Camping can be a blast, but it’s best when you plan ahead. Make sure your agenda includes plenty of activities, be sure to bring the right gear, and don’t forget to take along some tasty recipes to enjoy at your campsite!
Need some inspiration before you venture into the great outdoors? No problem. We’ve put together a list of 14 summer camping ideas that are guaranteed to help you have an absolutely wild time. And don’t forget to book your campsite online with CampReservations.ca!
Our Top 14 Summer Camping Ideas
#1: Try Letterboxing
This quirky hobby can turn your camping trip into an exciting scavenger hunt. Letterboxes are containers with logbooks inside that people hide in public places (like campgrounds) with clues to their whereabouts. Once you discover a letterbox, you can mark it with a stamp to prove you’ve been there. For a list of known letterboxes in Canada, click here.
#2: Make Omelettes in a Bag
One of our favourite breakfast recipes, the omelette in a bag is both easy and delicious—plus, it requires next to no cleanup! If you prep the ingredients before your trip, all you’ll need to do on the day is boil water. Here’s the recipe, and check out these other easy camping meals.
#3: Make S’mores!
If you’re camping with your children, s’mores make a tasty campfire treat guaranteed to help them enjoy their time away from civilization. Of course, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these classic campfire snacks! Learn how to make ‘em here.
#4: Bring Dryer Sheets
You won’t be doing laundry out in the woods, but dryer sheets have other uses. Use them to freshen up musty spaces (like the inside of an old tent or backpack) and place them under your tablecloth to keep bees away from your food! Just remember to dispose of them properly—nature is no place for littering.
#5: Use Your Belt to Hang Cookware
That’s right—you can save valuable table space by mounting s-hooks on your belt and wrapping it around a tree to create a makeshift set of kitchen hooks! Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
#6: Start Campfires Easily with Trick Candles
You know those candles you can buy at joke shops that relight themselves when someone blows them out? Bring a pack of those on your next camping trip, and you’ll find it a whole lot easier to start a campfire in windy weather.
#7: Save Money On a Sleeping Pad
You might not have a high-quality sleeping pad kicking around the house, but there’s a good chance you have a yoga mat—and that can work almost as well when you put it under your sleeping bag. Yoga mats also tend to be cheaper than good sleeping pads if you need to buy a new one.
#8: Make Coffee Sachets
You probably aren’t taking your coffee maker camping, but you don’t need to. Instead, just add a few spoonfuls of your favourite ground coffee to a filter and seal it with a string to create coffee bags you can steep in hot water, just like tea!
#9: Have Your Water Pull Double Duty
Clean out some empty plastic jugs and use them to freeze your drinking water before your trip. Then, keep them in your cooler to preserve perishable foods and thaw them out as needed when you need a nice cold drink.
#10: Make Campfire Hash
This versatile recipe makes a great addition to dinner, but can also be jazzed up to make a standalone breakfast or lunch! The whole thing can be prepped and cooked in under an hour, making it as convenient as it is delicious.
#11: Create Instant Lanterns For Your Campsite
Having a flashlight is great, but sometimes you want to see where you’re going in the dark while keeping your hands free. Just wrap a headlamp around one of your empty plastic jugs and tie it to a tree. Let there be light.
#12: Make Onion Bombs
We had to include at least one eccentric camping recipe on this list, and here it is! Onion bombs are just as odd and exciting as their name implies. They’re basically meat packed inside an onion, then foil-wrapped and baked over a campfire. Truly an explosion of flavour.
#13: Build a Handwashing Station
Roughing it doesn’t mean you have to forego basic hygiene. Stay healthy and keep your hands clean by using an empty laundry detergent container as a handwashing station. You can even add a roll of paper towels on top, like this person did.
#14: Use Corn Chips as Easy Kindling
Not sure you’ll be able to scrounge up enough sticks to start your campfire? In a pinch, you can actually burn corn chips like Doritos or Fritos. The grease in these products will burn easily, and can help you get a fire started when all else fails. Just don’t use them for the whole fire, since grease fires create a lot of smoke.
Put A New Spin On Summer Camping
With these new activities, campsite tips, and recipes to try, you’re about ready for your next adventure! Use what you’ve learned to get creative this summer and make this upcoming trip a truly memorable experience.
We’ve already covered the gear you’ll need to camp out in the rain, but what about having fun? After all, camping isn’t just about testing your will against the many challenges of the wilderness. You should also enjoy the experience! Believe it or not, plenty of camping activities can still put a smile on your face even when skies are wet and grey. Read on, and learn how you can prevent bad weather from putting a damper on your next camping trip.
Before We Start — a Note on Planning Ahead
Preparation for a rainy camping trip should include more than packing the right weather-proof gear. You’ll also want to think about where you’re camping since some rainy-day activities require certain natural features (more on that later). Be sure to take along spare batteries as well, since some of the suggestions on this list include the use of portable electronic devices (and last time we checked, most campgrounds are pretty short on electrical outlets).
Now that you’ve double-checked your map and stuffed a few double-As into the outside pocket of your backpack, here are twelve easy ways to have fun when it’s raining on your campsite.
