Sitting around the fire is one of the most magical things to do when camping. Add in some cracking campfire games and it’s also an opportunity for endless silliness, fun and laughter. The place to create lasting memories. But if you’re not prepared with a list of campfire games that are suitable for the group then things can easily fizzle out before they’ve even gotten started.
Campfire games are different to camping games which often require space, activity and equipment. Campfire games, on the other hand, should ideally have very few props. They should be easily played without having to get out of your camp chair (too often, at least), and you should be able to play them in low light or by the glow of a camping lantern.
I LOVE playing games of all kinds, and have had many, many a good night sat around the fire trying out new campfire games. So I hope you enjoy my tried and tested faves.
- Campfire games for kids and families
- In the pond, out of the pond
- The Telephone Game / Chinese whispers
- Wink murder
- Name that song
- I went to market…
- Celebrities (hat game)
- Campfire games for adults
- Word association game
- Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
- The Rob Whitehouse alphabet game
Campfire games for kids and families
Time around the fire at the end of a busy day exploring or playing camping games(!) is yet another way for families to bond and enjoy each others’ company when camping. Having a set of campfire games for kids and families up your sleeves will help to keep the fun rolling. Kids’ campfire games need to be relatively simple to play with silliness and fun being top priority.
01In the pond, out of the pond
This was one of my favourite games as a Girl Guide, and is still one I love as an adult! It’s simple, requires no props and will get everyone in giggles instantly. It’s also an excellent game for large groups, regardless of their age.
How to play…
- You’ll need one caller and everyone else will need to sit in a circle around the campfire with their hands on the tops of their thighs.
- The caller will say one of three things, in no particular order:
- “In the pond” — everyone puts their hands forwards into the circle (the pond!)
- “Out of the pond” — everyone puts their hands in the air above their heads
- “On the bank” — everyone puts their hands on their thighs
- If anyone moves their hands to the wrong place or at the wrong time then they are out of the game and have to sit on their hands until there is only one person left in, who is the winner!
So simple, yet SO fun.
02The Telephone Game / Chinese whispers
Late-night campfire games don’t get any better than this classic. It’s one of the best kids’ campfire games to play if you need to keep the noise down. That said, it can also get pretty silly with a constant risk that eruptions of laughter will kill the tranquility!
How to play…
- One person thinks of phrase. They can make it as simple or complex as they like. But if it starts silly then it’s likely to only get sillier!
- The starting person whispers the phrase into the ear of the person sitting next to them. They are not allowed to repeat themselves.
- Whatever has been heard by the listener must then be whispered to the next person, and so-on.
- Once the phrase has been passed all round the circle the last person says it out loud to the whole group. The results can be rather interesting!
If you’ve got some drama kings and queens in your group then a game of wink murder will keep them happy for hours!
How to play…
- One person, the ‘detective’, leaves the campfire so that they are out of earshot.
- The rest of the group choose one person to be the ‘murderer’. Everyone should know who this person is.
- The detective is invited back to join the circle to observe as a dramatic crime scene unfolds around them.
- The murderer ‘kills’ other members of the group by winking at them. If the victim sees the murderer winking at them they must ‘die’. This can be done as dramatically as the victim pleases! Or they can just close their eyes and let their head droop to the side.
- The detective must get to work quickly to figure out who the murderer is before the whole group has been eradicated! If they do this, then they win the game and a new detective is chosen.
- If the murderer manages to wipe out the whole group without being found out then they win the game and become the next detective.
Charades is once of the best family campfire games out there. The general gist of the game is for one person to act out the title of a play, book, song, TV show or movie to the rest of the group. However, they are not allowed to speak or make any noises whatsoever! Everyone plays it in a different way with different rules. But once you’re all on the same page it is one of those campfire games that can go on forever. If you’re not sure of the rules then check them out here.
The first person to guess what is being acted out becomes the next ‘performer’. Some people keep score to determine who will be an Oscar nominee of the future! And it can also be played in teams or to a timer to up the competition. But most games are played for the fun and silliness of it!
