6 ways to have fun camping
Whether it’s a backyard under the stars, a camper on wheels, or a tent in the woods, there’s no shortage of fun things to do when you’re camping. When you’re sleeping and eating outside, everything seems like a big adventure.
Someone once said that camping is “the art of getting closer to nature while getting farther away from the nearest cold beverage, hot shower, and flush toilet.” As with any type of travel or adventure, learn to go with the flow. Things that don’t seem “fun” at the moment often become so in our memories.
I once went camping near the Upper Gauley River in West Virginia. Our group camped for two nights as part of a whitewater rafting trip. Fun, right? What I remember is rain, Van Halen, and body odor.
Pouring rain soaked the inside of our tent. The “plumbing” at the campsite showers quit working so no one showered for two days. Plus, I spent both nights tossing and turning, listening to my husband’s snoring and the blaring Van Halen music that played all night, courtesy of the campers directly in back of us. I was exhausted and grumpy the next day. He slept well and was full of good humor and energy. Funny now, not then.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
Earthy. Soul enriching. Exhilarating. Camping can be both exasperating and wonderful, whether it’s in the woods, a campground, or in your backyard. Something special happens when you sleep outside.
Small moments become magical. Roasting marshmallows; brewing that first pot of campfire coffee or watching the sunrise. Isn’t that what camping memories are all about?
After all, it’s hard to beat the old standbys for things to do while camping:
- Take photographs
- Play cards, board games
- Read or tell ghost stories
- Ride bikes
- Play corn hole or horseshoes
- Swimming, canoeing, tubing, fishing
“The farther one gets into the wilderness, the greater is the attraction of its lonely freedom.”
More ways to have fun camping
#1 Explore and sense nature
Getting out in nature is soothing for the mind, body, and soul. Exploring scenic overlooks, waterfalls, creeks and wandering paths will make you feel like you really made the most of your camping experience. Along the way, see how many animals and birds (or evidence of them) you can spot.
It just feels good to be out in nature, moving, breathing, and sensing the beauty that’s around you. As you explore, consider these questions:
- Observe nature’s colors and textures. What stands out to you?
- Is there a particular landscape element that you look for at your campsite, like a waterfall or a certain type of tree or rock formation? Did you find one of those things on your hike today?
- For campers who are artistic, make a sketch of flowers or leaves you see on the trail, or perhaps a landscape you find particularly breathtaking.
- Have you seen a sunrise or a sunset while camping? Describe how it looked and how it made you feel.
- What animals have you spotted? Did any particular one surprise you?
These also make good questions if you’re keeping a camping journal (more on that later in this article).
#2 Collect nature’s “odds and ends”
Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed picking up little bits and pieces of nature wherever I visit. My treasures from Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio include pieces of moss, fossils, and a much-treasured large bird feather. I also collect empty birds’ nests (of course, they’re completely cleaned and dried out before they come inside.)
Here are some things to look for when you’re out on the trail.
Nature’s small treasures:
- feathers, rocks, fossils
- small pieces of wood or moss
- leaves, nuts, and nutshells
- unoccupied birds’ nests
- small twigs
- seedpods, pine cones, and dried flowers
#3 Take a few natural items home and create a nature box
Display what you’ve found by mounting your trail treasures in a shadow box. Or create a “nature box,” with a wooden box or a tray to display your objects. It’s a great way for kids to tell a story about where and how they discovered their treasures.
- Nature boxes can contain anything you like or find special in nature.
- They make interesting conversation starters and provide a way for you to “show and tell” about your trip.
- Arrange pinecones, interesting shaped stones, dried flowers, feathers, pieces of moss, branches, pieces of bark inside your box.
- Boxes don’t have to be fancy or complicated. When I was little, I kept empty shoeboxes for my treasures.
Each time you go camping, you can add to your collection. It’s fun to document your finds in a UniKeep camping journal.
#4 Cook a really tasting, filling meal over the campfire
You don’t have to dine on Ramen noodles, sandwiches, and junk. All it takes is a little bit of planning for a good pot of chili, a cheese and meat board, or eggs and potatoes. There’s a lot you can do with a skillet and a good stockpot.
