Fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. There are exciting things that are associated with the night. From the amazingly beautiful night sky to troops of fireflies dancing through the trees. The sky and nature come alive and it’s purely magical. This means, there are plenty of fun things to do while camping at night to keep everyone entertained while creating lasting memories. But, you don’t always have to sit around a campfire, tell scary stories/perform skits and call it a night. Switch things a little bit.
That’s why I’ve taken the time to put together this list of out-of-the-box nighttime camping activities. So it’s up to you to decide what to do.
Nighttime Nature Walk
A nature walk at night is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see some animals that only come out at night such as moths, bats, owls, foxes and hedgehogs. This, of course, depends on your location and the time of year. Hedgehogs, for example, are easily spotted on summer nights while owls are much easier to see and hear during winter.
While at it, you can make it fun for the kids. Play the listening game and scavenger hunt. The listening game is pretty simple. Ask the kids to close their eyes and listen for about 20 seconds without talking. When time is up, ask them what they heard. Then you switch places and share the answers with each other.
A scavenger hunt is making a list of things you see or hear. Kids love to explore, and this game will pump them up.
Nature walks at night are exciting experiences but remember safety comes first. Always; go in a group, dress appropriately for the local weather, bring plenty of light sources and extra batteries. Binoculars can also come in handy.
If meeting the creatures of darkness isn’t really your thing, you can take a quick walk to explore the campground. Experience the beauty and wonder of nature at night. On a clear night, there is so much to see in the night sky, and not just the stars.
Most national and state parks offer eye-catching night sky views. Take advantage of that and discover the magic of the dark skies with an unforgettable stargazing experience.
You can as well opt to take a breezy, moonlit walk along the beach/shore. It’s not only a great way for couples to reconnect with each other, but also a chance to remember those you loved and have lost while taking in the spectacular views.
Looking to take it up a notch? How about a moonlit swim in open water? Swimming at night is probably the most thrilling outdoor excursions you’ll ever experience in your life. The fact that it feels daring and sneaky makes it even more rewarding. And the beauty of it? Exploring it with your family and friends.
But remember to be careful and not get caught up in the moment. For your safety;
- Know the water. Check the local weather forecast. Pay close attention to the tide charts. Also, find out if there are any warning signs posted at the campground, beach or park about dangerous swimming conditions or jellyfish.
- Don’t go alone. No matter how well you swim, swimming alone in open body water at night can be dangerous. Worst case scenario –have a cramp or get tangled in weeds. Play it safe. Always swim in a group of two or more. Remember to keep your eyes on each other especially if you have kids around.
- Know your limits. Swimming in a lake or ocean is a bit harder than in a pool. From rough waters to conditions always changing. So don’t go too far. Keep the shoreline in sight. If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t go in the water you can’t touch the bottom. And if you don’t know how to swim, don’t get in the water. Instead, monitor your friends and alert anyone drifting too far from the shore.
- If the current is strong, swim parallel to the shore until you are free. Then slowly make your way back to land.
- If you encounter a large wave, dive under just like how surfers do.
- Wear reflective tape or something that reflects light on your arm to help others see you.
- Use a flashlight or small lantern to mark your entry point to find your way out of water.
- Don’t dive into the ocean or swim while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you’re looking for fun, mind-blowing summer camp nighttime activities, you just got one!
Play Camping Games
How about some fun, unique camping games that everyone can enjoy? If you’re tired of same old night games, you can add more diverse games to your collection with these options:
- Flashlight freeze – Get your groove on and dance to the music (it’s pure fun to see kids wiggle), but, when the flashlight beam points at you or your group, you freeze immediately. If you move, you’re out of the game. Everyone else should hold their position until the music plays again.
- I spy – Another great campfire game for the kids. The ‘spy’ chooses an object they can see around the area, and others try to guess what it is. The ‘spy’ goes like, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with (insert letter).” The one who guesses correctly takes up the mantle and becomes the ‘spy’.
- Wink murder –This game goes by many names and has different versions. You may know it by Killer Wink, Murder in the Dark, Murder Killer or Killer Killer. All versions are pretty simple and vary just a little. It can be lots of fun for youth groups and adults.
With everyone’s eyes closed, the moderator (who doesn’t play that round) selects the killer by tapping their shoulder/head. After that, everyone opens their eyes. The murderer kills other players by winking at them.
If the murderer winks at you, count to five silently and lie on the ground or leave the circle. The rest are left to guess who the killer is. If a player thinks they know the identity of the killer, they say, “I accuse” without revealing the suspect.
The game pauses, and if there is a second accuser, they say the same thing and then both accusers point to the suspect at the same time. If they are correct, the game ends. If they point at different players or the wrong person, they both die. Remember, you can’t communicate with the one another.
