We often head into our camping getaways looking forward to slow, relaxed weekends. As we pack the RV, we know we are one step closer to the crackle of a campfire and some quality time with our little ones. And while some of our destinations are the peaceful adventures we imagined, others have a bit of a different feel.

Many of our kids' favorite campgrounds are those with busy pools, arcades, and a full slate of activities on any given weekend. And while these can be fun, it is also nice to be able to take a break from all of the hustle and bustle in favor of some quiet family togetherness. The following are a few of our favorite ways to slow down at even the busiest of campgrounds.

Star Light, Star Bright

You know that feeling when you escape the lights of the city, when the sun sets and the sky fills with stars you can actually see? It is at this time of day that we love to take family walks around the campground and point out stars, planets, and constellations to our kids. The problem for us was that we were a bit rusty on our high-school astronomy and were often taking guesses about which specific heavenly body was sparkling above.

This is why we were thrilled to discover Sky Guide, an app for your smart phone that uses your compass and camera to tell you exactly what you're looking at. Whether it's a star or Jupiter, there is no more guessing and we, along with our kids, are getting more closely acquainted with the night sky.

Sky Guide on phone screen

Knock, knock. Who's there?

For mom and dad, sitting around a crackling campfire for hours is pretty easy. But for our kids -- ages four and six -- once the s'mores are done, they're often ready to move onto the next thing. On a recent trip, we were sitting around a campfire and could feel the littles starting to get a little squirrely. Not ready to call it a night, we had a crazy idea. We pulled out our phone (we had wifi at this particular location) and did a quick search for kid-friendly jokes and riddles. Before we knew it, over an hour had passed, filled with non-stop laughter and silliness.

For those who lack the imagination for campfire ghost stories (or just don't want to scare the kids right before bed) campfire riddles are a lot of fun. And in those instances when internet access is non-existent, we recommend investing in a couple of joke books. Trust us, hilarity will ensue.

David and child sitting next to campfire reading joke book

Batteries Not Included

Campgrounds can be full of battery-operated gadgets. Drones and RC cars seem to be everywhere, and there's nothing wrong with that. But, sometimes foregoing the technology can mean big fun. Harness a light breeze and fly a kite. Jump into adventure with Stomp Rockets. Slow down and focus with some family puzzle time, or channel your creativity with a Lego session. These are a few of the activities that keep our kids happy and our family connected.

David sitting with child at picnic table playing with Legos

Did someone say S'mores?

We love s'mores. Who doesn't, right? The chocolate, the graham crackers, and the ooey-gooey marshmallow. It's almost the perfect food, but sometimes it can be fun to try and improve upon perfection.

When we're out, we like to create a s'more bar with several surprising additions to create that perfect bite. Try swapping graham crackers for Oreos. Add fresh berries or bananas. Or, our personal favorite, sprinkle in some crispy bacon. The possibilities are endless and the results are delicious.

Karen and both children sitting next to campfire at night

Put the needle on the record

Our family loves music. In fact, on many of our trips, we have brought along our portable record player because few things compliment the sound of a crackling record better than a crackling fire. And for those days when the weather has handed us some unexpected showers, we have taken the fun inside with an indoor record party.

Letting the kids pick the tunes and practice their best dance moves can be a great way to keep the cabin fever at bay. For the quieter moments, we also enjoy playing some of our favorite Walt Disney classics on vinyl. We have been lucky enough to stumble upon a few of these throughout our travels and love to listen with the kiddos and imagine the scenes playing out.

Note: if you are in the market for a portable record player, they are pretty easy to find these days at many local or online retailers.

Record player playing a yellow record

Campgrounds come in all shapes and sizes. For a family with young kids, the activity-packed locations can be a godsend. However, as with most things in life, balance is crucial. We have found that sprinkling in a few of these quieter activities among the organized arts & crafts or scavenger hunts make for weekends filled with fun for the kids, as well as the relaxation and quality time us parents hope for. We hope you enjoy!

What are your favorite family campsite activities? Let us know in the comments.


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