Kid Friendly Card Games to Play while Camping

Playing card games while camping? What?? Why???

child and adult playing cards in rv while dog looks on

You’ve finally reached your destination, your campsite is set up, and it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some fresh air. But it’s raining. Or your kid can’t find anyone to play with. So you hear those dreaded words from your child “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do…and no one to play with!”

We love being a one kid family but sometimes our child doesn’t quite see the joy. He wants someone to play with and doesn’t have that built in sibling playmate. And if the dog needs a break, and he isn’t interested in entertaining himself right at this moment, we need a diversion. Time to pull out the deck of cards and start some fun!

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We don’t like to bring along complex games to the campsite. What if we lose pieces? The board might get damaged. This mama’s brain might forget how to play (and doesn’t really want to read instructions while relaxing). But a deck of cards is a different story. They don’t take up a lot of space. There are multiple games to play. And many of these can be played with just two or three people, perfect for our small family.

Our Favorite Kid Friendly Card Games:

In alphabetical order here are nine of our favorite kid friendly card games to play while camping.

Concentration

This game, also known as Memory, is an easy game typically played with two persons. If you wish to add more players, I suggest additional decks of cards.

GOAL: Find the most pairs
TYPE: Patience
PLAYERS: 2
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Then, place all the cards, face down, in a grid pattern. If you are using a deck with jokers, we recommend six rows of nine cards. If you are using a deck without jokers, we recommend four rows of thirteen cards.
INSTRUCTIONS: Taking turns, each player flips over any two cards. If they match color and rank, they are a match, the player sets them aside, and takes another turn. If they do not match, the player returns them to the game face down and the next player takes a turn.
SCORING: The player who finds the most matches once all the pairs have been found is the winner.

Crazy Eights

I didn’t play this one growing up but did play a lot of Uno. When we started playing this one as a family it made me think of Uno played with a standard deck. What do you think? Am I crazy?

GOAL: Get rid of all your cards
TYPE: Shedding
PLAYERS: 2 to 4
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Next, deal five cards to each player (seven if only two players), face down. Place the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table for stock. Turn the top card of the stockpile up and start a new pile. If that card is an eight, bury it in the middle of the pack and turn up the next card.
INSTRUCTIONS: Starting to the dealer’s left, each person places one card face up on the starter pile, matching the existing card either in rank or suit. (For example, if the visible card is the three of hearts, either a three or a hearts card must be played.) If the person is unable to play from their hand, they must draw cards from the stockpile until a play is possible or the stockpile runs out. If they are still unable to play, they must pass.
Sometimes a player will choose to draw from the stockpile, even if they have a playable card in their hand. This is allowed.
All eights are wild. An eight may be played at any time during your turn and the player need only to select what suit it represents. The next player must play either a card from that suit or an eight of their own, selecting a new suit.
SCORING: The player who gets rid of all cards first wins the game. If the round ends prior to a player getting rid of all their cards, use scoring to decide who wins the game. Whomever has the lowest number of points wins the game. Cards are valued as follows:
Eights = 50 points
Each Jack, Queen, & King card = 10 points
Aces = 1 point
Number cards = face value

Garbage

We were introduced to this game, which is also known by the name of Trash, by our son’s babysitter and it quickly became a family favorite. In fact, if we were to recommend our favorite from the kid friendly card games, it would probably be this one.

GOAL: Be the first to win ten hands.
Type: Capturing
Players: 2
The Deal: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Then, deal ten cards to each player face down in two rows of five cards each. Place the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table for stock.
Instructions: Player one takes the first card from the stockpile. If the card is an Ace through Ten, the player swaps it out for the face down card in the correct location of the layout. That card is, in turn, placed in its appropriate location if available.
In this game Jacks are wild which means a Jack can be used for any location. If the correct pip card appears for that location, it can be placed there allowing the Jack to be moved to a new location. This continues until the player has no more moves to make or finds a Queen or King. They create a discard pile with this card, and it is player two’s turn.
Player two may start their turn with either the discarded card or by taking one from the stockpile. They continue playing the same way until their turn ends. Play goes back to player one. If the stockpile runs out prior to the end of the round, the top card is saved, and the rest are shuffled to make a new stockpile.
Play continues until the first one completes their layout of ten cards, Ace through Five in the top row, Six through Ten in the bottom row. That finishes round one and they are the winner of this hand.
The cards are then shuffled, and new layouts are put down. The winner has one fewer card for their layout (locations Ace through Nine) while the other player still must find Ace through Ten. The winner of each hand plays first in the next hand. Play continues with one card being removed from your layout for each round you win. The game continues until a player has only one location and wins the hand by filling it with an Ace or Jack. This player wins the whole game. It sounds much more complicated than it really is.
SCORING: Not relevant

Go Fish

Typically, you find this game with cute cards in the kids’ toy section of many stores. However, it can easily be played with a standard deck of cards. We prefer that as we only need to bring one deck that way.

