Ahh, it’s a camping trip with Dad. Sunny skies, warm days, a couple of clouds. A couple more clouds. A lot more clouds. A flash, a bang and suddenly it’s pouring rain on the campsite. A few soaked minutes battening down the hatches and everyone’s in the tent. Now what?
If you’re camping out west, you might be under the fabric for an hour or so as the monsoon passes; or not. If you’re lucky, someone brought Scrabble, Monopoly, a deck of cards and remembered to put them into the tent. Perhaps they’re still in the car, just a rain-soaking run across the muddy campsite. There are games you can play that bring families together without a board or a bother.
Once Upon A Time
Everybody likes fairy tales—or tall tales. Stories are filled with heroes of both sexes, villains, magic, tension and a happy ending. Everybody in the tent gets a chance to build the fairy tale or the tall tale a few sentences at a time. Fairy tales are well known, but tall tales are built on exaggeration of real events or outright imagination.
Choose who goes first (rock-paper-scissors, pick a number or volunteer), start the story with “Once upon a time … ” a couple of sentences to set the scene. Helping younger family members with the challenge, suggest the opening spell out who is going to be the star, where he or she lives, and the current setting—good or challenging.
It might go: “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle. She had a dog that was her best friend, a cat she loved, and everything she could ask for.”
The next player adds to the story. Someone—probably dad—has to live edit the developing story ensuring characters, a setting, a tension-causing event (a quest, rescue, difficult task), conflict, resolution of the conflict and a logical ending. This keeps someone from making the second paragraph, “She lived happily ever after.”
As the story progresses, there are two ways to “win” the game. One is that the person who arrives at a point to make a logical conclusion to the story can end it and win. This puts a burden on players at the end to try and keep tension or conflict so that the next person has to continue the story. In the other version, the person forced to end the story is not the winner, and so creativity is needed to continue the story by adding new conflicts or tension and dragging out the plot.
Remember Mad Libs®? Is that dim bulb glowing in the memory cobwebs? There are a couple of ways of doing this. The quick-start method is to take a piece of paper and number 1 to 12 down the side. Randomly mark four of the numbers “N” for noun, four more “V” for verb, four each of “A” adjective and “D” or “B” for adverb. Go around the group of players asking for a word to fill in the appropriate type of word–but so no one can remember the order, ask for four nouns, then four verbs, and so on. Then the player going first takes the word at #1 and makes up a sentence that uses that word. The next player has to take the word in the second slot and make a sentence that (a) is a (sort of) logical extension of the first sentence and (b) uses the next word. The process repeats until all 12 sentences have structured a story. There are no winners or losers, just lots of laughs. One suggestion is to leave space between words on the list so that the list can be fan-folded so that only the current and previously used words can be seen.
Some tents are tall enough for standing, but few are big enough for moving around and acting, so team up to play Charades—limited to hands and facial expressions, or movement above the waist.
Spell a word with your finger as a pen writing on the next player’s back. See if the word can be guessed. One point for each correct guess. Keep the words appropriate in length for the age of participants.
Collect eight words for each person in a manner similar to Camp Libs. Each player has to make an eight-line poem using the words in consecutive order.
What Am I?
Each participant imitates an animal, and the others must guess which animal.
Plan Gaming Ahead
Rain and camping seem to go together like, well, mosquitos and camping. So it’s always a good idea to pack a deck of cards or a board game the family enjoys to put in a corner of the tent just in case of rain. There is also the chance the bugs can get so bad that a few dusk or dawn hours may be needed out of the open. Those packed games can be temper and event savers.
Photo: A thunderstorm pounds the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Beautiful, but in 30 minutes, it’s going to be soaking the campsite. A good time to start thinking about what to do with the kids in the tent. (Photo: Eric Jay Toll)