Campfire games were always the highlight of the carefree, summer nights of childhood. Whether part of summer camp activities or during a family weekend trip, many of us have blissful memories engaging with our friends well past bedtime curfews. There were no smartphones or other gadgets in sight to distract the attention of campfire game participants. The only thing that may have distracted everyone was the occasional crackle of what “sounded like footsteps” in the distant woods or when it was time to eat the melted deflated puff of a marshmallow that was strategically cooked over the sizzling roasting fire.
The memories of those summer nights will never be lost and gone forever, in fact, campfire games are still a great way to spend fun times with friends and family and the best part is that the only thing required is a little brain power, participants, time and laughter! No game board pieces, score keeping, batteries, smartphones or tools needed and hardly any rules. In fact, the only rule that applies to all games is that there should be no smartphones or other gadgets allowed during the games. However, be sure to keep a flashlight close by in the event you hear the crackle of footsteps in the nearby woods and you need to investigate.
Grab your participants and maybe some snacks and marshmallows and pick a game from this list of 7 fun campfire games! They are listed in no particular order, but are guaranteed to engage brains, spark some laughter and will help create some pretty cool memories.
# 1 “Team Story Telling”
“Team Story Telling” also goes by the name, “Start the Story”. It is a great way for everyone to allow their imaginations to go crazy and this game also gives everyone an equal chance to contribute their unique addition of creativity and silliness to the story. You never know if there is a budding author in your group unless you try this fun game that will certainly test your skills of wit and creativity and your ability to think quickly! Be prepared to discover just how whacky of a story your friends and family create.
To start the story, pick someone to contribute the first few lines of a story and going around the circle, every one adds a few lines to the story. The game ends when the last camper adds their lines or if the participants choose, they can continue for a few more rounds! If someone can’t think of lines to add quickly, they are out of the game. To keep time, participants can pat their knees with their hands two times then clap. After the clap, it’s the next person’s turn and they immediately begin to add their lines to the on-going story.
If you were eavesdropping on a team of campers playing this game, this is what it might sound like:
The first player starts the story with, “When I was walking in the woods one dark night, I found a time machine. I opened the door to the time machine and I saw a frog sitting on a cupcake knitting a scarf. I asked the frog, “Why are you knitting a scarf? He said, “Because it’s cold in Zimbabwe.” Then the time machine began to shake!”
The player than pats his or her knees twice and claps to let the next person know that they are finished with their lines and it is their turn to play.
Then the next player adds a few more lines such as, “The frog and I looked around to see dinosaurs chasing us! We ran back into the time machine to see if we could start the machine and go to the future! The machine starts with a crackle and bang and all of a sudden, we are in Zimbabwe! ”
The player keeps the time with the “pat, pat – clap”! Next player adds to the story!
This game is sure to create entertainment for hours!
This game definitely requires some great memory and listening skills. In the campfire game called “Concentration”, the first player chooses a category such as states, boys’ names or grocery store items. The player then names an item that is associated with the category he or she chose and names an item starts with the letter “A”.
The next player repeats what the first player said and then adds a word that starts with the next letter in the alphabet which is “B”. The third player repeats what the second player said, then says the next word that starts with the letter “C”.
All the words must relate to the category the first player chose and the game continues until someone forgets to repeat the previous player’s word, doesn’t know a word or forgets the letter.
Here is how this game is played:
The first player says, “I choose girls’ first names as my category. My first name is Amanda.”
To keep the time, do the optional “pat, pat” on the knees and then clap!” to prompt the next person that it is their turn.
The second player repeats the first player’s word and then says their word. For example, the second players says, “Amanda. Barbara.” If their word does not relate to the category, they are out of the game.
Next, the third player says, “Barbara. Carol.” And the game continues until the end or if players choose, they can continue to go around the circle a few more times.
If you want to add more of a challenge and everyone really wants to discover who the best listener is, players must repeat all the names or items previously said by all players before they provide their name or item! This works better when there are more than five players.
If this still is not enough of a challenge then instead of starting with the letter “A”, start with the letter “Z” and work backwards from the alphabet. Most people can’t do this quickly so this should add a little more complexity to the game.
Some other interesting categories can be green vegetables, movies, sports, countries, first or last names of presidents, animals found in a zoo or things found in a closet.
#3 “Fortunate – Unfortunate”
“Fortunate – Unfortunate” is sure to be a favorite among all campfire games. The first player makes a fortunate or positive statement or states a fortunate or positive event and the next player must provide a response that negates their statement by replying with an unfortunate or negative event or statement. The more absurd the statements or events the more difficult contributing the opposite becomes.
For example, the first player makes a positive statement such as “Fortunately, I won a million dollars.”
The next player has to contribute a negative or unfortunate statement such as “Unfortunately, someone robbed you and took all your money the next day.”
The following players continue with the same theme. The third player states, “Fortunately, the police chased down the robbers and caught them.”
And the game continues to the last player or until everyone agrees to end the game.
Players can choose before the game begins, as a variation, to say both the fortunate and unfortunate statement in one turn. For example, the first player states, “Unfortunately, I can’t make it to the party. Fortunately, I am going on vacation to Zimbabwe instead.”
The next player would then provide an “unfortunate – fortunate” reply such as, “Unfortunately, the lions will eat you. Fortunately, I will be there to save you.”