The best way to simplify your camping meals is to plan what you’re going to eat ahead of time. Think about:
- How many meals you’ll eat
- Plan for snacks and drinks at the campsite and along the trail
- How many people you need to have food for
- What can you prep before you leave?
Remember that fresh air and activity make people really hungry, so pack more food than what you think you’ll need. There’s nothing that spoils a camping trip like grumbling tummies and attitudes.
# 5 Get artistic with nature
Kids and adults will have fun with this one. Harness your inner artist and use nature’s bounty to create artwork around your campsite. Create a mosaic of rocks, leaves, and twigs. Gather some interesting branches and grasses to “decorate” around your tent (you can also take these home to bring nature inside, too).
Here’s an idea for another fun camping activity: try your hand at creating your own rock cairn.
#6 Start a camping journal
Camping journals provide a way to reminisce years after your adventure is over. There’s something about writing down your thoughts and observations, at the moment, that gives more meaning in the years to come. Those thoughts represent who you were at that age, with those people, at that particular moment in time.
UniKeep’s compact Camping Journal/Planner provides a fun, easy way to document your fun camping activities.
Even though it’s compact in size, it’s a camping super performer. It can get tossed around, dropped, and taken along inside a backpack and still open and close as it should.
First of all, UniKeep’s camping journal mini-binder is made from sturdy, water-resistant polypropylene so it resists water and can’t get messy at the campsite. The case snaps closed so paper, photos, and whatever you put inside won’t fall out and get lost or damaged.
All-in-one camping memory keeper and journal
This camping journal is simply delightful, from the bright, colorful camping-themed artwork on the cover to the printed pages inside. It’s fun, colorful, and has pages for you to record 4 camping trips’ worth of memories.
What it includes:
- Packing lists & vehicle maintenance checklists
- Space for routes/travel details – gas expenses, campground phone numbers, confirmations
- Cooking supplies and meals, packing lists
- Campground ratings and review pages
- Pages for notes and campfire stories
- 20 mini page protectors
- Digitally printed, snap closing case binder
But the best thing? You can add accessories and personalize the camping binder however you want it. Simply purchase additional page protectors that are made in all configurations – smaller and larger pockets, pockets with a label, and single-pocketed pages.
Add UniKeep Mini Pages for camping photos and collectibles
Mini binder clear pocketed pages can be added into the camping journal so you can personalize it your way with mementos from your adventure.
- Add photos, sketches, notes, other paper camping documents like maps, badges, bumper stickers
- Pockets are sturdy enough for small rocks, stones, shells, dried berries, and feathers
- These small pockets are ideal for storing paper mementos such as torn ticket stubs to area attractions and rentals
- Also use these pockets to transport small craft items like beads, embellishments, and stickers if you plan to decorate your camping journal pages or have kids do some crafting at the campsite
Prompts are questions designed to help you think about experiences in a way you can write about them. They work well for any kind of journaling, but they can really help get your thoughts flowing when they’re themed around nature and having fun when you’re camping.
If you’re planning to personalize your UniKeep camping mini-binder, you can try these prompts to jumpstart your writing and then include the pages inside the binders page protectors.
- What do you smell? Are there any distinct scents in the air? What are they, and what do they remind you of?
- List all the wonderful – and not so much! – smells of camping – grilling, animals, leaves, trees, woodsmoke
- Describe what a nearby forest or woodland smells like.
- Taking a hike can help you tune out the hustle and bustle of daily routines and give you time to reflect on what’s going on in your life. As you take a moment far away from it all, what are you thinking about?
- Are you grateful for your ability to hike and enjoy the peace of nature? What else are you thankful for today?
- What’s your favorite memory involving nature? What makes the memory so special?
- Would you love to bring the spirit of nature home with you?
- What are some ways you could include nature in your daily life?
- What’s your favorite camp food? Why?
- Did you cook any special foods this trip? If yes, what were they?
- What things didn’t work so well when cooked over a campfire? Any epic fails?
Our connection to the natural world enriches us. Camping certainly is one way to experience it and we’ve given you some new fun ideas to try on your next adventure. We hope you’ll make some incredible memories and remember to take along your UniKeep Camping Journal.