36 Camp Games for Small Groups to Play

When kids go off to camp in the summer it is often some of the best times of their lives, and what makes it so fun are often the camp games that they play.

So we have put together a list of some of the best camp games for small groups to play with the kids that will have them rolling around in laughter while teaching important skills.

Included are games that fit the bill for any occasion that you may find yourself in, whether it rains on the day or you need an icebreaker for the kids to introduce one another.

Many games also encourage you or fellow camp counselors to get involved too, meaning everyone can join in on the fun.

Related: Check out our guide to other games that aren’t necessarily camp specific by looking at the best youth group games, indoor youth group games and indoor group games for kids that little ones will enjoy.

36 Fun Camp games for small groups

Bonding games for camps

1. LADDER BALL

Game Objective: Players score points by throwing a bola at the rungs of a ladder. Played in 2 teams of 3, the winners are the team who manages to score exactly 21 points. Distract the other team by shouting or through actions. Use this game to play in a tournament style.

Related: Make sure you are well versed in the ladder ball rules before teaching others the game.

Buy it: Buy a travel version of ladder ball so you can easily transport it around camp.

2. PICKLEBALL

Game Objective: Played in 2 teams, players need to hit a ball over the net to gain points. Teams volley a ball until one team makes a mistake, the other team gets awarded a point if a mistake gets made. The first team 11 points are the winners.

Related: For more information and handy tips learn how to play pickleball so you can introduce it into your camp.

Buy it: Purchase your very own pickleball set and be sure to check out the best pickleball paddles for beginners too.

3. A WHAT?

Game Objective: Gather a small group of campers into a circle. To your left, pass the camper an object and tell them ‘this is a whit’. They then reply ‘a whit’, with the camper turning to the player on their left and repeating the process. At the same time, pass a separate object to the player on your right and tell them ‘this is a watt’. Any player who hesitates or speaks out of turn is out of the game.

4. THE TREASURE HUNT GAME

Game Objective: Before the game starts, be sure to hide treasure around the camp for the campers to find. Give kids a map to use to be able to find the treasure and give clues such as pictures of an obscure area. The winning camper is the person who manages to find the most treasure.

Buy it: Either come up with treasure clues yourself, or use the Treasure Hunt game starter pack to give you inspiration.

5. CAN YOU CATCH ME?

Game Objective: Have your small group of campers spread out, and pick one at random to wear a blindfold. Then, it’s a simple game of tag with the tagged player having to don the blindfold next. Play this to exert extra energy that young campers may have.

6. APPLES TO APPLES

Game Objective: Ideal for those cold or wet evenings when you’re indoors at camp. Players compete to get the most ‘Green Apple’ cards by using their creativity. They compete to match a ‘Red Apple’ card that they have in their hand to a ‘Green Apple’ card. The judge picks the card they find the funniest.

Related: It’s an idea to get yourself familiar with the full Apples to Apple rules before playing.

Buy it: Owning your own version of Apples to Apples to bring to camp is a good idea if you need a last-minute activity to keep campers entertained.

7. BANANA TAG

Game Objective: Your classic game of tag, except in reverse. Everyone starts out ‘it’, but when a player gets tagged they have to sit down. Instruct them to keep an eye on who tags them, as when the person who tags a player gets tagged themselves, anyone that they may get tagged can rejoin the game. You can declare the last player not sitting the winner.

8. CAMPING BINGO

Game Objective: A game that you’ll want to do a bit of setup before the campers arrive. Give each camper a bingo card and call out each number so that the campers can mark off each number as they’re called individually. The winner is the camper who marks off all the numbers on their card first. Play this game as an end of the day unwind activity.

Buy it: Buy a bingo set to save time, although you can do it manually if you would prefer.

9. CORNHOLE

Game Objective: In teams, take it in turns to throw cornhole into the slot in a game board. Score points depending on which slot the cornhole lands in. The highest-scoring team once all team members have had a go wins the game.

Related: If you’re interested in playing this game at your next camp retreat, check out the full cornhole rules.

Buy it: This cornhole set from GoSports comes with everything needed to play.

10. BLIND MAN’S BLUFF

Game Objective: Set up play in a narrow playing area with your small group. Nominate one camper to be the ‘blind man’ and blindfold them, whilst also spinning them around 3 times. Players attempt to get from one side of the playing area to the other, without getting tagged by the ‘blind man’. First player tagged takes the role of the ‘blind man’ when play resumes.

11. DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE

Game Objective: Start with all campers sitting around in a circle. Have one player walk around the outside, patting each player on the head saying ‘Duck’. That player at random will then pick someone at random by saying ‘Goose’. The chosen ‘Goose’ chases that player to try to tag them before they are able to rejoin the circle. Whoever loses the race starts the game again.

12. SPIKEBALL

Game Objective: In teams of 2, players score points by bouncing a ball onto a trampoline in a way that makes your opponent unable to return the ball. The team who gets to 21 points first with 2 clear points are the winners. Play this game in teams and set up a camp tournament.

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Related: For more information including setup, read the Spikeball rules.

Buy it: Any game of Spikeball would be incomplete without the official Spikeball set.

13. MOLKKY

Game Objective: In teams, use a skittle to knock over the other skittles. Each skittle has a value, players get given 3 turns to knock over as many skittles as they can. After each player’s turn, have someone count how many skittles players knock over. Total them up whilst keeping a running tally of that player’s score. The player with the highest score at the end wins.

Related: Teach campers the Molkky rules for hours of fun gameplay.

Buy it: Molkky is available in many different versions, with this set from GoSports designed to be able to travel freely with, ideal for camp.

14. BRONCO TAG

Game Objective: Within the group, make sure everyone is in a pair before the game begins. Depending on numbers, have 1 player start as the ‘runner’ and 1 or 2 players who start as the chasers. The runner has to avoid getting tagged by the chaser, if they get tagged then the roles reverse. To be safe, the runner links arms with a pair. The person not in the middle becomes the new runner. Play until everyone is too tired to continue.

15. OBSTACLE COURSE

Game Objective: Be as innovative and creative when setting up your obstacle course. Use anything that you can find to set up tricky challenges. Get campers to get from one side to the other in the quickest time possible, or duplicate the course alongside it to make it into a team race.

16. FLINCH

Game Objective: Either yourself or another camp counselor stands in the middle of a circle of campers with a ball in hand. All campers must stand with their hands behind their back. Throw the ball in a random order, and get campers to throw the ball back. Occasionally pretend to throw the ball, if a player moves or flinches then they are out of the round. Alternatively, if they fail to catch the ball then they are also out. The last player standing gets to go in the middle for the next round.

17. STUCK IN THE MUD

Game Objective: Start with 2 teams of players and designate one team to be ‘it.’ The other team is the team whose goal is to avoid getting tagged. Once a player gets tagged, they must stand still with their legs apart. To free a teammate, players crawl through their legs to ‘unstick’ that player. Once all players are stuck, then the game ends and restarts with the roles reversed.

Related: This is an easy camp game to play to quickly wear out the campers, ready out guide on the Stuck in the Mud game for more info.

18. HORSESHOES

Game Objective: Another camp game that can be best played in a big, camp-wide tournament. Players throw a horseshoe onto a stake and they receive points depending on which stake they are able to hit. The team with the most points once all horseshoes get thrown wins the game.

Related: If you are looking for further, more in-depth analysis then check out our guide to the Horseshoe game rules.

Buy it: Play it safe by buying the plastic version of Horseshoes, although older campers may prefer playing with the steel version.

19. G-H-O-S-T

Game Objective: Sit all players in a circle, start with either yourself or another camp counselor saying a letter. The player sitting to the left then needs to say another letter that could make a word, and so on until a word gets spelled out. Any hesitation or using a letter that doesn’t make a word gives the offending player a ‘G’. Once a player has made 5 mistakes, they spell ‘GHOST’ and are out of the game. The last player at the end of the game wins.

20. MURDER IN THE DARK

Game Objective: Give all players a slip of paper. On one there should be the letter ‘D’ for the detective, one has ‘M’ for the murderer, the remaining players have a blank piece of paper. Everyone must keep their role a secret except the detective. The camper with ‘M’ winks at players to ‘murder’ them, campers can go down in dramatic fashion if they wish. The detective needs to discover who is winking at the other players before everyone is ‘killed’.

21. FRUIT SALAD – THE GAME

Game Objective: A good game to play indoors and when introducing new arrivals to the camp. Start by having all players bar one sitting on a chair in a circle, and the one player in the middle without a chair. Ask a random question, and anyone who answers ‘Yes’ has to move chairs. The chairless player is out of the game until the next round.

Related: For extra information on the Fruit Salad game including ideas for questions, check out our guide.

