25 Toys and Games For Past, Present, and Future River Runners, Campers, and Outdoor Enthusiasts

It is universally known that the best toys to inspire the imagination and promote a love of wilderness and wild places are a babbling stream, some rocks and sand, and a few stick boats.  Here is a list of the Best Toys and Games for River Runners, Campers, and Adventure Travelers not made by Nature.

#1 Foamie Friends

Foamie Friend on Havasu Creek in the Grand Canyon

Foamie Friend taking on Havasu Creek in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Foamie Friends are handmade toys.  They come in kayak and canoe models.  The toys date back into the 1970s, but have been improved upon over time.  James Locke took over from Foamie Fun owner George Robbins around 2013.  Locke is the first to use 6 pound mini cell foam, first to rubber dip boaters, first to use fiberglass rod, and first to use automotive urethane paint.  These works of art retail between $24 and $35.  There are a variety of boats to choose from these days including Premium Wood Kayaks and Canoes, Plastic Mini Spud Kayak and mini Creeker Kayak, and Plastic Spud Kayak and Creeker Kayak.  The hand made boats come in multiple colors and patterns, as well as kits to build your own “Foamie.”  These are one of the best toys to play with in side streams and creeks because they self right and they can do some mesmerizing moves in holes, waves, and eddylines.  Foamie Friends can be bought directly from James Locke at foamiefriends.com.

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#2 Action Man Mission Raft

Climbing Barbie Driving the Action Man Zodiac
Action Man with his Yellow Adventure Raft

In the 1960s and 1970s Action Man was a popular toy in Great Britain, similar to GI Joe in the United States.  The company that was making Action Man was eventually sold to Hasbro in the 1990s.  The theme of action man changed from military to more action and adventure.  The Action Man mission raft is one of the most realistic river runner toys ever made.  It is modeled after the Zodiac fc470 assault boat.  It came complete with a battery operated outboard motor that pivots, tilts, and can be removed from the raft.  The raft is also perfect for the Action Woman Barbie to execute all of her different outdoor adventures.  The Action Man raft can still be found in boxed condition around the internet.  It sells for $25-$50.

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#3 Tonka Coleman Camping Set #1920

 Tonka Coleman Camping Set #1930

Tonka and Coleman brought  this adventure set to the stores in 1982.  What more could an aspiring adventurer want?  A yellow Jeep complete with a canoe strapped on top,  a tent, sleeping bag, and adventure figure.  This set is extremely rare to find complete.  Individual pieces of the set can be found used on ebay for $5-$10.

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#4 The Adventure People-North Woods Trailblazer #312

 #312 Northwood Adventure Playset by Fisher Price

The Northwoods are calling to these Trailblazers.  These adventure people are ready for some time in the wilderness.  It is up to your imagination to figure out where this trip will go.  The set includes a canoes to explore the nearby stream.  Originally produced between 1977 and 1982, this set is hard to find.  It is selling on the internet  in used condition for close to $100.

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#5 Fisher Price Sportyak

 1974 Fisher Price Sportyak
 Sportyak Photo Courtesy of Bill Belknap and the Cline Library.

The Fisher Price Sportyak was actually called a barge when it was sold.  It came with a small tugboat that could attach to the white post.  In a river guides mind this is definitely a Sportyak.  It was produced in 1974.  This was about the same time Sportyaks reached their peak of popularity it the river guiding world.  Sportyaks were solid plastic and were used by river outfitters as a way for clients to row their own boat through the rapids.  The fisher price boat is also pure plastic and nearly unsinkable.  Another perfect creek toy for the past, present, or future river guide.  The boat sells on Ebay for between $10-$15.

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#6 The Adventure People Scuba Divers by Fisher Price

Fisher Price Zodiac
The Adventure People Scuba Divers Set Complete with a raft.

This set was produced by Fisher Price from 1976-1981.  It included two divers(Matt and Becky), two scuba tanks, and a yellow zodiac diving raft.  The raft was unsinkable….perfect for running the rapids of the nearby streams.  The set can be found in used condition on ebay for around $20.