GOAL: Capture the most books (sets of four of a kind) while getting rid of all your cards
TYPE: Shedding
PLAYERS: 2 to 5
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly and deal five cards to each player (seven if only two or three players), face down. Then, place the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table for stock.
INSTRUCTIONS: Player one (the fisherman) looks at any opponent and requests a specific rank of card. S/he must have at least one card of the rank prior to requesting. The player who has been addressed must hand over all cards of that rank in their hand. If they have none, they reply “go fish!” and the fisherman draws the top card off the stockpile. If the player gets at least one card (catches a fish) of the rank they requested, their play continues, and they may ask another person for the same rank or the same person for a different rank. Once they no longer catch any fish/receive any cards, their turn is over, and play moves to the left.
If a player completes a book during their turn, they lay the stack of cards face up in front of them for all to see.
If a player sheds all of their cards before the game is completed, they may draw from the stockpile and go fishing for that book. However, if there are no more cards in the stockpile, they are out of the game.
SCORING: The winner is the player with the most books at the end of the game which is when all thirteen books have been captured.

Kings in the Corner

I have always enjoyed playing various iterations of Solitaire and finding this game meant I could play it with my child. It is less confusing, to us, than Double Solitaire so we find it fun to play.

GOAL: Get rid of all your cards
TYPE: Shedding
PLAYERS: 2 to 4
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly and deal seven cards to each player. Then, place the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table for stock. Turn the top four cards over placing them around the stockpile as if they were the four points on the compass: the north, south, east, and west. These will be your foundation piles.
INSTRUCTIONS: Player one starts the game by drawing the top card from the stockpile. If possible, they will place it on one of the foundation piles. To be eligible, it must be the opposite color and the next lower card in rank. They can make as many valid plays as possible during their turn to get rid of as many cards as they can from their hand. Once they run out of moves, the player to their left starts their play by drawing a card from the stockpile and continuing the game.
When a King appears, it is placed in one of the corners created by the shape of the existing piles, hence the name of the game. Once a King is placed, players may use them as foundation piles as well. Additionally, any player, during their time, can migrate a foundation pile onto another pile if it will create a valid sequence. They may then start a new foundation pile in the vacated space. The game ends when a player has shed all of their hand.
SCORING: Not relevant.

Slapjack

Fast paced and lots of fun, this rowdy game gets all of us riled up. In other words, we don’t advise playing this one right before bedtime. This is probably our kid’s favorite of the kid friendly card games listed here.

GOAL: Capture *all* the cards
TYPE: Capturing
PLAYERS: 2 to 10
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Then, deal out all cards to the players. Hands do not need to be even. Without looking at the cards, each player needs to stack them in front of them face down.
INSTRUCTIONS: Player one lifts their top card and places it face up in the center of the table. Moving to the left, each subsequent player lifts their top card and places it face up on top of the previous card. Play continues in a circular fashion until a Jack appears and the fun begins. The first player to slap that Jack wins the entire stack of cards. They shuffle them into their existing hand and play begins again.
If more than one player slaps that Jack, the first hand down wins the pile. Any player who slaps a card which is *not* a Jack must give their next card, face down, to the player of the previous card who adds it to the bottom of their stack.
If a player has no cards left, they remain in the game until the next Jack is turned. They will remain in the game if they win that pile. If they don’t win that pile, they are now out of the game.
SCORING: Not relevant

Snip Snap Snorem

This one has vibes of Uno as well in that players must say certain words during play or forfeit a turn. And what kid wouldn’t enjoy saying a word like snorem?

