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Articles27 Free or Low Cost Activities for Your Campground or RV Park

27 Free or Low Cost Activities for Your Campground or RV Park

May 10, 2024

At the heart of a memorable camping trip lies the joy of engaging in the activities and amenities provided by the campground. There is more demand than ever before from campers and RVers for a robust recreational schedule that appeals to all ages. We know that this demand puts on a strain on both your campground resources and your budget.

This guide is crafted to help you harness the natural beauty of your surroundings and the resources in your community to create unforgettable and meaningful experiences for your guests. We’ll explore how to keep your activities budget-friendly by leveraging local resources, embracing technology, and utilizing your existing amenities. From outdoor adventures inspired by the surrounding nature to the simple pleasure of a shared meal, we’ll dive into a wide range of activities that can cater to all ages and interests. Whether it's collaborating with local scouting organizations and schools or hosting inclusive classes that bring together local residents, seasonal campers, and transient guests, this guide is your roadmap to creating a vibrant, engaging, and cost-effective activity schedule. 

1. Use Nature as an Inspiration

Many of your guests are looking to connect with nature when they head out on a camping trip, but they may need a little hand-holding to enjoy the natural beauty of the campground surroundings. Organize nature walks or scavenger hunts where guests can explore and learn about local flora and fauna. Set up bird watching stations with information about the species in the area, or host a photography contest focusing on nature and using hashtags on Instagram. You can even create simple nature crafts sessions using materials found around the campground, like leaf painting or twig weaving. These activities not only highlight the unique aspects of your location but also help campers get that nature fix they are craving.

2. Embrace Technology 

Incorporate modern technology into your activity offerings to attract your younger audience and help parents feel less guilty about screen time at the campground. Geocaching, a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices, is a fantastic way to get guests exploring your campground. You can create and maintain several geocaches within your property. Similarly, capitalize on the popularity of augmented reality games like Pokémon Go by setting up a Pokémon Gym or PokéStops if your location permits. These tech-based activities offer a unique blend of physical and digital exploration, appealing to both young campers and the young at heart.

3. Tap into Your Local Business Network

Form partnerships with local businesses to provide diverse activities for your campers. Local artisans could offer workshops or craft demonstrations. For example, if you have a local pottery painting studio, they might welcome the opportunity to host a session once a week in your campground recreation space. They can make money, and you can provide your guests with an on-site activity–win/win. Also think about partnering with nearby adventure sports providers for special rates on activities like kayaking or rock climbing. Restaurants or food trucks might host tasting sessions or cooking demos. Not only do these collaborations enrich your activity calendar, but they also support local businesses and introduce your guests to the local culture and community.

4. Understand Food is an Activity, Especially for Campers and RVers

Food brings people together and can be a central part of the camping experience. Organize potluck dinners where guests can share their favorite camping recipes. Host a campfire cooking class, teaching guests how to make classic camping dishes. Set up a weekly farmers’ market with local produce that guests can use to cook their meals. These food-centric activities not only create a communal atmosphere but also highlight local and regional food specialties.

5. Work with Your Local Scouting Organizations and Schools

Collaborating with local scouting organizations and schools can lead to mutually beneficial activities. Scouts are often looking to fulfill volunteer hours or earn badges, and can assist in organizing environmental education programs or camping skills workshops. Local higher education schools may have students that are looking for internships in educational or nature programming. Such partnerships not only provide structured activities for your guests but also foster community relationships and give local youth groups meaningful, real-world experiences.

6. Focus on Maximizing the Use of Your Existing Amenities 

Maximize the potential of what you already have on your campground property. If you have a lake or pond, organize regular fishing tournaments or beginner fishing lessons. It may surprise you how many more guests enjoy the water if you provide some sort of formal or scheduled activity. Utilize open fields for sports days, kite flying events, or star-gazing nights. Turn tennis or basketball courts into venues for tournaments or casual pick up sessions. If campers know that there are pick up games on the tennis courts at 2 pm, they are more likely to amble over with a racket. 

7. Host Classes that Combine Local Residents, Seasonal Campers, and Transient Guests

It may be difficult to justify a Saturday morning yoga class if you are only drawing from a pool of transient campers. But if you offer a local fitness instructor the opportunity to host their classes on your property, they can bring in local residents and you can provide the class to your campers as well. These classes not only enrich your guests' stay but also strengthen the bond between the campground and the local community.

