Camping is a great pastime that has endured over the years despite other changing trends in technology, vacationing, and leisure pursuits.
Camping figures have remained steady in the US, with around 40m enjoying a night or two under the stars. Those numbers include all types of campers, from people in tents to those in camper vans, from people pitching up in Yosemite to those in their backyard. It’s all camping, and it’s a pastime we just love here in the US.
Much of the focus for camping accessories falls onto the practical; flashlights, sleeping bags, and the like. Camping is a very practical, hands-on pastime, and having the right equipment can make the experience much easier. However, once you’ve pitched up, got the food cooked on your stove and are sat around the campfire, then it is time to entertain yourself, old-school style. You might tell a few campfire stories, roast some marshmallows, and maybe play a few hands of cards.
Playing cards is a versatile way to pass time and a key weapon in any camper’s backpack. There’s always the moment at the end of the day where you need to find some non-electrical entertainment, and cards are an easy way to bring people together, young and old, chatting, laughing and competing. Perhaps next time you’re hunkering down for the evening, it will be after your camping party have chosen one of these perfect, easy to learn card games.
Cheat can be good for larger parties because you can throw two or even three packs of cards together if you wish. The whole pack is dealt amongst the players, and one person is chosen to go first. They put their card or cards face down and announce to the group what they are, i.e.‘ three kings’. The next player must put either queens, kings, or aces down, in any quantity. They don’t have to put down the cards they announced out loud, but if someone calls them a cheat and they’re found out, they pick up the whole deck. The idea is to get rid of all your cards by mixing a little cheating and deception with a little skill.
Poker can be great fun to play when camping because you can wager certain tasks, such as collecting wood for the campfire or using candy as a reward. No money has to change hands, so you get all the fun and none of the loss. All you need to play poker is a grasp of the basic poker hand rankings and a chosen variant. Texas Hold’em is one of the easiest poker variants to understand. You’re dealt two cards and place a blind bet. Three are then dropped into the middle, and you have to make your best hand with those. After another round of betting a fourth, and fifth is added. Can you bluff your way to the candy haul?
The objective of rummy is to make runs or sets of three or four cards, i.e. four sevens, or 2, 3, 4, 5 of hearts. The dealer hands everyone ten cards, puts the undealt cards face down in the middle and turns one up for everyone to see. The player has a choice; take the face up card or an unseen card face down. If they can make a hand, they place that on the deck and discard one card. Remember, you MUST discard a card at the end. The next player does the same, but they must take the whole heap if they pick up from the discarded pile. The winner is the first to have one card left in their hand to discard at the end of their go.
Games may not be the first thing you think of putting on your camping essentials list, but they can add a lot of fun to your trip. If you’re travelling light and are too short on space to carry bulkier entertainment, then consider bringing a deck of cards. There’s nothing more versatile and convenient, as this small, compact item holds many different game possibilities in one. It gives you playing options for all ages and whether you’re in a large group, on a romantic couple’s retreat, or camping solo.
The games on this list are some of the easiest and best card games to pick up for everyone to enjoy around the campfire, especially for bigger parties of people who may not all be already familiar with the rules. If it’s just you with your partner or a friend however, War is a solid choice for two players. And even for those camping alone, learning a few of the many variations of Solitaire can keep you entertained for a good while.
Do you like to play games on your camping expeditions? Do you have a favorite card game? Share your thoughts in a comment below!