As camp professionals, we can never have enough summer camp games in our "bag of tricks." Here's a few more to add to your summer camp activities list. Feel free to add your favorite camp games in the comments below to keep this free resource growing!
Be sure to check out my Top Ten List of Summer Camp Activities for more fun camp games.
If you are looking for nighttime inspiration, here's a great list of evening program ideas as well.
I love kick the can. This is a timeless classic in the world of summer camp games. It's also simple to set up. Simply place a large can in the center of your playing area. Designate one participant to be "It." One of the players gives the can a big kick and while "It" runs to retrieve the can and put it back into the center, all of the players run to hide. "It" then goes out in search of the other players. Once someone is caught they must return go to the can. If a player is able to sneak up and kick the can without being caught, all players are free and the game begins again.
All that you need for this classic summer camp game are two “flags” - brightly colored handkerchiefs tied to a sticks work well. Choose a large playing field that has some trees and rocks and other features that participants can hide behind and run around. Divide your group into two teams - and be sure there is a way to designate who is on which team - bandanas on their foreheads work well. Each team hides their flag and designates a “jail” on their side of the playing field. The goal of the game is to “capture” the other teams’ flag. If a player ventures onto the other team’s side of the field they may be tagged and sent to jail. They may only be freed if they are tagged back by a member of their own team. This is a great game of tag for a large group of campers!
Split the group into two teams. Have the team line up in two rows. After a whistle is blown the first person in line passes a ball over their head to the next person who passes it under their legs to the next person - who then passes it over their head to the next, and under, and over and under all the way to the last person. The last person runs the ball to the front of the line and starts the process again. The game is over when the first team cycles thru all of the players and the person who was in front of the line to begin the game returns to the front of the line.
All that’s needed for this summer camp activity is one frisbee per participant. The “holes” are picked on the fly and can be a certain tree or object around camp or on the trail. Players all begin from the same starting point and toss their frisbees in the direction of the “hole” or target object. Each player counts how many tosses it takes to hit the target. Then a new “hole” is chosen and the group move on. It follows the pattern and rules of a traditional game of golf, but with the fun spin of using frisbees. And the bonus is that it can be done almost anywhere around your camp property. Each round of frisbee golf will end up being different from the last!
One of my favorite summer camp games, this is a great icebreaker activity for a large group of campers and requires no materials or set up. Have everyone in the group grab a partner and stand together in a large circle. The leader will start out in the center of the circle and will call out commands to the participants who must follow the directions. Examples include: “knee to knee” (participants must touch knees), “elbow to forehead” (participants now touch elbows to foreheads while remaining knee to knee), “jump up and down” (now they add jumping to the mix), etc. Continue the commands until they are all tied up and then call out “People to People. Go. Go. Go!” At this point everyone must grab a new partner. The leader will now grab a partner as well which will leave one of the campers as the new leader in the middle to call out commands - the one who was unable to grab a partner fast enough. The game then continues in this fashion with new leaders calling out new and interesting commands for each round.
This is a great “get to know you” name game to add to your summer camp games list. The group stands in a circle with once person in the middle holding the “zapper” - typically a pool noodle, though you can be creative with what’s on hand. (I once used a tube of wrapping paper!) The player should make certain they always know then names of the people to their left and to their right. The caller takes the zapper and points it at a player calling out “Zip”, “Zap” , or “Zoop” - and then immediately commences counting to five. The player that has been zapped has five seconds to call out the correct name in response. “Zip” is the name of the person to the left. “Zap” is the name of the person to the right. “Zoop” is the player’s own name. If they successfully answer within the five second countdown, the central player zaps someone else. If they answer incorrectly or do not answer in time, they head to the center and become the Zapper.
Sardines is a great game to be played indoors or out - a large building works great! Basically one person is chosen to hide. The rest of the group counts to 100 - or gives them 5-10 minutes to come up with a good hiding spot - depending on the size of the playing area. The rest of the group then heads out to find the hider. Once found, they join the hider in the hiding spot until everyone has disappeared into hiding with the original “hider.” The last person to find the group is the next one to hide for round two.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out this summer camp activity list for more fun summer camp ideas.
Please add your favorites summer camp games in the comments below to keep this list growing!