If you’re playing with children then it’s a good idea to have a few ideas written down for them to pick out of a hat. Otherwise, thinking of things to act out can stop the game before it’s even got going. You can even add a theme to the game.
05Name that song
Name that song is one of the best campfire games if there’s a musician in the group — one of those types who can play any song on the guitar, on demand! They simply play a short riff, intro, or section of a song and the rest of the group has to guess what the song is as quickly as possible. It can be done in teams or you can score individually.
Alternatively, it can be played in a more inclusive (and potentially less tuneful) way. But there’s little doubt it will certainly be more entertaining! Write down a load of popular songs on scraps of paper and place them in a hat. On your turn you have to pull a song out of the hat and sing it to the rest of the group, regardless of how well you can (or can’t) sing.
Warning: This game is best played earlier in the evening or on a campground that has no-one else on it!
Numbers is one of the silliest and most simple campfire games out there…
How to play…
- The aim of the game is to count out loud, as a group, from 1 to as high as possible without any two people saying the same number at the same time… go!
- Anyone can speak at any time saying any number of numbers, so long as they are in order from 1 upwards. There can be no pointing or gesturing to indicate who will be the next person to speak.
- As soon as two people say a number at the same time you have to start again. Can you get to 100?!
It’s strangely addictive.
07I went to market…
This is an excellent campfire game for families to play. And a good one to test the old memory! I like to play it based around a camping theme.
How to play…
- Person one starts by saying “I went to market and bought….” (a camping item beginning with the letter ‘A’) eg: “an awning”.
- Person two says the same as person one (“I went to market and bought an awning”) but they also add a camping item beginning with the letter ‘B’.
- Person three says what person two said but adds a camping item beginning with the letter ‘C’. And so-on.
- When someone gets it wrong they are out of the game.
08Celebrities (hat game)
The hat game is one of the best campfire games for kids and families to play in teams, as kids will have different knowledge to the adults making them have to work together to win the game.
How to play…
- To set up the game, everyone must write down the names of 5 to 10 well-known celebrities on pieces of scrap paper. These are put in a hat and mixed up.
- One person from team one has a minute to describe as many of the celebrity names to their team as possible. BUT, they are only allowed to use 3 words for each celebrity they pick out of the hat. No gesticulations or noises can be made and they are allowed to pass only once during their turn.
- All the correctly guessed names are counted and recorded. None of the names are put back in the hat.
- The other team then gets to do the same.
- Once everyone in the each team has had a turn at being the ‘describer’, all the names are put back into the hat and everyone gets to go again. In this round, however, the describer is only allowed to use ONE word!
- In the final round, the describer isn’t allowed to use ANY words!
- Keep score after each round and tally up the total at the end of the game to declare the winning team.
Campfire games for adults
If you’re camping with teenage kids, or with no kids at all, then you can enjoy some of these campfire games for adults. Some of them are no less silly than the family-friendly games, but some of the rules are slightly more complex and challenging.
Start the night with a game of Mafia and you could end up playing for hours! It’s sort of a more complex version of wink murder, but with more characters, more deception (yes, lying is allowed), more teamwork and more back-stabbing.
It’s fairly involved to set it up and it helps if one person, who understands the game well, can direct the first round. But once you get going it’s actually really simple to play. And highly enjoyable.
Check out the rules here.
10Word association game
The simple version of this game can also go in the campfire games for kids and families category.
How to play…
- One person starts by saying a random word out loud e.g. “campfire”.
- The next person says a word associated with campfire e.g. “wood”. (If they said firewood then this would not count as “fire” was used in the first word.)
- Person 3 says a word associated with wood e.g. “furniture”. And so-on.
- Players are out of the game if they repeat a word (or part of a word), pause for too long to think about a word, or say something that the rest of the group deems unrelated to the previous word. Simples!
The more complex version follows the same rules as above. However:
- At the start of the game everyone picks a random word and keeps it to themselves.
- The aim of the game is get someone else to say your word by steering the words / theme toward the word you have chosen.
