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Campfires are the perfect setting for songs, s’mores, scary stories and great conversation. Sitting around the campfire is also a great time to give some new games a try.
Whether you’re distracting the kids, playing together as a family or looking for something that will entertain your adult friends, this list has something for everyone.
Campfire Games For Families
If you’re adventuring with family or people of varying ages, try one of these three campfire games. They’re fun for any age group and can be adapted depending on the ability of the players.
1. Winking Assassin
Winking Assassin is an easy murder mystery game that can be played around the campfire.
To play, pick one person to be the Detective. Next, you need to secretly assign the role of Assassin. This can be done by cutting up enough pieces of paper for everyone in the group but the detective. Write “A” on one of the pieces to signify the Assassin then have everyone draw a piece of paper from a hat. Alternatively, you can hand out playing cards and the person who gets a specific card is the Assassin.
Once everyone knows their roles, the game begins.
The Assassin will try and ‘kill’ other members of the group by winking at them. If someone sees the Assassin wink at them, they must count to five in their head and then pretend to ‘die’. They can do this as subtly or dramatically as they want. They can close their eyes, droop their head, fall off their seat or anything they are comfortable with. The only rule is that the Detective needs to be able to see that they are ‘dead’.
While this is happening, the Detective will try and figure out who the Assassin is before they wipe out the entire group. To prevent the Detective from just shouting out everyone’s name in turn, give them a limit on how many guesses they can make.
If the detective finds the Assassin before everyone is ‘killed’ then the Detective wins and a new one is chosen. If the Assassin wins, they become the next detective.
Charades is a family game night classic but it’s also a great campfire game. If you have younger team members, let them pair up with an adult. Alternatively, you can have an adult from the other team help them with their actions.
To play, you will need:
- A stopwatch
- A way to keep score
- 2 containers
- Slips of paper
Once you have your supplies, divide everyone into two equal sized teams. Each team will then be given a container and some slips of paper. Each group should receive the same amount of paper.
Have the teams go to separate spaces and write down a play, book, tv show or movie on each piece of paper. As a general rule, you want to choose titles that at least 3 people have heard of. You also want to keep the titles under 8 words and consider the age group of those playing. If there are a lot of kids, you could do a Disney theme.
Once done, teams will put their paper into their container and return to the campfire. Each team will then take turns with one person acting out the title they drew from the other team’s container.
The actor will start by indicating the category:
- Book title: Unfold your hands as if they were a book.
- Movie title: Pretend to crank an old-fashioned movie camera.
- Play title: Pretend to pull the rope that opens a theater curtain.
- Song title: Pretend to sing.
- TV show: Draw a rectangle to outline the TV screen.
- Quote or Phrase: Make quotation marks in the air with your fingers.
Next, indicate the number of words in the title by showing that many fingers. Hold up the number of fingers needed to indicate which word your team is guessing. (i.e. for the third word, hold up three fingers).
If you want to break it down further, you can tell the group how many syllables are in the word. Do this by placing the appropriate number of fingers on your arm. Next, indicate which syllable the group is guessing by laying that number of fingers on your arm.
You can use other gestures to help the group along:
- Size of the word – make a little or big gesture, as if measuring a fish
- Correct guess – if someone makes a correct guess, point at your nose
- Sounds like – cup one ear to tell the group your word sounds like another word then act out the other word
- Plural – if the word is a plural, link your pinkies
- Past tense – if the word is in past tense, wave your hand over your shoulder
You’ll have 2 to 3 minutes to act out the title while your team guesses. If someone guesses it right, your team gets a point and the next team is up.
3. 20 Questions
20 questions is a fun game that can be played anywhere – at home, on a road trip and while camping. And the rules are pretty simple:
One player chooses a person, place or thing but doesn’t tell anybody what it is. The remaining players then take turns asking yes/no questions and guessing what it is.
As the name of the game suggests, generally, the group can only ask 20 questions. But you can adjust this number based on the number of players. For example, if you have 3 guessers, you can let everyone ask 7 questions each. You can also increase/decrease the amount of questions based on how difficult you want the game to be.
If a player guesses right, they start a new round by choosing a new person, place or thing.
If nobody gets it right by the end of the question round, give everyone one more chance to guess what it is. Nobody guessed right? Have the player choose a new word and start again.
To help make the game easier, you can choose a theme such as animals, food or cities in Ontario.
Campfire Games For Kids
If you’re with lots of young kids and are looking for a way to keep them entertained while the adults relax, here are three fun campfire games.
1. Sound Train
Sound Train is a great word game. It’s fun to play and can help young children work on word sounds.
The players all agree on an initial sound, such as ‘t’, ‘sh’ or ‘r’. Each player then takes a turn saying a word that begins with that sound. Play continues around the circle until someone can’t think of a word. When that happens, the person next to them picks a new sound and the next round starts.
