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5 Tried and True Kid-Friendly Trail Activities

trail activities

Keystone Science School works with campers and students of all ages. Whether it’s with our summer camp or school-based outdoor education programs, we are always hiking with children. Hiking outside is an amazing opportunity to explore the outdoors and push physical boundaries. We have found that sometimes our campers and students need their minds diverted from hiking and the physical challenge. That’s when we may facilitate a small game or activity to help distract from the physical challenge. Here’s a short list of some of our favorite trail games. These games all require little to no materials and can help young hikers make it to whatever destination is on the adventure agenda of the day.

  • Wanda - Next time you’re hiking, grab a clothespin/binder clip/carabiner to play Wandering Wanda! We’ll call that clothespin, “Wanda.” One person stealthily passes Wanda off to someone else without them noticing. Wanda must be clipped to an article of clothing. Once Wanda is found, repeat & see who can be the sneakiest when passing Wanda around!
  • Camouflage - One person, “the caller” stands still, and closes their eyes for 30 seconds while everyone else hides where they can still see “the caller.” At the end of 30 seconds, “the caller” names people they find without moving. Repeat for 20 seconds and 10 seconds making individual rounds. Within each round, the hiding people are to get closer and closer to “the caller,” without being found. The goal is to tag or get as close as possible to “the caller” by the last round.
  • Nature Art - Creating art outside with kids helps them connect with their natural surroundings in a unique way. Next time you go outside, bring paper & drawing utensils. Find a spot to sit comfortably, & draw anything you hear or see. If you forget paper & pencils, make a sculpture with things you find on the ground.
  • Look for Bugs in a Stream - Ever wondered what bugs live in local streams? Take a trip & see what you find! Many aquatic insects live attached to rocks on stream beds. Grab some rocks from the stream, flip them over, and use a magnifying glass to observe the insects you find. Can you identify the insects you find?
  • Meet a Tree - Start by blocking someone’s vision with a blindfold or ask them to close their eyes. Safely guide them to a tree. Using observation skills, examine the tree with no sense of vision. Does the tree smell, how does it feel, can you feel branches, leaves, or needles? Safely guide them away from the tree and have them open their eyes. Try & find the same tree with restored vision.