You can have fun camping in the rain with kids! We live in Seattle and camp all year round, so this is a realistic list of what to do with the kids when it rains while camping.
There are affiliate links in this article which means, at no additional cost to you, we could receive compensation for our recommendations. You can read our full disclosure policy.
Camping in the Rain with Kids
Let’s face it: when you’re camping in the summer and it rains, everyone’s mood changes. But it doesn’t have to stink! We live in Seattle, so we deal with a LOT of rain. Even on a camping trip in the middle of July, we could have 2 weeks of straight rain.
But that doesn’t stop us and it shouldn’t stop you. The more you plan ahead, the less the rain will impact your camping trip.
We’ve shared a lot of camping tips here on Ruffles and Rain Boots. Take a look:
- Safety Tips for Camping with Kids
- Camping Hacks – A GENIUS Hack for Organization
- Camping Games to Play Around the Campfire
1 – Get Wet and Treasure Hunt
Put on your rain boots (or favorite waterproof sandals), grab a poncho, and go get muddy! Camping is all about exploring and being a part of nature.
The muddier you can get, the better! Just make certain to pack some extra shoes and clothes and you’ll be all set to have fun stomping and splashing in those puddles! Besides, there are some fun things that come out when it’s raining. Look for:
- bugs, earthworms, and creepy crawlies brought to the surface
- natural waterfalls (leaves, slopes, etc.)
- berries – be sure to take a guidebook for the area to know which ones are safe to eat
2 – Journal or Make Rubbings
When I was 12 and on vacation in upstate New York, we met a lady at a historical site in the median of a busy highway. She explained that on every vacation she took, she made rubbings of historical sites in the area: gravestones, trees, even the marker. This keepsake idea has stayed with me.
Give the kids a blank piece of paper, crayons, and some dry(ish) leaves or branches, and let them make their own rubbings. Older kids can journal or write a story to share with the group at the fire.
3 – Build a Den or Shelter from Nature
This is something we do on every camping trip – every single one. You can opt to allow your kids to use a hatchet or do it yourself, but this is always one of the most talked about parts of every camping trip!
Sometimes they’re simple (like the one below), and others we’ll put a great deal of effort into. It’s a great learning experience for everyone and one of the most fun you’ll have camping in the rain with kids.
4 – Read-A-Thon
Snuggle up and have a read-a-thon. Is there anything better than being snuggled up nice and warm and listening to the rain pelting against the roof? It’s soothing to hear that calming noise knowing you’re able to stay dry.
Set up a good light and read a story as a group. Camp lighting choices are plentiful and we’ve tried many. Our current favorites are these collapsible lanterns. They’re also perfect for night walks with kids.
If you have a camp stove, make hot cocoa for the kids. Note: do not operate a camp stove inside a tent. See our tips below for a dry cook area.
5 – Games
We’re big campers and camping with kids can be stressful without the right preparation. Check out this big list of camping games to play with kids – some you’ll bring with you, some you make up right there. Find the one that works best for your family.
Most are tiny so they work well for tent campers or those in an RV.
6 – Break Out the Screen
I know, I know – no screens on a camping trip is our rule. But we’ve been on camping trips where it rained the entire time. After you’ve done all the excursions, crafts, hikes, and anything else you can think of, sometimes getting out the screen is just what’s needed.
Make it a movie and popcorn night! Have everyone huddle up in the biggest, comfiest tent and enjoy each other and your favorite movie.
Tips for Staying Dry
Living and camping in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve learned a thing (or three) about camping in the rain with kids. Here’s a list of quick tips:
- hang a ridge line and tarp over your tent (don’t allow it to touch the tent). A rain fly is generally awful and this is the only way we stay 100% dry.
- bring a couple of tarps, lines, and carabiners to create an outdoor dry space. We build a ridge line with the largest tarp we have and stake it down like a tent. Try to find a place slightly sloped to ensure it stays dry.
- if the weather calls for a lot of rain, be sure to pitch a dry spot over your cooking set up.
- To make a fire after it rains, clear away the wet base (dirt, detritus, etc.) and the wood from the bottom of your gathered pile. Or learn to build an upside down fire.
- If you didn’t bring rain boots:
- change your wet socks to dry ones as soon as possible (see our genius camping hacks)
- remove the lining from your shoes and stuff shoes with newspaper or clothes to help absorb the water; use towels or dirty clothes to ring out the insoles