One of the best parts of a camping trip is sitting around the campfire, making s’mores, and telling tall tales. The possibilities are endless with campfire tales, from funny and perfectly safe for the littlest campers to ones so scary you might want to save until those little ones go to bed and just tell to other adults (and keep the lantern burning!) You might able to recount some great campfire tales you’ve heard before, but in case you need some ideas, here are some resources you might want to check out. Whatever tales you decide to tell, just be sure not to scare your kids too much, when it comes to spooky stories and kids, it’s definitely possible to have too much of a good thing, the last thing you need on a camping trip is a kid too scared to sleep!
On the web
Americanfolklore.net has a great collection of stores grouped by audience age. For the youngest crowd, they’ve got “Children’s Stories.” For those youngsters ready for a bit of scare, they’ve got “Funny ghost stories.” “Spooky Campfire Stories” gets a little scarier, and “Scary Tales” are the scariest they’ve got. There’s also a page of campfire songs!
Ultimatecampresource.com also has a great list of campfire tales ranging from spooky to silly.
The Kids Campfire Book by Jane Drake. This book is a great resource for all things campfire-related. It has everything from tips on building a fire to cooking over it, but it also contains great campfire stories, songs and games. Definitely one every camping family should have on their shelf!
Short & Shivery by Robert D San Souci. This anthology of short scary stories is sure to thrill around the campfire! This book is geared toward the older elementary to middle school crowd and up.
The Story of Elmer in Yosemite by Richard Barna. This classic campfire tale is a must if you’re camping with your kids at Yosemite, but still a great read even if you’re camping somewhere else. The book recounts the tale of a child lost in Yosemite National Park and explains why you can still hear people calling for Elmer at night in the park’s campgrounds to this day.
Choose your own adventure
For those who like to make up their own stories, why not get the whole family involved? Making up campfire tales together is a great way to exercise everyone’s imagination while keeping the story appropriate for your family’s ages and tolerance levels. There are a couple of ways you could approach DIY-campfire stories.
You could tell stories mad-lib style where one person acts as the main storyteller and asks for input like names for the characters, where they are, what they’re doing and with what objects. This would be a great way to collaborate with different ages of kids, even little ones could give ideas, but it wouldn’t give older kids too much free reign to add scary parts that might be too advanced for the little ones.
Another way to go about it would be a round-robin. One person starts the story with something like “it was a dark and stormy night and a family was out camping.” And then go around the circle and have each person add a few words or a sentence or two. This is especially fun with older kids who have some experience with storytelling and great imaginations and can add funny or scary twists and turns to the storyline.
Campfires and storytelling go hand-in-hand and hopefully this list will help you find some stories to tell your family on your next camping trip.
What’s your favorite campfire tale?