- But don’t focus too closely on your word as everyone else is also trying to get you to say their secret word!
- Once someone says someone else’s secret word they are then out of the game.
11Six degrees of Kevin Bacon
This is one of the more simple campfire games for adults, at least in terms of its rules.
How to play…
- One person says the name of a famous actor or actress (or you can pull a name out of a hat).
- Players challenge each other to find the fewest number of connections from the first name to Kevin Bacon.
- If you say the name of an actor or actress that connects to another, you have to be able to prove the connection. In theory, every actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon via 6 or fewer people.
How many can you do?!
12The Rob Whitehouse alphabet game
Created by our in-house graphic designer and gaming guru, this is one of the most unique campfire games you will come across! It can be played with only two people, but it’s better with 3 or more. It’s also pretty silly, and can be quite intense, so bear with me…
How to play…
- One player shouts out a category, e.g. “camping”.
- At the same time, another player shouts a letter, e.g. “D”.
- Everyone has to quickly think of an item from the category as close to the starting letter as they can – anything that begins with a letter that is earlier in the alphabet than the letter D, is not a good choice. But sometimes there are no other options! E.g. ‘campfire’ would be further away from something beginning with D than ‘fire’.
- As soon as one person has thought of a word they declare it and slowly count down, out loud, from 10-0. Everyone else has 10 seconds to get a word that is alphabetically closer to the letter D than the first person’s word. Make sense?!!
Once the countdown begins things can get kinda stressful, so make sure you know your alphabet before you attempt this epic(?!) and unique campfire game.
Contact is another brain-bender that is best played before the campfire tipples comes out. Or not?! It’s also ideal for long car journeys as it can get fairly involved. You need 3 or more people to play it…
How to play…
- Person 1 chooses a secret word eg: Campfire. The aim of the game is for the other players to find out what this secret word is.
- Person 1 discloses the first letter of their secret word: C.
- Persons 2 and 3 think of a words beginning with C. As soon as one of them has thought of one (e.g. custard) they give a clue to their word eg: thick and creamy.
- Person 1 says “no it’s not custard”.
- Persons 2 or 3 repeat the above until person 1 can’t answer the clue i.e. such a cryptic clue is given that they don’t know the answer. This is a good thing as the more letters of their secret word they disclose, the closer the other players are to finding out what the secret word is.
- At any point anyone else (player 1 or 2 or others, if there are more playing) can say “contact” to let the group know that they know the answer to the clue. If this person gets it right then player 1 must disclose the next letter of the word: CA.
- From hereon in, clues given by person 2 and 3 must be for words starting with CA.
- The game ends when person 2 or 3 gives a clue for the word CAMPFIRE. Player 1 then responds with “Yes, it is CAMPFIRE!”
Campfire drinking games
For those who enjoy a beer (or three) with friends to finish off a day at camp, campfire drinking games are guaranteed to get the party started. There are a ton of great drinking games out there, but they’re not all suitable for playing next to a highly dangerously burning mass. It’s always worth remembering that if things start to get too rowdy when playing drinking games around the fire, then take the games elsewhere, or just go to bed!
Simple, silly and very easy to get wrong, especially if you’re not paying attention (or have already had too many to drink!).
How to play…
- One person starts by choosing a direction of play (left or right around the circle) and saying the number 1. The next person says 2, the next person, 3, and so-on until you get to 21. Simple?
- Kinda. Players can choose to say one, two or three numbers, so long as they are in sequence.
- One number: play continues in the same direction.
- Two numbers: play changes direction and goes right back to the previous person.
- Three numbers: play continues in the same direction, but skips a person.
- If you get it wrong then you drink two fingers of your drink and start the process again at number 1.
- If you manage to get to 21 as a group then the unlucky player to say 21 has to finish their drink. BUT, they also get to choose a new rule. E.g. on multiples of 5 you have to clap instead of saying the number.
Things can get messy very quickly, so stay sharp and pay attention. And whatever you do, try not to let 21 fall on you!
