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We asked Diane Matheson of Five Oaks Summer Camp in Paris, Ontario, to share some ideas to inspire your camping trip activities, including options for every energy level.
1. Leave your mark in nature with rock crafts
Make like cave people and practise your rock inscriptions. Or bring a box of chalk on your trip for a more kid-friendly alternative to engraving.
"By using sidewalk chalk on a large flat rock or on a series of smaller flat rocks, families can create pictographs to tell the story of their camping adventure," says Matheson. "Photos can be taken of the pictographs so that the rocks can be cleared and left for the next visitors to enjoy."
A series of small rocks could also be used as the panels of a comic strip while a rock wall or boulder could be used as the backdrop for a large mural the whole family can work on together.
2. Put an action-packed spin on campfire storytelling
Storytelling games pump up the fun of a campfire. Telephone is a classic game where one person whispers a message to the person beside them, who then relays the message to the person beside them until it reaches the last person who states the message out loud.
For a more active twist on the game, try adding some movement. "At Five Oaks, we play a variation of Telephone called 'Mime it Down the Line,'" says Matheson.
"Instead of whispering something to the next person in line, we act something out. The person who sees the action then passes it on to the next person, whose back has been turned," she explains. "When the final person sees the action, he or she must act out what they saw so the family can see how the action has evolved. This game is especially fun when it's a little bit dark, making the actions harder to see."
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover three more fun and creative games for family camping trips on page 2.
3. Have a gourmet dinner party by the fire
Roughing it in the great outdoors doesn't mean you can't have stellar meal experiences. An interactive dinner of appetizers inspired by restaurant fare will turn mealtime into a party.
"Snack-size bags of various flavours of Doritos, paired with cooked ground beef, cheese, lettuce and a little bit of salsa, make for a fun variation on tacos," says Matheson.
Assemble each flavour of chip with toppings of your choice to create kid-size taco bites, then have a taste test to see which flavours pair best. As for dessert, a gourmet twist on s'mores could include dipping marshmallows into a pot of melted chocolate and then rolling them in graham cracker crumbs. The key is to have fun with your camping meals and get everyone involved in the cooking or food prep.
4. Go on a digital camera scavenger hunt
If you want to do a scavenger hunt around your campsite, but don't want to disturb the natural state of the forest, Matheson has an eco-friendly solution.
"At Five Oaks we like to do scavenger hunts, but instead of gathering items up we take digital photos of them," she says.
This version of a scavenger hunt allows you to leave your campsite as you found it and preserve your memories as you go. Some of the items on Matheson's scavenger hunt list include a seed, something fuzzy, something empty, something flat, something edible, something smooth, something hairy, something that floats and someone you love.
5. Preserve family memories as you go with a field journal
Why wait until you get home to start a scrapbook showcasing your adventures? Bring along a working field journal that everyone can contribute to as you hike, swim and see wildlife.
"Keeping a field journal with words and pictures of animals and other wildlife you encounter rather than collecting items in a jar is a fun and eco-friendly way to keep track of all your camping adventures," says Matheson.
Plus, recording your experiences as they happen makes for more vivid memories, she explains. Designate time for each member of the family to draw, write or doodle in the journal. Or as you sit by the fire at the end of each day get your kids to share their favourite parts of the day while you scribe them into a family journal.
Whether you're heading to a trailer, family cabin or provincial park, a family camping trip is one of the best ways to make the most of summer. Make sure your camping trip doesn't include a dull moment -- even if that means just getting mesmerized by a crackling fire.
For more camping tips, expert advice and guides to some of the best campgrounds in Canada, visit our guide to the great Canadian outdoors.