Play these 3 games at your next campfire

campfire, guy stooping to toast marshmallow over fire

Spending a brisk, winter’s night gathered around a campfire is a great way to enjoy family time. Whether you’re loading up some tents and a trunk full of food for a weekend by the lake or simply hanging out at home on a Friday night, campfires make family time tons of fun.

In 36 years of parenting, I’ve enjoyed many a night by a campfire. Some of my favorite memories include listening to my sons play guitar and singing along with my kids as we bask in the warm glow of a fire. If you’re feeling festive and want to keep everyone entertained, play these three campfire games to get everyone laughing and having a good time!

In the pond, out of the pond

The thing about campfire games is that you don’t want to have to use objects that could fall into the fire or pose a hazard in some way. In fact, games that require no props at all are the best! “In the pond, out of the pond” is a game for all ages. It’s easy to play. It’s silly and lots of fun.

Everyone seated around the campfire must put their hands on their thighs to start the game. Choose someone to be the caller. The caller will shout one of three phrases shown in the following list:

  • In the pond
  • Out of the pond
  • On the bank

Any time you hear “in the pond,” you must stretch your arms and hands out toward the center of the fire circle. If the caller yells “on the bank,” your hands rest back on your thighs again. When the caller shouts “out of the pond,” you lift your arms above your head.

The idea is for the caller to be quick in shouting instructions, so that someone will mess up and place their arms in the wrong position. When that happens, he or she is out of the game and must sit on his or her hands until there’s only one player left. This person is declared the winner!

Campfire name mangler

This is a game my family actually made up during a camping trip long ago. You can either choose a category, such as “family members” or “celebrities,” or just play “anything goes” to increase the challenge. The person whose turn it is thinks of a name. For the purpose of explaining how to play the game, I’m going to use the name “Kevin Costner.” The idea is to announce the name in a “mangled” way so that everyone has to guess what you’re saying.

For this name, I might say “Ka-vinkas Nurr” — get it? Another example would be to mangle the name “ Christina Aguilera” to be “Kri-stinagual-erraahh”. It’s a bit difficult to explain in writing as opposed to me pronouncing these names as I would if we were playing the game in person.

Practice a few times by reading my examples out loud as quickly as you can so the names sound “mangled.” Once you get the hang of it, it’s super fun and usually stirs up a lot of boisterous laughter around the campfire!

Building empires

This is a perfect campfire game for a large group. You need a pen and a piece of paper to play. One person agrees to be the judge and does not participate in the round. Each player secretly tells the judge a not-well-known fact about himself or herself, and the judge writes it down. The judge also writes down three false facts unrelated to anyone.

To play, the judge reads the facts. The first player chooses a fact and tries to guess the person with whom the fact is associated. If the player’s guess is correct, that person must go sit next to the guesser to join his or her empire. If you guess someone who already has people in his or her empire, and you’re guess is correct, they ALL must join your empire! Play continues until someone has won everyone over to his or her empire!

Note: The false facts increase the challenge. If a player correctly guesses that a fact is false, it is simply thrown out of the game. If the fact is NOT false, the judge states “This is not a false fact.” Learning this information can help players determine fact from fiction and which facts belong to which players!

Spend some campfire fun with your family this year

Campfires create the perfect atmosphere for rest, relaxation and family fun. You can keep things basic and simple with some hot cider or marshmallows to toast or cook a whole supper over the fire. Life is busy, current events are chaotic, and most people are yearning for companionship, peace and a sense of belonging. Enjoying an evening around a campfire is a great way to spend some quality family time!

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