15I have never
This is an insightful way of really getting to know your friends. It should only be embarked upon if everyone is willing to share their darkest secrets!
How to play…
- One person starts by saying something that they have never done. This could be something as innocent as doing a bungee jump. But it’s inevitable that some members of the group will opt for more intimate scenarios…
- Players who have also never done a bungee jump (or whatever else is suggested) do nothing.
- Players who HAVE done a bungee jump take a drink whilst all the non-bungee jumpers watch to see who chugged and who didn’t.
Play this with the wrong people and there’s a danger of it becoming mean and personal. Play it with proper friends and it can be really hilarious!
G’day Bruce is one of my favourite campfire drinking games, and one which requires bright red lipstick! It’s also a chance to bust out your best Aussie accent for even more giggles.
How to play…
- At the start of the game all players are called Bruce.
- Player 1 says to player 2: “G’day Bruce”
- Player 2 replies: “G’day Bruce”
- Player 1 says back: “Say G’day to Bruce, Bruce”.
- Player 2 then turns to player 3 and repeats the process.
- As soon as someone messes up, which is surprisingly easy to do, they take a drink. They are now no longer called Bruce, but are known as Sheila.
- If (and when) anyone called Sheila messes up, they get a big lipstick spot drawn on their face. They are then known as One Spot, instead of Sheila.
- One Spot can turn into Two Spot, and so-on. And the more names and spots involved in the game (and the more drinks consumed), the more EVERYONE is guaranteed to mess up.
This can also be done without drinks and is an excellent option to play with kids.
Campfire activities for adults, kids and families
Time sitting around warming your hands over the embers doesn’t have to be reserved for only playing campfire games. There are also lots of other fun things to do around a campfire that everyone can enjoy. After all, competitive gaming isn’t for everyone. This list of fun campfire activities for adults, kids and families should have you covered if you’re all gamed out:
17Have a campfire sing-along
Singing is one of the best campfire activities that doesn’t involve playing games. It’s fun, it’s good for the soul, it doesn’t need any equipment and you don’t really even need to be able to sing to enjoy it! Campfire sing-alongs are best done away from other groups (unless they fancy joining too?!). And it’s handy if someone can play a guitar to keep everyone on track. It’s also a good opportunity for the olds in the group to teach the young ‘uns some past classics.
For some inspiration read our campfire songs article and add a few of them to your list of things to do around a campfire.
Cooking over a fire is one of those campfire activities for adults that can become quite addictive, once you get the hang of it! It can take some practise and needs lots of patience, so it’s best not to delve straight into cooking something really complex for a large group. But if you start on simple one pot camping meals and then progress from there, you’ll soon be creating culinary masterpieces with just the right amount of crunch and smokiness with every bite!
Read our campfire equipment article for ideas of different ways to cook over a fire.
Creating and eating s’mores really ought to be at the top of everyone’s list of things to do at a campfire. They’re easy for kids to make and are just delicious to eat. You can even play around with your ingredients and try sampling other people’s creations. Campfire activities don’t get much better than that!
If you’re looking for campfire activities that you can do on your own, then whittling something is one of the best things to do around a campfire for adults. Kids can also have a go with supervision and teaching of correct technique. You’ll need to do it during daylight hours or have a good headlamp on hand. Like campfire cooking, start with something simple like a spoon or a knife and then you can progress onto more complex whittling projects from there.
To learn the basics of whittling, read our guide for beginners.
If the game of charades is proving too trying, then set the theatricals in the group off on a storytelling odyssey. A good way for everyone to get involved is for each person to tell a section of a story that they make up as they go along. They then stop at a crucial moment and pass it onto the next person to continue where they left off. It’s amazing where the story can take you and this method of storytelling is one of the more fun things to do around a campfire for kids of all ages.
If you need a few ideas to get the stories rolling then check out these campfire stories shared by people from all over the world.
Whether you prefer quiet and ponderous family campfire games or raucous and silly campfire drinking games, our list of campfire games for adults, kids, families and drinkers has something for everyone. Enjoy!
Happy gaming, happy campers!