If You’re Already Wet, Go Swimming!
Our relationship with water is pretty weird — we scramble to avoid it when it’s falling from the sky, but when we see a large body we’re often tempted to get in and soak ourselves from head to toe. If you’ve decided to camp near a lake or river (or if you’re camping on the coast), then try going for a swim next time it rains. When you’re already immersed in water, it’s pretty hard to be bothered by a few drops.
Bring Out the Boats
If you’re camping near a dock, why not take a canoe or kayak out on the water? Yes, you might find yourself bailing a little liquid out from the bottom of the vessel as it collects — but you’ll also find the experience of boating in the rain completely different from doing it during clear weather. The sight of mist gathering near a bank of pine trees on the shore, or the sound of frogs chirping as they come out into the open can be magical in an understated way — plus, you’re much more likely to have the lake to yourself!
Catch a Fish or Two
Why should you have to be the only one out of your element? If you have to get wet, you might as well pull a few fish out of the water and onto dry land — after all, misery loves company. Rain doesn’t keep fish from biting, either. In fact, you might be likely to catch more than usual, since the good spots probably won’t be as crowded. Just make sure you have the necessary permits.
Finish Your Summer Reading List
Not all of our rainy-day camping activities require a large body of water — and if you’re anything like us, you probably spend most of the year wishing you had more time to read all those great books your friends have recommended. Well, what better time than while you’re hiding from the rain in the middle of nowhere? Just make sure you pack your books in water-tight bags so that leaks don’t destroy them. Oh, and we don’t recommend reading outside during a deluge.
Have a Game Night
It might sound odd, but board games and playing cards are often more entertaining than usual during a camping trip. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of distractions that are usually within reach during the average family game night at home. Taking away the creature comforts of civilization really lets you focus on the object of whatever game you’re playing — in fact, the only time this writer has ever been able to pay attention long enough for a full game of Risk was during a rainy weekend camping trip with friends.
Kick Out the Jams
If anyone on your camping trip is musically inclined, have them bring along an instrument or two. When it rains, take everyone inside the tent or under a tarp and start up a jam circle! You can even include members who don’t play anything by handing them simple percussion instruments like tambourines or maracas. Remember, you’ll probably be pretty isolated — so it’s not like you need to impress a panel of celebrity judges or anything. Just have fun! Oh, and obviously we don’t recommend bringing electric instruments along (although we have to admit, busting out a sweet two-handed tapping solo in the middle of the woods somewhere would be pretty metal).
Tell Spooky Stories
Telling scary stories around the campfire is such a common camping ritual that it’s practically become a cliche. Why not make it your own this year and escape bad weather at the same time by taking the tradition inside the tent? Just switch out the campfire for a flashlight, and you should be good to go!
Make Arts and Crafts
If you’ve brought along construction paper, coloured pencils, scissors and tape, it’s easy to spend a rainy afternoon drawing or making collages in the comfort of your tent. As with other paper-oriented solutions on this list though, we recommend keeping these items sealed in waterproof bags or pouches until it’s time to use them — and make sure you have a responsible way to collect and dispose of the scraps!
Have a Movie Night!
With high-resolution screens on so many portable devices, it’s easier than ever to watch a movie or two during a rainy trip to the wilderness. We suggest that you don’t rely on streaming services to watch this content though, since network coverage can get pretty spotty when you’re camping far away from towns and cities. Consider investing in a portable DVD player, which can be powered with either batteries or a generator — and don’t forget the DVDs!
Play Video Games
Okay, nobody wants to spend their entire camping trip on their devices — but if you’ve exhausted all the other options on this list, a few portable video games can really help pass the time. This is especially true if you’re camping with children, who might have shorter attention spans and get restless during an extended period of rainy weather. Letting them play on a smartphone or portable console for a little while could keep them pacified while you take care of important tasks around camp, and give you a bit of a breather while you plan your next moves.
Play with Shadow Puppets!
If you prefer low-tech entertainment, why not make use of that flashlight we mentioned earlier and create some easy theatre with shadow puppets? This handy video will teach you how to make basic shadow-puppet shapes, and with a bit of creativity, you can quickly use them to start telling spellbinding stories (especially for the youngsters in your party, who will probably be eager to learn how to make them for themselves).
Find Indoor Attractions
When studying the area near your campground prior to setting out, make sure to create a list of places you might want to visit in nearby towns. It’s never a bad idea to camp within an hour’s drive of a town with a museum, gallery, or nice restaurant — just in case the weather turns really grim and you need to get inside for a while.
Weather Doesn’t Have to Control Your Camping Experience
Rain can be disappointing when you’re trying to enjoy nature, but you don’t have to let it ruin your vacation. There are still plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy in the rain (especially if you’re camping near water), and packing a few clever gadgets can turn even a simple tent into a game room or makeshift entertainment centre when you need to wait out bad weather. In worst-case scenarios, you might even be able to escape to an indoor location nearby. So remember: rain doesn’t have to cut your camping trip short. In fact, it could actually help you have more fun than you predicted.