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I visited the woods with my nieces a few weeks ago. They enjoyed the nature pretty much of course and were happily hiking until we decided to take a break. We (the adults) began to fall in this comatose state of drinking, eating and talking :D However, the break took a little too long for our youngsters and so they began to get bored.

Are there any games I could have given them which can be played with what the nature provides (common hiking equipment etc. is ok, too :) ), doesn't leave a trace (or at least not that much) and is safe for the kids (in terms of "lost on their own in the wild" etc. - negative example in some circumstances: hide and seek)?

  • If hide and seed were too dangerous for kids during a break while hiking, my parents would be very bad parents :P – imsodin Aug 1 '16 at 13:02
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    @imsodin Highly depends on age and the region :) I found hide and seek too dangerous since one of my niece is 2 years old (she was carried around half the tour) and the other 4. We were in woods with a lot of steep cliffs etc. Also think about getting lost and bears and stuff. I've added "in some circumstances" to hide and seek :) – OddDeer Aug 1 '16 at 13:09
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Things we have enjoyed in the past as a family. These are not all "games", but I think they will help address the larger part of boredom.

  • Teach the kiddos all the things are you doing and let them do them to the extent possible. You can seriously eat the whole day this way. Examples:
    • Teach them knife handling/wood carving (see related question).
    • Let them help with maing fire, preparing food, cooking.
  • Take along a field guide for identifying trees, plants, bug, etc.. Have a game out of whomever can identify the most plants.
  • A deck of cards. Make sure you know several games to teach them. My favorite was the deck of cards that also had how to tie knots.
  • Marbles is actually a decent game when you have nothing else, and it is fairly light. Same with jacks.
  • Hike more (no, really)
  • We had our youngest spot blazes. +1 marshmallow at dinner for every blaze spotted, -2 for every one missed. Adjust numbers as appropriate for your kids.
  • Frisbees are light and easy to carry/pack.

This should seriously be a community wiki. Making it so.

  • Argh -- I just saw your "with what nature provides". That is much more problematic though I have limited this to stuff that isn't too annoying for a backpacker to carry. – Russell Steen Aug 2 '16 at 2:50
  • Also, this is a community wiki because it is very clearly a "list of things" question" – Russell Steen Aug 2 '16 at 2:53
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Some things I would do:

  • teach 1 type of medicinal herb, something easily detectable (peppermint, for example), and then let them collect some amount (50, for example); set some boundary so they would not wander away too far. When at home, dry the leaves and make a tea from what they've picked
  • make them pick colorful objects, plants, leaves, flowers; press them down in a book at home, and then use them to create some colorful handmade things (cards, for example, which they can give as a gift to grandma or someone who appreciates such things :) ). Pros: creative, nice. Cons: extra work for you, stuff to carry home, making extra mess etc.
  • make them a swing from a branch and a stronger rope you brought from home

These can be done with what nature provides, but might not be so much up to the Leave No Trace policy.

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