10 Ideas for Fun While Camping with the Kids

Camp Cardinal isn’t just a relaxing place for adults. With so much to do, your kids will love spending time at this scenic, rustic campground in Hayes, Virginia. Bonus: they’ll be super tired at night!

Camp Cardinal offers free planned activities most days during the summer and on weekends during the other months plus check out the playground, basketball and volleyball courts, pool and splash park.

We’ve also got 10 unique ideas to making camping with your children a blast.


Plan a scavenger hunt. Compile a list that would accompany a nature/beach scavenger hunt and let the kids tackle it as a group or by competing against each other. If they’re older and have cell phones, have them snap photos for the hunt. Stock up ahead of time on prizes or special treats. Stuck for ideas? Set a time period and see how many things they can find to represent the different letters of the alphabet. Or you plan in advance, have a scavenger bingo card to hand out as a surprise.


If the kids have never fished before, you’re in luck. Saltwater fishing is great along the Severn River and there is even a fish cleaning station so you can prepare your catch for grilling later.


Take a nature walk. The wooded paths at Camp Cardinal are perfect for immersing the family in the smells, sights and sounds of all there is to love about being outdoors in coastal Virginia.


Tote along paper and crayons and teach the kids to make tree rubbings by putting the paper against different types of bark to create rubbings that show the various tree bark textures. Leaf and flower pressing is a similar idea.


Pack the binoculars for bird hunting. If you’re lucky, you might even see a bald eagle or two! Download the Audubon Society’s birding app to help with identification (or not if you choose to spend time electronics-free). Use the binoculars again when it’s dark for a night of stargazing.


Almost anything is fun around a campfire at night. Tell stories (you decide how scary) and make s’mores (if you forget supplies for that, we’ve got them in the General Store).


Bring your cornhole set. And your favorite board games and definitely a pack of cards. If you’ve got a few rings, you could even set up a homemade ring toss with sticks. Bingo is also a good time or play blackjack using chips or pennies.


Remember the games you used to enjoy as a kid, including Red Light, Green Light, Simon Says and flashlight tag. Bring enough flashlights for all of the kids and have extra batteries handy. The “it” person gets a flashlight, counts to 50 or 100 and tags the other players by shining a flashlight on them. 


Let the kids get dirty without worrying about adding to your housecleaning chores. Bring along some inexpensive paints for rock painting or for a twist, have them use evergreen branches as brushes. See who can be the most creative. Get creative with finger paints or have them paint what they see. Painting pine combs they collect can also be cool.


Don’t over plan. Enjoy being together. It takes nothing extra to play charades, sing campfire songs, sit in a circle for a game of “telephone” or set up a makeshift obstacle course. The joy of camping is combining the outdoors and all its simplicity with the togetherness that’s often so hard to come by day to day.