Few thing brings campers together at the end of the day like a blazing fire. But what do you do once you circle up the camp chairs and douse yourselves in bug spray?
There are s’mores of course. (Check out these 12 versions of the classic camp dessert from The Kitchn.) Or try a fireside cocktail like The Smoky Bear. Once it gets dark enough, you can also stargaze using an astronomy app like SkyView.
But if you’re looking to put the screens away and enjoy time together, old-fashioned group games might be just what you’re looking for. Whether you’re spending the weekend at your favorite campsite or hosting a backyard bonfire, here are games to play around a campfire that require minimal supplies and prep. (You know, unlike camping itself.)
Most of the following games work best when players are seated in a circle. With the exception of #10 for obvious reasons.
1. Guess Who?
In this guessing game, each player has to figure out which well-known person they are.
Supplies: Sticky notes (1 per player), pen or marker
How to Play: Without showing anyone else, each player writes the name of a well-known person on a sticky note. (The person can be a celebrity, historical figure, or just someone everyone in the group knows.) Next, each player passes the name (facedown!) to the person on his or her left. Without looking at the names, players attach the sticky notes to their foreheads so the other players can read them. Players must guess who they are by asking other players “yes” or “no” questions about the name on their own foreheads. (For example: Am I an actor? Did I write a book?) The first person to guess who they are wins.
2. Fortunately and Unfortunately
In this just-for-fun storytelling game, no one wins. (Or maybe, everyone does?)
How to Play: The first player begins the story by making a positive statement. (“Fortunately, I won a trip around the world!”) The next player has to make a statement that continues the story but negates the first statement. (“Unfortunately, I had to wear a clown costume the whole time.”) Each person continues adding to the story, alternating with positive and negative statements. The game ends when the story reaches a happy (or unhappy!) ending. You choose.
Also known as “Werewolf”—which is a much better name for a game you play in the woods anyway—Mafia is a classic large-group game that puts your bluffing skills to the test. Think of it as a murder-mystery game for minimalists. The rules sound complicated at first, but don’t worry. The best way to learn it is to play.
Supplies: A deck of cards
How to Play: Like I said, it’s complicated. You can find the full rules here.
4. Pass the Dance
This game is a little like the game Telephone . . . except you have to dance.
Supplies: Music isn’t necessary but it might help
How to Play: The first person does a dance move (jazz hands, moonwalk, high kick, etc.). The next person in line does the first person’s dance move and adds their own. Keep going around the circle adding dance moves until everyone has added one. When you reach the end, everyone has to do the whole sequence together as one “dance routine.”
5. Zip Boing
No technical knowledge or skill required for this game, just the ability to keep a straight face.
How to Play: Someone starts the game by saying the word “zip.” The player to the left can either say “zip” or “boing.” The word “zip” continues play in its current direction around the circle. The word “boing” reverses the direction. The challenge is that no one is allowed to show his or her teeth (or laugh!) when they speak and—with play continually changing directions—you have to make sure not to miss your turn. Players are eliminated if they show their teeth, laugh, or miss their turn. Keep playing until one person is left.
6. Name Dropper
Players have to think fast and speak fast in this celebrity name game.
How to Play: To start, someone says the first and last name of a celebrity. (Let’s say, Angelina Jolie.) The person to the player’s left has 15 seconds to name a celebrity whose first name starts with the same letter as the previous celebrity’s last name. (Jimmy Fallon!) If a person can’t think of a name before the 15 seconds are up, they’re out. Keep going around the circle until there’s only one person left.
7. What Would You Do?
Test your acting muscles in a charades game with an outdoors twist.
Supplies: Scratch paper (3 pieces per player), pens/pencils, bowl
How to Play: Divide into two teams and give three pieces of scratch paper to each player. Have each person write down three different scenarios that could happen in the great outdoors such as: you get chased by a bear, a squirrel steals your lunch, you get poison ivy, etc. Place each piece of paper in a bowl. Choose a player from Team 1 and set a timer for 45 seconds. On “Go!” the player pulls a paper from the container and has to act out the scenario that’s written on the paper (no talking allowed!) Similar to charades, the player’s teammates need to guess what the player is doing. If their team guess correctly before the time runs out, the player chooses another piece of paper. The same player keeps acting out scenarios until time’s up. The team gets a point for each scenario they guess correctly. Switch to a player from the other team and reset the timer for 45 seconds. Keep playing until there are no pieces of paper left in the bowl.
8. I Went On a Camping Trip
The best recall wins in this throwback memory game.
How to Play: Someone starts the game by saying, “I went on a camping trip and brought a ______.” (They fill in the blank with any item they want. For example, “tent.”) The next person repeats what the first person said and adds their own item. (For example, “I went on a camping trip and brought a tent and bug spray.”) Play continues around the circle with each person repeating everything that was said before and then adding their own item to the list. Players are eliminated whenever they can’t repeat the list correctly. Keep playing until one person is left.
No campfire? No problem. This card game works best at a picnic table anyway.
Supplies: A deck of cards, spoons (one less than the number of players), picnic table
How to Play: Deal four cards to each player and stack the remaining cards facedown in the center. Place the spoons in the center so they’re within everyone’s reach. (You’ll need one less spoon than the number of players.) The goal of the game is to get four-of-a-kind in your hand. To begin, the first player draws a card from the deck. The must quickly decide whether to keep the card or not. Either way, they have to pass one card to the person on their left (either the new card or one from their hand). Play continues clockwise around the circle. As soon as someone gets four-of-a-kind, they grab a spoon. If someone grabs a spoon, everyone else must grab a spoon as quickly as possible (even if they don’t have four-of-a-kind). Whoever doesn’t grab a spoon in time is out. Put the spoons back in the center and remove one. (Remember, the number of spoons should always be one less than the number of players.) Keep playing until one person is left.
10. Glow Bowling
If sitting’s not your style, try a glow-in-the-dark yard game.
Supplies: 10 plastic bottles, water, 10-20 glow sticks, sports ball (soccer ball, volleyball, etc.)
How to Play: Fill each bottle halfway with water, drop a glow stick or two inside each one, and replace the caps. Set up the bottles like bowling pins. Then use a ball to try to knock them down. (You might want to add some reflective tape to the ball—unless you want to lose the ball in the dark and play the world’s shortest game.) If you have extra glow sticks you can also use the same bottles to play glow-in-the-dark ring toss. Bonus!
DID WE MISS ANY?
Comments are open, so please feel free to share some of your FAVORITES in the comment section below at the bottom. 🙂