To make it more challenging, keep time. But instead of using a timer, use a rhythm like clap-clap-stomp. Each player then has to come up with a word before the stomp. If not, they lose and the next round begins.
Numbers is another super easy but incredibly fun game and it is great for almost any age group.
The goal is to count in order from 1 to whatever number the group can make it to. If you have young kids in the group, you can cap the game at the highest number they know, or use it as an opportunity for them to learn how to count higher.
Sounds easy, right? There’s a bit more to it …
Anyone can speak at any time and say any number of numbers as long as they are in order. As soon as two people say the same number you have to start over.
Keep challenging yourselves to get to a higher number every time.
3. In The Pond, Out Of The Pond
In The Pond, Out Of The Pond is similar to Simon says but with specific commands. And while players will need to move around, they won’t have to get out of their seat, which makes it a safe game for playing around the fire.
Start by assigning a Caller. Everyone else will sit around the fire with their hands on their thighs.
The Caller will call out one of three statements.
- In the pond – players put their hands into the circle towards the fire.
- Out of the pond – players put hands in the air over their heads.
- On the bank – players return hands to thighs.
The statements don’t have to be said in any particular order and can be repeated.
The other players then have to do the associated action. If a player does the wrong action, they have to sit on their hands and are out of the game.
The last player remaining wins and becomes the new Caller.
Campfire Games For Adults
If you’re heading out camping with an all adult group, here are 3 more complicated games to play. They can also be great campfire games to play if you have older kids with you.
1. Word Association
The simple version of this game can be played with kids and families. Someone starts the game by saying a random word. Each person then says a word associated with the word the previous person said.
Example: If the game starts with “chair”, the next person could say “furniture”. The person after them could then say “house” and so on.
Players get kicked out of the game if:
- They repeat a word or part of a word (i.e. someone says camp then the next person says campfire).
- They say something that the group feels is unrelated.
- They take too long to say a word.
In the more complex version, everyone writes a random word on a piece of paper and keeps it to themself. While playing the game, every player will try and steer the words people guess towards their random word.
If someone says someone else’s secret word, the person shows the group the word they wrote down and the person who guessed it is out.
This game is usually played as a drinking game but it is still lots of fun without alcohol.
Like numbers, the goal is to count upwards from 1 but the rules are a bit different.
The person who will be going first chooses the direction of play and then says up to three consecutive numbers starting from 1. The next person continues counting, saying a maximum of three numbers. They can also choose to say only one or two numbers.
The trick is that the amount of numbers each person says will affect how the game continues. If they say:
- 1 number: play continues in the same direction
- 2 numbers: play continues in the opposite direction
- 3 numbers: play continue in the same direction but skips a person
If someone messes up they have to take a drink and the game starts again from 1.
Once the group makes it to 21, the person who said 21 drinks and then makes a new rule for the next round. For example, they may say for multiples of five you have to clap instead of saying the number.
This game is a variation of Mafia, which was invented in 1986. It sounds complicated to start, but once you start playing, it gets easier.
The game requires a minimum of 7 people to play, though more is better. If you play with less than 7 only choose one werewolf. If there are more than 7 people, add another werewolf for every 8 additional people.
To play, everyone sits around the fire and chooses a leader. The leader won’t participate in game play but will instead manage the game.
The leader gets everyone to close their eyes then touches two people’s heads – they open their eyes so they can see each other. These are the werewolves. The werewolves point to someone they want to ‘kill’.
The werewolves close their eyes.
The leader taps another person on the head. This person is the informant. They open their eyes and point to a person. The leader silently confirms whether that person is a werewolf. Have the informant close their eyes again.
Everyone opens their eyes and the leader announces who is dead.
The remaining players will try to determine who the werewolves are. The informant can help but can’t say the werewolves’ names if they know who they are. They must also avoid letting the werewolves know they are the informant or they may become the next target.
The werewolves must also pretend that they are guessing who the werewolves are to avoid being found out.
After a short amount of time, ask the villagers to vote on their suspect. The person with the most votes ‘dies’ and reveals whether they’re a werewolf.
Everyone closes their eyes again. The werewolves pick someone else to ‘kill’ and the informant selects another person to find out about.
The game is over when both werewolves are dead. If the number of villagers is less than or equal to the number of werewolves at any point, the werewolves win.
You can add a twist by choosing a doctor at the beginning of the game, as well. After the informant has closed their eyes again, tap another person. When they open their eyes, get them to point to the person they want to save.
Have them close their eyes and then tell everyone to open their eyes. If the doctor picked the same person as the werewolves, announce that the doctor saved someone.
These are just some of the many campfire games for kids, families and adults to play. If you’re looking for more fun things to do, take a look at these fun cottage activities. Many of them are great pastimes for campers as well.