When the game ends, players will have created their own series of fortunate and unfortunate events.
#4 “Telephone Game”
The “Telephone Game” is a game that starts with the first person creating a secret message or phrase and then whispering into the ear of the player seated next to them. That player must then whisper the phrase or message, to the best of their ability, into the next player’s ear. The last player to receive the message announces what they heard to the group to see if it matches what the first player said!
There are just a few small rules to this game. Players should make sure that only the person they are whispering the secret message or phrase to can hear it. The second rule is that the person delivering the secret message or phrase only states it only once so players must pay close attention and listen. The final rule is that the person who creating the secret message or phrase must remember what they said. No lying! It may be helpful to have a piece of paper and something to write with for the starting player to write down their phrase before the game begins.
This game may seem pretty simple, but here are some suggestions that can help complicate the message or phrase a bit. The use of repetitive letters and sounds, also known as tongue twister or an alliteration, such as “a”, “s”, “t” or the letter “p” help to create a difficult phrase to hear and remember.
Some examples of some good, fun tongue twisters so you have an idea what makes a great phrase:
“Anxious ants avoid the anteater’s advances”
“Sally sings songs silently”
“Tony the Toad told Timmy he taught tennis”
“Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers”
“Snowflakes will slide softly soon”
“Manic Manny married weird Mary”
“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”
“I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream”
We can’t provide a list of secret messages, because then they wouldn’t be so secret. However, instead of tongue twisters, other types of phrases work well, also just avoid ones from a popular song, the Declaration of Independence (for the extra nerdy players) or a famous line from a movie since most people may remember those, easily.
#5 “Twenty Questions”
The game “Twenty Questions” is definitely a popular campfire game and most everyone has played this during a long road trip once or twice! In fact, some of our older friends and relatives may have played the radio version of this game once or twice in their youth. According to Wikipedia, in the 1940’s there was a well-known radio quiz show called “Twenty Questions” in which listeners sent in their subjects and the panelist had to figure out the answer in only twenty questions. In the late 1940’s, there was also a television game that shared the same name.
Perhaps, “Twenty Questions” is the most popular of all campfire games!
In this “oldie, but goodie” game, one person thinks of a subject and the rest of the players ask a series of “yes” or “no” questions, up to twenty questions, that will help them figure out the subject. The subject can be a person, place or thing, but the only player who knows what the answer is, is the “answerer”, of course!
The game beings by players voting on who will be the “answerer”.
The “answerer” is the person who will think of a subject which can be a person, place or thing and who will answer either “yes” or “no” when the other players ask their questions to guess the secret subject.
Once the “answerer” thinks of the subject, he or she is not to share it with anyone. The game begins with the person to the right of the “answerer” asking a question that will help them figure out what the subject is and the game continues until someone guesses the subject correctly or until twenty questions have been asked.
This isn’t just a guessing game! The players asking the questions should think of strategic questions so they can improve the odds of revealing the correct answer quickly.
Whoever has the correct answer, becomes the “answerer” for the next round.
#6 “Name That Tune”
What’s a campfire without some type of music? “Name That Tune” is just as it sounds….a tune is played and players have to guess the title of the song or piece of music (because surely, everyone will recognize “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor by Ludwig Beethoven). For those who love trivia; a variation of this campfire game was also a popular television game show that aired from 1974 – 81.
This game starts with a player either elected or who volunteers to be the “hummer”. The “hummer” hums a tune from any song (or piece of music) they choose. The other players have to guess what the title of the song (or music) is and whoever guesses correctly, is the “hummer” for the next round.
If everyone is stumped and can’t figure out the song, the “hummer” can provide a hint such as which genre or time period the song belongs or they can choose to hum or play a few more tunes.
Is there a talented guitar player among the players? Or perhaps another musician who happens to have brought their tuba, clarinet, flute or other instrument along to a campfire? Instead of humming the tune, the guitar player or other type of musician can play a few chords or notes of a song or piece of music.
This game is always a favorite and it’s even more fun when everyone starts singing together! Don’t be surprised if game players decide to start their own rock band after playing this game.
#7 “Zip Boing”
“Zip Boing” is definitely going to make people laugh. Just saying the word “zip” or “boing” aloud is silly enough to cause a little laughter, but the challenge is you are not allowed to show teeth during this game! Ever! Our faces are made to bare pearly teeth when we laugh and speak so this game certainly will take some effort to go against the odds!
The game begins with one player saying the word, “zip” and letting the other players know which direction they are passing the “zip”. The player who is next to the starting player, in the correct direction as instructed by the starting player (left or right) says “zip” and it continues around the circle of players until someone says “bang” which sends the “zip” back in the opposite direction.
The challenge is no one is allowed to show their teeth and you can’t say “zip” or “boing” unless it’s your turn. Anyone who shows their teeth or says “zip” or “boing” when it’s not their turn is out of the game. Covering or hiding your teeth is cheating and there is no cheating allowed in campfire games!
Here are the best seven campfire games that are sure to keep everyone entertained for hours!
If there isn’t a game listed that sounds interesting to your campfire gamers, perhaps make a few up while on the way to the campsite during the road trip! In fact, some of these games can even be played in the car, but of course, sitting around a campfire is much more fun, of course because you can’t roast marshmallows in the car.