Summer Family Games
School’s out for the summer — or make that, home schooling is out for the summer (for many) — and kids, as well as parents, are itching to get out of the house. With our lives recently being turned upside down, now’s a great time to head out in our RVs for some rest and recreation, whether that means taking short-spurt trips or fleeing our home states for extended getaways.
For parents, the trip starts before you leave home. Chances are, your kids will love to help plan the vacation. Creating their own wish lists for things to do and places to see will spark enthusiasm. You can help them create a scrapbook or memory album of sights and activities that will be cherished long after you return home. They can write about their adventures, draw pictures of what they see and press a flower they pick between the pages. Creating digital memory books is another fun option, with an assortment of scrapbook-making tools available online.
One of our favorite “while underway” games that’s sure to entertain everyone is Mad Libs, which simultaneously teaches children about nouns, verbs, adjectives and descriptions. First published more than 60 years ago and still sold at various retailers, these fill-in-the-blank books are now available as an app, too. We prefer the book versions because kids write down the words. Players, which can number from two to as many as you want, add words to an interactive story, and the end result always has us laughing. It’s also a great game for when you’re settled inside your RV or at your campsite’s picnic table.
Kids are easy to please and will always find something to do. It might not necessarily be what you think they should be doing, so with a little planning, everyone can enjoy the outing while maintaining social distance from other folks who are sharing the enjoyment of RVing. Family fun and bonding are at the top of the list for RVers, so we’ve come up with some great indoor and outdoor games and activities to keep the good times rolling at the campground.
Take It Inside
At this writing, a limited number of national parks were reopening to the public, but even if you can’t get to one, a couple of games will get you into the spirit: National Parks Monopoly and National Parks Jenga.
The custom-themed National Parks Monopoly board (two to four players, ages eight years and older) highlights more than 60 of America’s most beautiful sites, and you move around buying land from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone. Along the way you’ll meet animals found in the destinations, and the game-specific tokens include a ranger hat, hiking boot, tent, canoe, camera and bison.
The block-stacking Jenga game (last person to remove a block without toppling the whole shebang wins) features more than 100 fun facts about our national parks, and a portion of the purchase price is donated to the National Park Foundation.
If you can’t be outside with your fishing pole casting a line, try the classic card game Go Fish!. Players request cards from other players (two to four, ages four and up) and the object is to collect matching sets of cards with funny fish. Children learn picture-matching and how to take turns.
Another classic card game emphasizing the same skills, Old Maid includes 37 colorful 4.5-by-3.25-inch cards that are easy for little hands to hold. Just don’t find yourself holding the Old Maid card at the end!
Asmodee’s Spot It! Camping, where up to eight players can play, is a fast-paced card-matching game with symbols of campfires, critters and binoculars. Fifty-five cards are in the deck, each with eight symbols, and there is one — and only one — matching symbol between any two cards. The goal is to be the quickest to find the two cards that match.
Here’s a fun fact about one of the most enjoyed and addictive dice games: More than 50 million copies are sold each year. Yes, we’re talking about Yahtzee, “The Shake, Score, and Shout Game” available at various retailers that’s all about luck and probability.
The fast-paced family guessing game Hedbanz keeps players on their toes figuring out what they are, based upon a series of questions.
And who doesn’t like Charades? Board games are available, including a Charades for Kids where each card has a picture clue. But there’s also the classic version of acting out or miming a word or phrase you come up with, without saying a word. All you need are fun-loving adults and kids who want to have a good time!
One of the reasons we love RVing is because we appreciate the outdoors where the possibilities of enjoyment are endless. From relaxing under the awning and taking in the view of other folks delighting in the RV lifestyle or watching a peaceful stream, to fishing, hiking, bicycling, geocaching and walking our dogs, we can “have it all” while still practicing safe social distance.
Adding a soundtrack to your adventures definitely amps up the fun. Furrion’s LIT Portable Bluetooth Speaker resists water and sand, and offers up to 15 hours of playtime per charge. Turn on some tunes, move the speaker outside to the picnic table for a family dance party, or take it along with the included rail/bike mount and hand strap. The LIT is 2.9-by-7.6-by-2.1 inches, weighs 1.4 pounds and has a built-in flashlight and emergency SOS light and siren.