22. KANJAM

Game Objective: Played in teams, score points by throwing a flying disc into a kan. Played Players take it in turns within their teams to throw the disc and receive points determined by where the disc enters the kan. The first team to reach 21 points wins the game. Play this one in small groups so everyone gets a go.

Related: Make sure you read our guide to the KanJam rules to get all the information that you’re likely to need to play.

Buy it:  Get yourself the official KanJam game set for your camp.

23. NOAH’S ARK

Game Objective: A good game to play when winding down for the evening, or to do when traveling campers to their next activity. Campers must take it in turns naming animals beginning with each letter of the alphabet, starting with ‘A’. Any hesitation, failure to answer in time, or repeating animals means the offending player is out. Once you get to ‘Z’, start the game again at ‘A’ by naming different animals.

24. IT COULD BE WORSE

Game Objective: A player starts by telling the group something that has happened to them, such as ‘yesterday I wore odd socks’. The next player in the circle has to top it by saying ‘It could be worse…’ followed by a statement. The rest of the circle decides which one of the statements is worse, with a point given to the person picked. They also stay on whilst a new challenger says their statement.

25. SPONGE RELAY

Game Objective: Divide campers up into 2 teams, and place a bucket filled with water at the end of both lines and an empty bucket about half a field apart. Players must fill up the empty bucket with a sponge dunked into the full bucket – and they must hold the sponge over their head at all times. The first team to fill up their empty bucket wins the game.

26. FIREMAN WATER RELAY

Game Objective: Form a line with all campers, with the player at the front being about 10 feet away from the hose. Each player gets given a cup, except one nominated player who takes control of the fire hose. A bucket is at the end of the line, and the goal is to fill up the bucket with the water from the hose by only using the cups of water. Each cup must be within the chain before players can place the water into the bucket. A great camp game for small groups to encourage teamwork.

27. BOCCE BALL

Game Objective: In teams, set a jack down and roll a bocce ball to get it as close to the jack as possible. The closer the ball is to the jack, the more points that team scores. Count up the total points after 4 frames, with the team with the most points winning the game.

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Related: Learn the Bocce Ball rules by having a look at our helpful and informative guide.

Buy it: This set by Ropoda comes with everything that you’ll need for a successful game of Bocce Ball.

28. HOT SEAT

Game Objective: Have one person sit on a chair facing the rest of the group. Hold up a word of an object, the group needs to give clues to the camper on the chair without saying the object. Whoever can guess in the quickest time wins the game.

29. TWISTER

Game Objective: Play this family classic either inside or outside. Played until the last camper left standing by avoiding being the only person to not fall over. Players place their body limbs on the colored areas that get spun on the wheel. They then have to successfully leave their limb on the colored tile without toppling.

Related: Learn more about the Twister game rules before letting campers play.

Buy it: Twister, made by Hasbro, is available in many different versions but we recommend sticking with the classic.

30. WATER BALLOON TOSS GAME

Game Objective: Play this one when it’s a particularly hot day. Get campers to throw a water balloon underarm to another player. They must throw in a way that avoids bursting the balloon when catching. If the balloon bursts, the player who gets wet is out of the game, with the last player to avoid getting wet winning the game.

Related: If you’re interested in the water balloon toss game, be sure to read about the depth instructions first.

31. CAMOUFLAGE

Game Objective: Play in an area where there are plenty of trees or cover for campers. The camp counselor randomly shouts ‘CAMOUFLAGE’ and counts to 10. Campers must try to hide or blend in with their surroundings so that the counselor cannot see them. Without moving, the counselor shouts out the names of the campers that they think they can spot. Anyone left stays put while the counselor shouts out ‘Green Light’. They then all attempt to touch the counselor first, with the winner being the first to touch.

32. PASS THE WATER

Game Objective: This one is best played when the weather is hot. Get campers into 2 teams in a line and have them all hold a cup. The person at the front has a full bucket of water that they fill their cup up with, and must pass it down the line by pouring it behind them into the next player’s cup. This continues down the line until the player at the end pours what’s left into an empty bucket at the end. Once the buckets at the front of the line are empty, whichever team has managed to fill their bucket up the most wins the game.

33. FOLLOW THE LEADER

Game Objective: A communication game, except no talking! Nominate 1 camper to be the leader, and simply have the others follow what they do exactly. So if the leader jumps, then all other players jump as well. The last person to follow the command gets eliminated from the game. The last person still in the game becomes the new leader for the next game.

