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Having a Camping Olympics is a fun way to spend time together and have some laughs. Depending on the ages and number of campers, you can have a team competition or individual games. If you have 6 or 8 kids, you can pair off into 3 or 4 teams. If you have more than 8 kids, you may want to divide into 2 or 3 larger sized teams.
The next consideration for your Camping Olympics is to come up with a scoring system and prizes. Given the competitive nature of our family, I try to choose prizes for all and a mix of games that involve skill and chance…this keeps everyone’s interest so as to not demoralize anyone.
The scoring should allow the teams to not stay in contention through the various events. For example, if one of your camping Olympic games is the bean bag toss, the winning team might get 100 points, runner-up 90 points, and third place gets 80 points. The scoring system and event selection is key to keeping peace in the camp…although there’s always some that go to tears no matter what you try ;-).
OK…now that you have an idea for your team sizes and scoring system, take a look at some of the Camping Olympics games below and see which are a good fit…
- The Bean Bag Toss: With a bucket and some bean bags (or pine cones if you need to improvise), draw or scrape a line on the ground 10-20 feet away from a small bucket. Give each member 3 tosses and tally the team’s score. If you want to make it more interesting throw out some small buckets and coffee cans and make them worth double points! This is a good neutral game that most teams should be able to do.
- Relay Race: All Olympics involve running...your Camping Olympics should be no different ;-). If you can find a looping trail with minimal rocks and roots, a relay race is always a fun team event. Using a stick for a baton, have each member pass it to the next runner. If your group has 2-person teams, try an out & back relay across a field so that the first person runs from one end to the other and the second person runs back to the start/finish line.
- Jumping Rope: Another athletic event is a jumping rope competition. Give each camper a piece of rope and one minute to see how many times they can skip rope without stopping in one minute. This one needs some parental refereeing and you might want to do it one camper at a time. The good news is that it’s simple and can be improvised as rope is easy to come by at a campsite!
- The Water Balloon Toss: Like the egg toss with less goo! Have the teams line up in pairs facing each other. Have them toss the balloon to their partner, then they each take a step back and toss the balloon again. The parents will need to keep the lines even. The last pair to stay ‘alive’ (i.e. balloon doesn’t break) wins the game!
- The Potato Sack Race: You’ll need an open field and some burlap sacks for this one. You can usually find burlap sacks at a hardware or home improvement store. Each camper will need to hop from the starting line to the finish line. For even more laughs, you can make this a relay race.
- The Dizzy Izzy: You’ll need an open field, a baseball bat or stick, and a video camera for this one! Run as a relay, you run across the field to the stick or bat (where a parent is) and you put your forehead on the end of the bat and and run 10 circles in place around the bat. If you don’t have a bat, you can use parents to spin the camper 10-15 times in place. Next the highly-dizzy camper has to run back and tag their next team mate (this is where the video comes in handy ;-). The teams have to sit in a circle at the end. Last team with all of their members sitting down wins!
- Stream Boat Races: A good game with a mix of luck and skill is the paper boat race. Check out the paper boat page for easy folding instructions. Have each camper fold a boat and write their team name or color on it. Choose a starting point and finish line on the stream…places where the bank is easy to reach – not too steep or muddy. Next hold a stick across the stream so that it will block any boats and have them put their boats in the water on the upstream side of the stick. Lift the stick and the race is off!
- Tug of War: No Camping Olympics would be complete without a tug-of-war match. This is also a game that can be fraught with injuries if you don’t think it out ahead of time. Pick an area with no rocks or other hazards and don’t allow a team to wrap the rope around their hands or their anchor. Put a hula hoop or circle on the ground in the middle and tie a streamer on the rope in the middle. The team that pulls the streamer out of the circle first wins. A pit or ravine in the middle can be disastrous….stick to the circle.
These team camping games can be loads of fun. Putting them into an organized Camping Olympics can be a blast! Just make sure that you have a good set of rules and keep an eye on safety to maximize your enjoyment. Let the games begin.
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