- Sardines – A fun camping game to play with your youth group. It’s kind of the opposite of hide-and-seek as one person hides while the rest look for him/her. One person hides anywhere within the allocated area.
He or she is given a few minutes to hide, and then, the group disperses to look for the person. If you find the hidden person, you quietly hide with them. The last person to find the hidden group loses while the first person gets to hide in the next round.
- Statues –it should be played with at least four people. But the larger the group, the more fun it will be. Two individuals play the ‘tourist’ and the ‘tour guide’ while the rest are ‘statues’. The ‘tourist’ and the ‘tour guide’ leave the area and turn off the lights. The ‘statues’ get into positions while the ‘tour guide’ counts to thirty.
After this time elapses, the two return with flashlights to make the statues laugh, move or make noise. The two are allowed to say anything to make the ‘statues’ tick. Touching, however, is not permitted. The last ‘statue’ to be unmoved wins.
I absolutely love this game; it can be sneaky and hilarious at the same time. Besides, darkness provides the perfect cover to change your position without the two noticing.
- Thief in the dark – easy but fun game for the whole family. Look for twenty or more items and place them on your picnic or folding camp table. Give the participants enough time to inspect the items. Do not give them too much time though.
Once the lights are turned off (players can opt to turn their backs or leave the area instead), the ‘thief’ removes one item. The players try to figure out which piece was removed. The player that identifies the most ‘stolen’ item wins.
- Flashlight tag –an oldie that never gets boring! It’s basically hide-and-seek played at night. One person is selected as ‘it’ and heads into the dark with a flashlight to find his or her friends. If you’re ‘tagged’ by the light, you become ‘it’ and start looking for others. Alternatively, your game is over and have to wait until everyone is found.
Other classic and fun night camping games that are still worth playing include; mafia, two truths and a lie, shadow &puppets, telephone, capture the flag, truth or dare, 20 questions, charades, never have l ever, board and card games.
Swing in a Hammock
Ever tried sleeping or just lying down in a hammock under the star-spangled night sky? It’s one of the most breathtaking experiences one can have.
Not only that but hammocks take relaxation to a whole new level. There’s nothing quite like swaying gently in a hammock after a long day of hiking. It’s also a great place to curl up with your kids and tell them spooky stories while enjoying fresh air and night views.
Besides, a hammock is the ultimate spot to read a book, listen to music and enjoy some quality ‘me’ time.
Capture the Moments
You don’t have to put your camera or phone away when night falls. There are beautiful moments and spectacular images just waiting to be captured. From photographing your kids sleeping to activities around the campfire to the magnificent night skies – you name it.
I know it’s difficult to get some nice shots in low light and dark areas, but not entirely impossible. Adjust your camera settings to a high ISO, wide aperture, high shutter speed and use flashlights and lanterns to light up the place. And don’t afraid to use the flash –it comes in handy in these conditions.
While it’s great to capture memorable moments, don’t get too immersed in photography and forget to have fun!
Meet Your Fellow Campers
Nighttime is also an excellent opportunity to talk and socialize with other campers. Strike up conversations with anyone you meet, especially if you are camping alone—at least you know you share one interest with them, after all.
You can meet like-minded, interesting people which is always a good foundation for friendships. Don’t shy away from new people. Grab that drink and head over to another camp with a smile on your face. Everything else will fall into place.
Decorate Your Campsite
Make your campsite feel like home with colorful decorations and string lights. It’s a fun way to enhance your camping experience, especially for the kids. You can choose to go the string lights way, the LED rope lights way or the flameless LED candles way. Or, the chic accent solar-powered lanterns. Whichever lighting option you choose will add ambiance to your camp and make it feel cozy.
Glow sticks aren’t just for games; you can use them to create awesome decorations and crafts. Pennant banners are also cute, cheery and will add a touch of whimsical fun to your campsite.
Try Out of the Ordinary Camping Meals
Everybody loves burgers and hotdogs and what’s not to love? But sometimes it’s fun to mix things up and cook something a little unexpected. You can try pasta, beef, chicken or vegetarian dishes accompanied by mashed/roasted potatoes, garlic bread, soup or something green.
S’more are awesome – a classic campfire treat and we all know that. But there are other delicious camping desserts too. Get a little unconventional and try grilled shortcake skewers, oreo skillet cookie or some peanut butter truffles.
To make it even more fun, cook together as a family. Make new memories and traditions. But to pull this off, plan ahead of time.
Read a Book
If you just want to sit back and relax, bring a book. Nothing beats curling up in your cozy sleeping bag with a good read under the stars. Reading around the campfire light is fascinating as well.
Reading books with your kids around the campfire or in the tent is also fun and will get them more excited.
As you can see there are plenty of awesome camping activities to do at night. You just have to be creative and think outside the box. How about you start with these activities and see where the night takes you?