34. BUMP, SET, SPIKE

Game Objective: Stand in the middle of a circle with a beachball. Spike the beachball to another player in the circle, who then spikes to another player, and so on. Players can only touch the ball once, if touched more than once or the ball hits the floor then the offending player must stand in the middle. They can rejoin the circle and replace another player if they are able to catch the beach ball mid spike. The last person to stay in the circle wins the game.

35. FRICKET

Game Objective: Players start by setting up cups on several poles and forming 2 teams. Using a frisbee, the players take turns to attempt to hit the cups off of the poles. A point gets received by the team every time they knock a cup off of a pole. The team with the most points by the end wins the game.

Related: Fricket is a simple game to learn, but check out the Fricket rules to make sure you have all bases covered.

Buy it: You won’t need too much equipment for this one, and fortunately this bottle bash set is exactly what you’ll need to play.

36. SKITS IN A BAG

Game Objective: Divide the small group up into pairs, and be sure to have a bag of assorted props ready before playing. Give each pair 2 random objects from the bag. The goal is for the pair to create a skit using the objects. Judge each skit and decide who was the best at the end of the game.

Wrap Up

These are some of our favorite camp games for small groups that will leave your campers happy and entertained if you choose to play them.

But our lists of fun games don’t end there.

If you’re looking for group games that are ideal for certain ages, then we’ve got you covered with our lists of group games for preschoolers and group games for teenagers.


— Update: 05-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 Camp Staff Bonding Activity Ideas from the website www.mainstages.com for the keyword bonding games for camps.

Building community is one of the best parts of camp! The first thing that most campers (and staff!) do when they arrive is an orientation for everyone to get to know each other. This initial opportunity for bonding is great, but as the summer goes on, it can be easy for both campers and staff to stick with people they already know, possibly alienating potential friends.

Regular structured bonding activities are an important part of fostering an inclusive and fun camp experience for everyone, especially staff! And with sleep-away camp staff not able to leave camp as often as previous summers, it’s important to build in social bonding opportunities. Whether you’re in charge of organizing official camp activities or just want to gather informally to get to know everyone a bit better, these 7 camp staff bonding activity ideas are for you!

1. Human Board Game Night

You’ve heard of board game night, but have you heard of HUMAN board game night? Instead of the traditional board game night, spice it up by making life-size versions of your favorite games with camp staff as the moving pieces. Games that work well in this format include: tic tac toe, chess, checkers, or even scrabble with printed letters! 

Bonding games for camps

2. Lip-Sync/Air Guitar Contest

A classic, the lip-sync/air guitar contest gets people thinking creatively and putting themselves out there. You can have people sign up as a solo act, or put people into teams (maybe with someone they haven’t met or spent much time with?) for more collaboration. Get everyone into the spirit by giving enough notice so that people can practice during their downtime. For a fun twist, encourage participants to wear costumes and channel their inner diva!

3. The Masked Counselor

Bring the popular TV show to your camp this summer. Do this as part of a staff-only bonding experience, or for the whole camp to double as evening entertainment. The basic premise is that someone (or a group of people) wears some sort of mask or costume that disguises who they are. In the absence of those, you can also use a wall or a sheet to hide the counselor behind! Then they sing a song or otherwise perform and the audience tries to guess who they are. There’s a fun competitive element here that you can use or lose depending on your preference.

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Bonding games for camps

4. Camp’s Got Talent!

The talent show is a staple of summer camp. Switch it up by encouraging only weird talents, or only original content. We provide all of our camp staff with talent show sign-up lists to put up prior to the event. These can be for staff by staff, for the whole camp with only staff performing, or an all-inclusive staff and camper event! Up the ante by offering a prize for the winner(s)!

5. Game Show and/or Dance Party

These are perfect options for our Masters of Fun (camp staff in charge of camp-wide entertainment), but they are also great for anyone who has the technology or wants to get creative. The mainstages Game Show is a blend of trivia questions and physical challenges that gets everyone participating. Usually, we use buzzers and other props, but you don’t really need anything fancy. You can use good old-fashioned hand-raising or even colorful spoons. As for the Dance Party, those of you with mainstages A/V equipment are already set, but anyone with access to speakers and a headphone jack can find a way to make it work! Dance parties can be a bit less interactive than Game Shows, so get more people involved with group dances that everyone knows or Action Zone games with the dancing.

6. Movie Night 

A lower-key option for rainy nights or busy times (like the lead-up to Color War), this option is pretty self-explanatory: just hook up your movie-watching equipment of choice and press play! Try amping it up by asking people to dress in movie-related costumes or hosting an “intermission” show featuring movie-related trivia. You could even host an ongoing series of movie nights throughout the summer, with different movies in a series or with a specific theme. 

