Nothing beats fresh air, a crackling campfire, a cozy tent and chairs with cup holders. Camping is an exciting adventure, but sometimes, the quiet wilderness and lack of Wi-Fi can be a little… unstimulating. If you want to play a game, learn something new, have fun with friends or just engage your kids, here are eight card games to play at the campsite.
But first—you need a deck. Basecamp Card Co. makes the most unique, adventure-friendly cards we’ve ever seen. With all the elements of a regular deck, the innovative creators from British Columbia added prompting questions to get to know your opponents—or camping buddies—even better.
You’ll want to pick up this deck before you start playing, as one of the games involves the questions. Blown through the 54 questions already? Don’t worry—they’ve released a second deck with 54 new things to wonder, ask and question.
Ready? Let’s play!
Basecamp Card Co.
Best with four or more players, Cheat (aka I Doubt It) shows how well you know your fellow campers by calling their bluff.
How to Play: First, decide if Ace will be low or high. Then, deal out all the cards. Player One (to the left of the dealer) puts down a chosen number of cards, face-down in the centre of the group, and announces what they are (for example, “two Jacks.”) However, the cards that they place down may or may not be what the player says they are. If someone decides to call their bluff, they yell, “cheat!”
The cards that were put down are then flipped over. If Player One was honest about their cards, the player who said “cheat” must take all the cards in the centre pile. If Player One was dishonest, then they must take back all the cards in the centre pile.
If no one calls out “cheat,” then it’s Player Two’s turn (the person sitting to the left of Player One). They must place at least one card that is either one higher or one lower than the previous card’s rank (for example, “three Queens.”) If Player Two doesn’t have a Queen or 10, they will be forced to lie. Once again, any of the players can call “cheat”—but they risk picking up the pile if Player Two was honest.
After the highest rank is played, the next card will be twos, then threes, etc. The game continues until one player gets rid of all their cards.
2. Go fish
Basecamp Card Co.
"Fish" for the cards you want in this two-to-six-player card game.
How to Play: Everyone is dealt seven cards, and the rest of the deck is placed face-down in the middle. Player One picks another player to ask for a specific card number, for example: “do you have any 3’s?” If the player who is asked (Player Two) does have that card, they must give it to Player One. Player One can then ask another player (Player Three) for a different number and continue to ask different players until they are told, “Go Fish.”
When this happens, Player One must draw from the centre pile. If they pick the card they were looking for, they can show the players and either draw again or ask another player for a card. If Player One doesn’t draw the requested card, the card goes into their hand, unseen by the other players. As soon as a player has four of a kind in their hand (called a Book), they place those cards face-up on the table.
The winner is the player that makes the most Books.
Basecamp Card Co.
This non-violent war requires only two players and a hunger to take it all.
How to Play: Deal the entire deck face-down between two players. At the same time, both players flip the top card of their own deck into the middle, to “face off.” The player with the higher card takes both cards and puts them on the bottom of their deck. In this game, Ace is high.
If both cards are of the same rank, it’s War. Each player now adds three more cards, face-down, to the “face off” (on top of their respective cards). Each player draws a fifth card that they place on top of the previous four cards, which is flipped face-up. Whoever has the highest rank breaks the tie and wins the war. The winner of this round takes all ten cards from the “face off.” The player who collects all 52 cards wins.
Grab three other friends and learn this classic four-player game. The objective is to make a Meld (matched set): either a Run (consecutive sequence of three or more cards of the same suit) or a Set (three or more cards of the same rank/number).
How to Play: Choose one player to be the Scorekeeper and one to be the Dealer. The Dealers deals each player 10 cards. The undealt cards are placed in the centre of the picnic table, face-down. This is called the Stock. The dealer flips the top card of the Stock face-up. This becomes the first card of the Discard Pile.
Player One, the person to the left of the dealer, can either pick up the known card on the top of the Discard Pile or the unknown card on the top of the Stock. If Player One can create (or add to) a Meld, this is the time to do it. Otherwise, they should discard one card, face-up, in the Discard Pile. The person to their left, Player Two, now has their turn.
The game is over when one player has only one card in their hand, and all their other cards have been made into Melds.
One doesn’t have to be the loneliest number when you have a deck of cards! The object of this game is to form four “foundations”—one for each suit—in order from Ace to King.
How to Play: Shuffle the deck. Holding the deck face-down in your hand, flip over one card. Place six face-down cards next to it in a row. Flip over a card and place it face-up on top of the second card. Make sure it’s a little lower, so you can see the back of the card beneath it.
The next (third) pile will get one more face-down card, and one face-up card. The fourth pile will get two face-down cards, and one face-up card. Continue laying out the cards so that the final row has six face-down cards, and one face-up card. Put the remaining cards in a pile and leave them off to the side as the reserve deck.
Looking at the cards that are face-up, move what you can so that the cards are in descending order, alternating red and black (at this point, suit doesn’t matter). If there are any Aces, put them above the seven rows, as they will serve as foundations. After you move a face-up card, flip the card beneath it over so it’s now face-up. If you run out of moves, take a card from the reserve deck. You win when you complete four foundations.
Basecamp Card Co.
A staple childhood favourite!
How to Play: To play Uno with a regular deck of cards, you’ll need to use the suits as you would colours, and assign meaning to the face cards. Jack can be “skip a turn,” Queen is “pick up two,” King allows you to “change the suit” and Ace is “change suit and pick up four.” If you’d like to use the Joker, you can ascribe another rule to it, such as “reverse direction.”
Regular Uno rules apply. Two or more players are dealt seven cards each. Excess cards are placed face-down in a pile in the middle. Player One puts flips a card from their hand face-up, for example an eight of hearts. Player Two can then put down an eight of another suit or a different number within the hearts suit. If Player Two cannot put a card down, they must draw from the middle pile.
When a player has only one card left, they must yell “Uno!” or be forced to pick up another card. The game is won by the player who discards all their cards.
7. Blurt Out Battle
Two to fifteen people can play this quick-thinking game that encourages you to yell out random words—before your opponent does.
How to Play: Player One starts holding the deck of cards face-down. They turn to the person on their left (Player Two). Player One flips the top card away from themselves. As soon as they see what the card is, Player One and Player Two will both try to shout out a word that begins with the same letter as the number displayed. Words cannot be numbers or proper nouns (including names). Whichever player yells a word first gets to keep the card and is handed the deck. They then turn to the next person in clockwise rotation to battle it out. Once a word has been “blurted out,” it cannot be used again. The game concludes when all the cards have been flipped. The winner is the player who has collected the most cards through the blurt out battles.
Example: Player One flips a seven. Player Two yells “sloth.” Player Two takes the deck from Player One, then turns to face Player Three (the next person to their left). Player Two flips a Jack. Player Two yells out “jellyfish.” Player Two keeps the deck, then moves on to battle the next person to Player Three’s left.
Note: If playing with two people, the battle simply goes back and forth.
8. Question Master
Basecamp Card Co.
The perfect way to get to know your fellow campers. Ask away!
How to Play: With two players, simply split the deck in half and ask each other the questions on the centre of Basecamp Cards. You can both answer every question, each answer either the red or black questions or take turns asking and answering. It’s up to you!
With three or more players, deal out the entire deck. Pick a player to begin. Player One asks any player a question in their hand. Once that player (Player Two) answers, they take the card and put it face-up in front of them. Then, Player Two asks anyone except Player One a question from their own deck. The game continues until every question has been asked and answered. If everyone has fun, everyone wins!
This article was sponsored by Basecamp Cards Co.