We’ve all been on a camping trip where much of our time was spent hiking, eating, swimming and spending quality time with friends/family. Here are some activities to compliment the basics of camping. These are some of my favorite activities to partake in while camping.

Probably the most popular, relatively light and adventurous activity is bike-riding. It’s especially good for getting out of the campsite and exploring a city you’ve never been to before. Ride around city streets, trails, regional monuments and even your own campground if it’s monstrous.

Sports-related fitness activities include anything that involves tossing a ball, like catch or simply throwing a ball off a dock to friends that jump off and try to catch it in the air. Whack a volleyball at your friend’s head, or a beach ball if your friend is a softy. If you’ve just gotten hit in the head with a volleyball and are fed up with the game, swim a few laps in the water to cool yourself down. Be happy that you didn’t get in the head with a frisbee which could potentially cause more damage, especially ultimate frisbee. Bring some badminton rackets and a shuttlecock to smack around on the sand. Kick a soccer ball back and forth. Don’t worry, those float too. Take a stretch before or after your shenanigans and get serious with yoga.

For the intellectuals, get crackin’ on Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For the light-hearted beach readers, pick up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions or Three Junes. For everyone else in between, just pick up any book and sprawl out on that beach blanket and starting reading. Writers, this is your time to soak up the sun and exercise your penmanship.

All of the aforementioned activities are quite common while out on a camping venture so why not try something a little atypical? Do some artsy projects. Bring a canvas and paints out into the woods or field and just draw what you see. Or just use that spot to stimulate an original painting that you imagined in your head. More lightweight creativity can be a simple drawing pad and piece of charcoal or a pencil. Water-colors depict landscapes ideally and can get a little messy so the outdoors is a perfect place to experiment. In nature, you’re surrounded by textures; leaves, tree bark, plants, stones and twigs that you can use to imprint as long as you have a piece of paper and an exposed long piece of lead from a pencil, charcoal, oil crayons, regular crayons, etc. An imprint is a mark made by pressure. To make one, lay the paper over the object you wish to imprint. Hold it in place while you sketch with a crayon sideways over the object and paper and you will be left with the design of the object on the paper.

Along the lines of art, bring an instrument to the campsite. Nothing compliments hot dogs and beers by the campfire better than a lonely man singing his heart out with a guitar. Don’t be afraid to accompany him on the bongos attached to your body, bass guitar, harmonica, clarinet, vocal chords or another instrument of your ability. Just be mindful of noise ordinances. Some campgrounds require “quiet-time,” usually between 10 pm and 7 am.

Go on a scavenger hunt. It’s a great way to get covered in cobwebs, dirt and have a run in with potentially poisonous insects. Exciting, right? Do this activity with the kids or your 20-something-year-old friends that act like kids. Look for the usual objects like leaves from specific trees from the region you’re in and for something more quirky like a lost pair of shoes in the sand/campground. Get to know other campers and make a list of things you have to gather from neighbors like plastic cutlery, a pair of socks, bottle caps from last night, etc.

Pack binoculars or a portable telescope for star gazing at night. Binoculars are better for observing constellations and the moon while telescopes tend to be necessary if you want to see other planets that are passing earth’s orbit and more complex structures like star-clusters and details of the milky way galaxy.

The following day, observe natural phenomena closer to earth. Buy a disposable camera and photograph your favorite trails, any bugs or animals you encounter, spectacular views of nature as well if you’re in an area with mountains, waterfalls, forests, etc. Or take a digital camera and try to photograph a theme, like all the red things you see, beards, or make an alphabet out of photographs.

If you just want to chill out, sit around the table with your friends and a deck of cards. Or, if you’re by yourself, play solitaire or bring a 500-piece puzzle from home. Puzzles are a great mildly stimulating activity that you can enjoy outside or inside, and they’re a nice way to spend time with your fellow campers. Puzzles can really save the day if it’s raining too hard for hiking.

If you want to stay close to the outdoors and close to the water without being in it, rent a kayak or find a quiet spot by the shore to throw in a fishing line. Fishing could turn into a much longer and rewarding activity if you catch a fish big enough for dinner. Be aware of the regulations of the area you’re in. Some places require that you have a license to fish and keep game. Check regulations with maps of every U.S. state here.

Beginning one of these activities may lead to inspiration for another one. For more pizazz, combine two or more of the aforementioned activities. Underwater cameras are available for purchase usually at the same place as disposables. Take one with you next time you go swimming to photograph your friends and make a scavenger hunt out of the underwater life. Send us a comment with your favorite camping activities!

Photo: (telescope) Brian, (bike-rider) The Victorian Greens, (waterfall) Dave Bezaire and Susi Havens-Bezaire via Creative Commons