Are the kids bored with pizza-parlor or back yard birthday parties? Then get wild this year. Throw a camping birthday party – and not in the back yard. Take the fun to a campground or park. Cut loose, party hearty and put on a birthday event everyone remembers.
Six Keys to Great Camping Birthday Parties
- Get the kids involved in every aspect. Make the birthday last for months, not just a few days. Let them pick the campground/park, make invitations, hand-out checklists and plan activities.
- Pick a campground close to home. Don’t spend the big day riding in a car. And, just in case really bad weather rolls in or someone isn’t feeling well, make sure getting home quickly isn’t a problem. The kids’ parents who aren’t overnighting will also be close by, if needed.
- Invite friends far enough in advance. Give everyone time to prepare. Guests might need to buy or borrow gear.
- Make an impression with invitations. A camping birthday is something different. The invitations should be different too. Enjoy helping the kids make their own. Be creative. Decorate invitations with natural tidbits – leaves, sticks, acorns, feathers – whatever the kids find outdoors.
- Provide checklists so everyone is happy. Checklists help everyone remember what to bring to camp and ensure the comfort and safety of the campers. Provide detailed lists.
- Plan plenty of fun activities. Camping isn’t about sitting out in the woods and being bored. It’s about fun, fun, fun. So plan lots of activities to keep the kids busy and excited – and give the adults some downtime too.
Birthday Camp Activities
Runnin’, laughin’, hootin’, hollerin’ and gettin’ dirty are all allowed at camp. So use nature, the land and the campsite to plan fun from dawn to dusk. Be creative when planning, too. Here are a couple of activity suggestions to get the party-planner juices flowing.
Pancake Art – Crazy Camp Cooking
Who can make the coolest pancake? Find out.
Give everyone a list of categories like flora and fauna (plants and animals), outdoor gear and famous people. Each person’s pancake design must fit into one of the categories. So, a fish, tent or Abe Lincoln’s head all would work.
Adults, make the first pancake to show everyone how it’s done. Also assist each camper to keep everyone safe around the camp stove.
Here’s what to do:
- Heat up the griddle or frying pan
- Pour some pancake mix and water into a small plastic bag. Seal the bag. Mix the batter by gently squeezing the bag
- Cut the corner of the bag off (just a little snip) so the batter can squeeze out through the hole
- Let the artist draw a pancake design by carefully squeezing the batter onto the grill
- Let the batter cook, flip side and cook again
- Take the cooked pancake to the decoration station
- Decorate using syrup, icing, sprinkles, trail mix and other decorative items
- Have the kids vote for the winner in each category
Wilderness Scavenger Hunt
Make up lists of items that are found in the woods. Divide the campers into two-person teams. Give each team a list. Holler go, and kick back and observe the mayhem. The first team to return to the starting line with all the items on its list wins.
If hosting kids of different ages, give harder or longer lists to the older kids. Give easier or shorter lists to the younger kids. This makes the game fair and fun for everyone. A difficult list might include specific items, like: Oak leaf (fallen), dogwood leaf (fallen), 5 acorns, dried pine cone, wildflower, dead pine branch. An easier list might be more generic: leaf, acorn, stick, pine needle, rock.
Pay attention to the rules of the campground, park and or state. In some areas, simple acts like picking wildflowers or leaves off live trees are prohibited.
Hit-the-Target Casting Contest
There’s no water needed for this fun, fishing-related contest. It’s all about casting.
- In an open area, outline (with leaves or string or stones) a three-circle target on the ground. Assign each circle with a point value. The center is worth the most points.
- Tie lures, without hooks, onto a couple of fishing rods. Give each camper five casts at the target. The person who gets the highest score wins. If you’re hosting kids who don’t know how to fish, use simple-to-use equipment.
- Let younger kids stand closer to the target to give them a fair chance.
After the casting is done, use the fishing gear for the real thing, if there’s a lake or stream nearby.
Pine Cone Birthday Party Favors
Allow youngsters to make their own party favors. Pine cones can morph into amazing creations when given to an imaginative child. Using a few art supplies or ingredients, cones can become holiday ornaments, turkeys, colorful hangings or even bird feeders.
Here’s how to make pine-cone bird feeders. It’s messy and lots of fun – perfect kid stuff.
- Plastic baggies and/or containers (one to hold for each finished cone feeder)
- Dried (opened) pine cones (one per child)
- String or yarn (to make hangars for each cone)
- Peanut butter (1/2 cup per child)
- Bird seed (one child-sized handful per child)
- Soap and warm water (to clean us sticky, gooey, kid and adult hands)
- Grab a pine cone
- Tie the string/yarn around the large end (top) of the cone to make a string hangar that can be tied to a tree limb or even plant hook on a porch
- By hand, mix ½ cup (or big fistful) of peanut butter with a little handful of bird seed
- With hands, press the peanut butter/seed mix into the spaces between the cone fronds
- Put feeder in plastic bag or container to store for the trip home
- Store feeders in a cooler or cool location, until heading home
Campfire Games & Fun
- ABC Game – Armadillo, bald eagle, caterpillar, deer… Each camper comes up with an outdoor word for the next letter in the alphabet.
- Cake for Campers – Forget regular birthday cake. Have S’moors by the campfire. They’re ooey, gooey, sweet camping treats. Put a roasted marshmallow and piece of milk chocolate between two graham crackers. So good!
- Scary Stories – Let the adults at the party finish up the day with some great scary stories. It’s a camping tradition.
Forego the mundane. Have a wild camping birthday party. It’s fun for everyone.