Canoeing, Camping & Kids – Kids BWCA Activities While Paddling

Canoeing, Camping & Kids – Kids BWCA Activities While Paddling
Activities For Kids While Paddling and Camping

For most adults, from the novice to the old-timer, we can spend hours paddling and relish in the quiet and peacefulness of the great outdoors.  We’ll stay lost in our own thoughts and don’t need anything but nature to keep us happy.  This extends to camping, too.  We enjoy our time sitting and enjoying nature, fishing, or reading a good book.

But as parents the world over will testify, this does NOT always apply to children.

bwca kids activities
Children Need Activities

Kids need activities to keep them occupied in a canoe when paddling the Boundary Waters. They’ll need and appreciate more than paddling or just riding along and enjoying the nature around them.  And you’ll need and appreciate activities that aren’t too active if you want to keep your canoe afloat.

Of course, which activities you engage your little ones in will vary greatly depending on their ages. For very young kids, bring a simple toy from home or some books to look at. Buoyant, of course, and waterproof. Most young children love games they can play with mom or dad such as “I Spy.” Much to the delight of children and the weariness of adults, this game can go on for hours. Keep it easy and you’ll have them occupied long enough to get to the next portage where they can run around for a bit.

When you get to the next stretch of water another game we passed the time with was “Categories.” In this game, you come up with a category like “Northwoods Animals” and take turns filling in the category. Other popular categories are princesses, superheroes, Disney characters, and food.

More BWCA Kids Activities – For the Older Ones

Older kids can use their brains a bit more, usually. Here’s a few celebrity-themed games our kids liked to play:

“Famous People” – Think of a real or fictional person and the others in the canoe must figure it out by asking yes or no questions.

“Famous Names” – Player one says the name of a celebrity. Player two must name a celebrity whose first name start with the first letter of the last name of player one’s celebrity. You can’t repeat any names. The rules are a mouthful, but our kids would play this game for hours and hours……and hours.

“Degrees” – This game is like the ever-popular “Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon,” where you try to connect actors to Kevin Bacon through the movies they’ve been in together. Only difference is you can use any two actors instead of Kevin Bacon. Coming up with the shortest connection is the challenge.

For a change of pace, singing songs are fun kids BWCA activities for people of all ages. You can bring along a book of popular paddling or camping songs. Maybe learn a few on the drive to Minnesota so you’ll already know the words. It’s also fun to let kids help compose a song. You can make it a family song and use a familiar song to a tv show. We used to like Flintstones or Gilligan’s Island, but most kids probably don’t know those anymore. Still, you get the idea.

Bring some binoculars or even a monocular for your kids. It’s so fun to see what they can find. Eagles, beaver lodges, moose, other campers, or see if they can spot the next portage. This is a great way for them to find some real beauty in the outdoors.

Fishing rods can keep children busy, but only if there is as much catching as there is fishing.

A deck of cards offers hours of fun for campers of all ages.

Scavenger hunts are a great idea around camp.  You can divide into groups or teams and give them a list of items to locate either by sight, sound or touch.  Or simply give them a challenge to see who can find a rock that most resembles a heart or who can find the biggest leaf.


bwca camp marshmellow

Campsites are a good place to teach about nature.  You can teach, for instance, the difference between pine, fir and spruce trees.  Then learn the difference between the different types of pine trees at the campsite.  You can teach them the difference between squirrels and chipmunks.  What about how to identify bald eagles, osprey, hawks and turkey vultures?  In the Northwoods there are so many different sounds! Take time to identify the different sounds you hear.  It might be good to identify these sounds before you’re in a dark tent when all sounds seem louder.

Paddling and Camping offer a whole world of opportunities to spend time talking and getting to engage with your children.   Always have a kids BWCA activities at the ready.  Keep electronics to a minimum and enjoy nature together.


For more information on BWCA Family Canoe Trips, click here, or call us at 218-365-5837

classic bwca canoe trip