Why not pack up a picnic for your hike? Kids can help plan snacks and lunches, which, of course, you will need to carry! A simple backpack works, but if you’re serious about keeping food and drinks cold, an insulated one will do nicely. There are a variety that claim to be leak-resistant, including the under-2-pound Igloo Marine Ultra 32 Can Cooler Backpack with MaxCold insulation and adjustable, padded air-mesh comfort straps.
Or for a pack that includes picnic amenities for two, check out the PT-Colorado Insulated Picnic Backpack . The gray 4-pound pack unzips at the front where place settings for two are stowed; add more if needed.
One of our favorite food gadgets is the Banana Guard that — you guessed it — keeps bananas bruise- and smoosh-free for transport and is great for tossing into a backpack.
While out on your walkabout, it’s a great time to watch wildlife and birds. Serious birders will already have binoculars that work for them, but for lightweight (under a pound) and basic, the Barska 10×25 Waterproof Colorado Binoculars offer a 303-foot field of view at 1,000 yards and are collapsible, waterproof and fog-proof.
If space constraints prevent you from bringing along a standard kayak or canoe, and boat rentals are not available, an alternative is an inflatable one. Sea Eagle, for one, has inflatable kayaks, canoes, boards and fishing boats. The company’s entry-level two-person 330 kayak weighs 26 pounds and packs down to 24-by-16-by-7 inches.
The Rave Molokai Two-Person Inflatable Kayak weighs 31 pounds and also folds down to a compact size (22.75-by-14.25-by-15.25 inches). The eye-catching blue kayak with Hawaiian graphics is constructed of heavy-duty 24-gauge PVC bladder and has a durable 420-denier nylon top cover. It can carry up to 400 pounds, and the durable bottom has fins that allow for easy gliding. Included are a carry bag, hand pump and two paddles.
Back at Camp
To burn off a few more calories, and some of your kids’ energy as well, badminton is a wonderful game to play in camp. If you want a simple set that includes two racquets and two shuttlecocks (no net), the Franklin Sports 2-Player Steel Badminton Racquet Set will do the trick. If you’d prefer a full set with four graphite racquets with padded grips, three pro-style shuttlecocks, a 20-foot-by-2-foot-by-1.5-inch all-weather net with poles and a storage bag, the same company offers the Classic Badminton Set.
The fun continues at the campsite with Classic Lawn Darts with four “darts” that have a safe tip design and two target rings.
The 90mm Bocce Ball Set includes one white scoring jack and eight all-weather Bocce balls, making it a game to bring along that won’t take up much space. Fun fact: Bocce ball is one of the oldest yard games in the world, and can be played on grass, dirt and sand.
If your RV has storage that is 2-by-3-feet or larger, it can accommodate the festive 10-piece red, white and blue Franklin Sports American Flag Cornhole Board. The two target boards that come with the set have a PVC frame and fabric top for quick no-tools-required assembly. Weighing just over 13 pounds, the lightweight board game is easy to transport and will provide hours of fun. Included are four red and four blue regulation-size and -weight beanbags.
Twister is another family favorite, setting in motion all kinds of precarious positions and “tying you up in knots” as each player tries to place hands and feet on various colored circles. There’s even a blindfolded version, and the simple mat and spinner can be purchased at various retailers.
Or add some extra fun and create your own glow-in-the-dark Twister game. Basically, you’ll need four different colored glow-in-the-dark paints, white fabric or sheet, and poster board, a brad fastener and paper clip for the spinner. A paper plate works well as a stencil to make the circles on the sheet. You can do an online search to get details on how others have made them.
Speaking of glow-in-the-dark activities, adding lights to bicycle spokes and wheels is not only fun and festive but adds a measure of safety. You can make bicycle wheels glow with Wheel Brightz Rainbow Bicycle Lights , 20 micro red, orange, gold, green, blue and purple LEDs, and Spin Brightz Bicycle Spoke Lights, three battery-powered illuminated tubes that clip to the spokes.
Some RV park pools may be closed during the coronavirus outbreak, but there are ways for the kiddos — and adults — to cool off in the summer heat. Inflatable kiddie pools abound (search the internet), from ones designed for little bitty ones to others that Mom and Dad can chill out in.
Simple pleasures include collecting rocks or seashells from around the campsite, river or ocean, and painting or writing messages on them using earth-friendly paint. When the sun goes down, it’s time for stargazing, and singing and storytelling around the campfire. And s’mores, of course!