One of the best things when camping out in the bush is the amount of free hours available in the evening.
One of the best things to consider when camping out in the bush is the amount of free hours available in the evening, and deciding how to occupy that time. Generally campers choose to have dinner early to make the most of the daylight, and this usually results in having a few, or many hours to fill prior to bedtime.
In the absence of computers and television, kids quickly become bored with general fireside chit-chat, and want something more engaging to do. The reality is that a camping environment is markedly different to that of home, there’s usually limited lighting and often poor mobile reception, so here are some fun campsite activities to help you pass the time.
Early evenings are a good time to spot wildlife around the campsite using a powerful torch. Possums and wallabies are often seen lurking nearby, ready to pounce on and eat any food left lying about. A short walk can reveal more wildlife further afield via torch beams. Just make sure everybody stays together and there is an adult in the lead (also one at the back if possible) looking out for snakes, tripping obstacles and other hazards.
Budding astronomers can look skyward with binoculars, or even the naked eye, to identify various constellations from star maps. People new to bush camping away from major city centres are often amazed at how bright the stars are on clear nights. Some planets are often visible, while the moon is an obvious focal point especially when it is full. Jet planes, satellites, and the occasional shooting star can keep both young and old interested.
Young campers always enjoy playing shadow puppets with a torch and finger manipulation. Figurines can be projected from the interior of a thin tent for the amusement of those looking on from outside. Alternatively, shadows can be thrown onto a tent wall from outside, with the audience instructed to guess the animal or object.
A variation on this theme is to use sticks or other props to produce a broader range of silhouettes. Some puppeteers use paper or cardboard cut-outs from cereal box packets to produce very sophisticated models. The adults should help with the mechanics of arranging this type of performance, but leave the actual process to the kids themselves.
Another nocturnal outlet for artistic expression is to use a narrow beam torch to trace an outline in the tree canopy or on a tent wall. Other campers then take turns to identify the animal or object depicted.
Other campfire activities can include I Spy, although usually best undertaken in the daylight hours, it can be fun in well lit camps. Twenty Questions is another favourite, where one participant thinks of something (it could be an animal, object or person), and is asked relevant questions by others, one at a time around the campfire. The response to questions can only be yes, no or don’t know, until enough information is gathered for somebody to guess the answer, although this process is limited to, yep, you guessed it, 20 questions.
Murder in the Dark, sometimes called Assassin, is a game that can be played amid general conversation around the campfire. A piece of paper is randomly selected from a bowl by every inpidual in the camping group, one piece has the word assassin written on it. The assassin is required to kill all of the participants one by one, with a discrete wink of the eye. The winked-at victims must take some time to acknowledge their death, so that the assassin cannot be identified immediately. The object of the game is for the assassin to kill off all of the campfire group before being witnessed winking, but is out if somebody’s makes the correct guess.
Sometimes just the simple act of sitting around a campfire, and telling stories of old, or recounting past holidays is fun for everyone. It’s amazing how quickly the kids will fall asleep early after a hectic day of activities and a good meal. Watching the flames dance about and engaging in silly conversation is a great way to end a day in the bush
Taking the opportunity to play some of these games at the campsite is a great way to forget (momentarily) about technology and build a life long love affair with the Aussie Bush.