Here's a list of 27 free or low-cost activities–inspired by our 7 tips–that campground and RV Park owners can put on the recreation calendar without busting the budget.

  1. Nature Walks: Create self-guided nature walks in the areas around your campground highlighting local flora and fauna.

  2. Scavenger Hunt: Develop a campground scavenger hunt. Give out a printed copy to each guest upon check in. Offer a campground sticker as a reward for completing the scavenger hunt.

  3. Star Gazing Nights: If you are in a dark sky region, arrange stargazing events perhaps with a local astronomy club. Or encourage people to use an astronomy app and learn about the night sky together.

  4. DIY Craft Stations: Create DIY craft stations, using natural materials such as leaves, rocks, and sticks. You can find 25 great examples on this site. Or search Pinterest for thousands of affordable, simple ideas. 

  5. Outdoor Movie Nights: If you are part of your state or national association, your dues may cover licensing for public movie showings. Keep your camp store open to sell drinks and snacks to make this a revenue driver. 

  6. Community Meals: If you have seasonal or long term stay guests, potluck dinners or BBQ nights are a great option for affordable social gatherings.

  7. Fishing Derbies: Host catch-and-release fishing contests if you have a stocked lake or pond on property.

  8. Self-Guided Bird Watching: Create a list of birds commonly in your area and challenge your guests to spot them all. Keep a few binoculars in your camp store for guests to check out. 

  9. Photography Contests: Organize a photography contest themed around the campground. Advertise a hashtag to use in the store, or request that they tag the campground social media account, and award small weekly prizes like campground stickers or koozies. 

  10. Yoga Sessions: Offer morning yoga sessions in a scenic campground location or recreation room.

  11. Geocaching: Set up a geocaching adventure within the campground. Advertise with a QR code where guests check in. 

  12. Gardening Workshops: Teach basic gardening or plant identification. Take care of your campground potted plants, beds, and other decorative landscaping and offer your plant-loving guests an opportunity to learn at the same time.

  13. Cooking Demonstrations: Share campfire cooking tips and recipes. Many campers don’t know how to use a Dutch Oven. Teach them!

  14. Book Exchange: Set up a book exchange for campers. Tiny libraries are wildly popular these days–the cuter the library the better. 

  15. Local Artist Showcase: Invite local artists for small exhibitions or workshops.

  16. Survival Skills Workshop: Teach basic outdoor survival skills.

  17. Campsite Decorating Contest: Hold a contest for the best-decorated campsite. This doesn’t have to be only holiday centered. Try TV or movie themes and see what your guests come up with. 

  18. Board Game Nights: You know that stack of games in your rec room? Take them out, dust them off, and organize board game tournaments or casual play nights.

  19. Hiking Challenges: Create a challenge with rewards for completing certain local trails.

  20. Outdoor Fitness Challenges: Set up simple outdoor fitness challenges in a circuit around the campground. 

  21. Music Jam Sessions: Encourage campers to bring instruments for evening jams around your communal camp fire. Everyone loves a campground sing-a-long!

  22. Kayak, Canoe, or Stand Up Paddle Board Races: Host races if you're near a pond or lake. 

  23. Seed Planting Activity: Using seeds from your campground, show campers how to plant them. Write up instructions for replanting at their home. 

  24. Wildflower Identification Scavenger Hunt: Create a guided walk focusing on wildflower identification.

  25. DIY Natural Insect Repellent Workshop: Teach how to make natural insect repellents.

  26. Campground Community Art Project: Start a continuous art project that all campers can add to. 

  27. Create a throwback activity corner: Stock a corner of your recreation space or lobby with throwback activities such as loom kits, Etch A Sketches, puzzles, Lite Brites, and other fun toys from the pre-smartphone era. 

It is possible to pack your recreation calendar full of engaging and fun activities without breaking the break. Many of these ideas require a bit of sweat equity up front–or a bit of networking with fellow local business owners. But with some investment of time and energy, you’ll reap the rewards of happy and busy campers for years to come.

Did we miss any great free or low-cost activities that you use to entertain your guests? Let us know–we would love to add the idea to our list!

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