7. All-Summer-Long Challenges and Games

Why keep the fun limited to evenings when the campers have gone to their bunks? There are a whole host of games that can be played during the day, and no one would ever know it was going on! You've probably heard of a game that goes by many different names (Werewolf, Mafia, Bang Bang You’re Dead, etc.) where someone secretly has to tag someone else without anyone else seeing. Your camp’s version can involve code words, a secret movement, or really anything your imagination can dream up. It’s a great way to get everyone talking and interacting with people beyond their typical group. And it keeps everyone on their toes throughout the summer!

Bonding games for camps

Need more ideas? Other options include:

  • Campfire Sing-a-long & Stories
  • “Whose Line is it Anyways”-style comedy show
  • “SNL”-style sketch show
  • Carnival
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Fashion Show

If you find something during the course of your summer that we haven’t mentioned here, please feel free to let us know! We’re always looking for more and better ways to encourage camp-community bonding! We hope that this list of 7 camp staff bonding activity ideas will be helpful to you this summer, and beyond!


— Update: 06-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Five great school camp games for team building from the website coffscoastadventurecentre.com.au for the keyword bonding games for camps.

5th Aug 2019

Bonding games for camps

Play is a natural and fun way to develop team spirit and skills. So, it’s a great idea to have a good cache of school camp games up your sleeve when your aim is to build students’ as a team. To supplement the large selection of Coffs Coast Adventure Centre’s team building activities, here are five of our favourite school camp games.

Nature’s orchestra

This game challenges students to think outside the box and work together to discover the beauty of nature through sound.

● Split students into pairs and give them a time limit and defined area.
● Each pair has to create an instrument using natural materials (reinforce ground rules re respecting the environment).
● Some suggestions to create sound include, rubbing, blowing, banging, sliding, clicking.
● Regroup and have each pair demonstrate their instrument.
● Select a conductor who then chooses a familiar song or tune for the ‘orchestra’ to play.
● Swap around the conductor and take requests for songs.

Loud and proud

Music works well as an ice-breaker so here’s another idea that will have your students buzzing.

●Form groups of 3-4.
● Call out a random word e.g. rain, night, world, dream, moon, Christmas.
● Give groups around 30 secs to come up with a song (PG rated) that contains the key word.
● When the time is up, select random groups to perform part of their song.
● If you want to score, give bonus points for great performances and originality.

Human machines

Involving everyone in school camp games is an important part of team building. This game ensures maximum participation and a lot of laughs.

● Groups of 5-6 (or even larger) work well for this game.
● The objective is for each group to work together to create a machine that uses every team member. It could be a car, submarine, cuckoo clock, steamroller – teams are only limited by their imaginations.
● Give the students a time limit and encourage the inclusion of sounds and mechanical movements.
● After each group has presented their invention, encourage the students to join forces and develop a series of machines linked together by a common theme.

Game changer

This will test your students’ observation skills.

● Students will need to be in two even teams of around 10 -12 students (adapt the number of teams to suit your group).
● Team 1 faces team 2. Give Team 2 three minutes to study the appearance of Team 1.
● Once the time is up, Team 2 leaves the area while Team 1 changes one thing about each team member.
● Changes must be noticeable e.g. removing a shoe etc (make sure you hide objects that are removed).
● Team 2 then comes back and races against time to list the changes.
● Teams swap roles and Team 1 tries to beat the time.

Hit and run

A twist on an old faithful.

● Form two even teams (any number works)
● One team bats first while the other fields.
● The first batter stands in the middle of a circle formed by their team and uses a tennis racquet (or similar) to hit a ball as far as they can into the playing area.
● The batter then has to go around the circle naming each person in their team (to make it harder you could include surnames).
● Each time they complete the names around the circle counts as a run.
● Meanwhile, the fielding team retrieve the ball, form a line and pass the ball through the legs of the person behind. When the ball gets to the end of the line the person yells for the runs to stop being counted.
● The game continues until everyone has had a turn to bat.
● Tip – mix the circle up so the names aren’t in the same order.

You can also check out more school camp games in our previous blog posts:
Fostering leadership skills on school camp
Make rainy days shine
Five Top Tips to Create a Culturally Enriching School Camp Experience

Shannon, our Camp Concierge would also love to help you incorporate school camp games into your camp program. Give her a call today.

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi