easy, fun, and a great game for small groups. 



20. Lion's Cub

Lion's Cub is the perfect game to play with young campers. To play, you will need a stuffed animal toy to encourage the kids' imaginations. One player starts as the lion. They sit away from the group with their back turned and the toy placed behind them. The rest of the group sits several feet away.   

One at a time, the players try to sneak up on the lion and snatch the lion's cub (the stuffed animal). However, if the lion thinks they hear someone sneaking up, they can turn around and growl. If they catch someone sneaking, that person becomes the lion.  

Because the group is out camping in the wild, pretending to be lions will be exciting. It's a great game for younger campers and encourages imagination.



*Bonus Games*

9 Square

Another great game for the outdoors is 9 square. It's similar to 4 square but nine people can play and the squares are in the air suspended by poles. Everyone stands under their own square and the goal is to not let the ball fall down into your square. It's a great game that people of all ages can enjoy. 


Gaga Ball

A fun game that you might not have heard of is Gaga Ball. Gaga Ball is similar to dodgeball within a netted area. The goal is to not get out. You can get out if the ball bounces out of the pit after touching you, if you touch touch the ball twice in a row, if the ball touches your legs, or if you hold the ball. It's one of the great games made by Castle Sports.

Camp Games for Small Groups

Ian Boggess

About the Author

Ian has been with Castle Sports for the last 4 years. He loves designing games for fitness and activity that get the whole group involved.

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