GOAL: Get rid of all your cards
TYPE: Shedding
PLAYERS: 3 to 8
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Then, deal out all cards to the players. Hands do not need to be even. Without looking at the cards, each player needs to stack them in front of them face down.
INSTRUCTIONS: Player one places any card from their hand face up on the table. Moving to the left, each player must play a card of the same rank if possible. If they can’t, play passes to the next player on the left.
The player who places the second card of the same rank says “snip.” The following player who sets down the third card says “snap” and the last player setting down the fourth card says “snorem.” If a player does not say the correct word at the correct time misses their next turn. When the book is complete, it is set off to the side. The player who finishes the book gets to start the new series.
The winner is the one who gets rid of all their cards first.
SCORING: Not relevant

Spoons

I first played this game as a kid with my cousins. We would play for hours and hours. The faster the play is the more entertaining the game! You will need one fewer spoon than you have players.

GOAL: To be the last player in the game
TYPE: Other
PLAYERS: 3 or more
THE DEAL: Place your spoons in a small circle in the center of your playing area within reach of all players. Shuffle the deck thoroughly and deal four cards to each player. Then, place the remainder of the deck face down in the center of the table for stock.
INSTRUCTIONS: Player one takes the top card of the stockpile, examines it, and discards one card to the player on their left. They are trying to make a book (four of a kind). That player examines the card they received and discards one card to the player on their left. The last player in the circle examines the card they received and discards one card into a trash pile.
Play continues in this way until someone gets four of a kind and (quietly) takes a spoon from the center. Once one spoon has been removed any player can take a spoon. The player who does not get a spoon loses that round.
If the stockpile is used up, pause play to reshuffle the trash pile and create a new stockpile.
SCORING: Each time a player loses a round they receive a letter: S-P-O-O-N. Once a player has lost five rounds, they are out of the game.

War

This one is similar to Slapjack but is not as rowdy. However, as it can go on for a long time, it might not be the best choice for a bedtime game either.

GOAL: Capture *all* the cards
TYPE: Capturing
PLAYERS: 2
THE DEAL: Shuffle the deck thoroughly. Next, deal 26 cards to each player, face down.
INSTRUCTIONS: Both players turn over their top card at the same time and the player with the higher card takes both cards. Aces are high and suits don’t matter. These are placed, face down, on the bottom of their stack.
If the cards are the same rank, it is time for War. Each player places the next three cards, face down, next to the tied cards. Play continues and the player with the higher card takes both piles (ten cards total).
If a second tie occurs, an additional three cards per player are placed face down and play will continue until one player has a higher card. That winner will take all the cards in both piles. Play continues until all cards are captured.
SCORING: Not relevant.

Solitaire

A bonus to our list of kid friendly card games would be Solitaire and its variations. In fact, there are plenty of nights I wind down by playing a round or five of Solitaire while the boys are doing their own thing. And yes, I could play on my phone, but I love the feeling of the cards in my hand.

FAQ about Cards and Card Games:

Q. What are these types of games? Capturing, Shedding, Patience?

A. Capturing means to collect as many cards (or points) as possible. Alternately it means to find and keep the specific cards necessary to win or score points. The goal of a shedding game is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible. Patience games require the players to arrange cards in a special pattern on the table and then to move the cards from section to section, based on the rules of the game.

There are also games that are categorized as Rummy types and Trick-taking types. We don’t include any of these in our favorite kid friendly card games list.

Q. What is a rank? A suit?

A. Rank is the number or face of the card (Ace through King). There are four Suits: clubs and spades (black) and diamonds and hearts (red).

Q. What is a set? A book? A run?

A.  A set, or book, is all four cards of the same rank. A run is a series of cards in a sequential order of the same suit.

Q. What number(s) do the Face cards equal?

A. If the Face cards need a numerical equivalent, typically Jacks are worth 11, Queens are worth 12, and Kings are worth 13. As a reminder, Ace might be high (14) or low (1). If it is high the cards would go 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace. If it is low the cards would go Ace-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-20-Jack-Queen-King. In some games the Ace can be either depending on the player’s needs.

Playing games is a great way to connect with each other and relax while enjoying the outdoors (unless it is raining and then we play indoors).

This is one of the reasons we always bring along a deck of cards and some dice. If we end up bored with any of the above games, we always have The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games to remind us of other kid friendly card games.

For other games we like to play while camping, check out our favorite (and sometimes educational) dice games using standard D-6 dice. As the kid gets older, we might try some of these with more complicated dice.

If you have other kid friendly card games to suggest, please tag us on Instagram @campinganswer and tell us about them. We are always looking for new games to play.

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