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#7 Hyside Toy Raft

 Hyside Toy Raft

Talk about a life like raft.  The Hyside toy raft was available from the Hyside Booth at most trade shows and events that Hyside Inflatables attended.  The toys ended up in the hands of many river runners and has been a favorite for a long time.  Hyside Inflatables is still in business and their life size boats are often admired for their high quality Hypalon construction.

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#8 Stream Machine TL-750

 Stream Machine sprays water 70 feet

The Stream Machine TL-750 is probably  the ultimate river rafting accessory for water fights.  This TL-750 launches a steady stream of water 70 feet.  The water launcher features a 17 in. single barrel design that extends to 36 in. when refilled. Stream Machine Water Launchers are quick to reload by submerging the barrel into the river and pulling the handle back.  All Stream Machine Water Launchers are comprised of high polymers  that will not chip or peel. Stream Machines are designed to withstand years of fun, but sometimes the silt laden waters of the Green and Colorado River can jam the water guns.  Stream Machine website sells the TL-750, and is available in 4 different colors.

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#9 Kayaking Smurf

 The most famous Smurf in Whitewater Rafting.

The kayaking smurf figure from 1979 inspired many past river guides.  This particular smurf can be found throughout the internet as a centerpiece of images immersed in whitewater and braving rapids throughout the world.  The Kayaking Figurine sells on ebay for close to $50.

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#10 1974 Barbie High Sierra Adventure Set

Barbie Rafting Set
 Barbie was rafting in 1974!

The box says it all “Daytime is boat’ n hike time…Nighttime is Camp’n sleeptite time…And all the time is FUNTIME.”  Sounds like a river trip!  This Barbie set did not include a doll, but it did come with an orange raft, lantern, shovel, pots and pans, and a backpack.

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#11 It-Girl On-the-Go Beach Kayak

It Girl Kayak
 Girl On the Go Kayak

Is this a Dagger, Perception, or Jackson Kayak?  No it is an It-Girl Kayak.  It comes complete with a paddle, helmet, and spray skirt.  The set does not include a doll, but is designed for 12″ dolls(Barbie or similar).  The Kayak looks realistic and is molded in pink, yellow, blue, and purple.  The Kayak is available on the internet  through various retailers.

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#12 Lego 60202 City People Pack Outdoor Adventures

Lego City 60202
 This Lego set screams adventure!

This lego set inspires the imagination of outdoor enthusiasts.  The set comes complete with a mountain biker, skier, campers, and a RIVER RAFT!  The set was discontinued by Lego, but it can still be found on ebay.

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#13 Playmobil Whitewater Rafting Set

Playmobil Whitewater Rafting Set
 Two person “ducky” kayak to take on the rapids in the Playmobil universe.

This play set is made in Germany.  The set includes two figures with lifejackets, paddles, helmets, and a green two man ducky.  The Inflatable Kayak actually floats and the figures are posable making the set action packed.

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#14 Barbie Team Stacie Summer Camp Playset

Team Stacie Camp Set
 Team Stacie is ready for adventure. Bring on the rapids and night sky.

Young campers will have tons of fun with this Stacie Summer Camp Playset.  Send Stacie white water kayaking with her paddle and life vest.  Hike to exciting off river locations with her backpack, map, and compass.  Brush her teeth before bed and put her to sleep in her spacious tent with plenty of room for all of her sisters.  This set is available from retailers and on the internet.  The set sells for $29.99.

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#15 American Girl Jess’s Kayak and Gear

American Girl inflatable kayak
 Inflatable Kayak and gear from American Girl.

The orange inflatable kayak with a two bladed paddle was released in 2006 by American Girl.  The set included a stylish life jacket and a drawstring orange bag to store the kayak in when it wasn’t in use.   A new color scheme was introduced in 2009 before and the kayak and gear was retired in 2010.  The set can still be found on ebay.

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#16 Paper Boats

Paper Boat
 Paper Boat folded at Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.

Paper boats are fun, free to build , and actually float.  How long they float depends on the type of paper being used.  Here is a video explaining how to fold a paper boat.

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#17 Speedo Swim Goggles

goggles from speedo
 Speedo Swim Goggles can be used on clear rivers.

The best way to feel comfortable on a river is to be a competent swimmer.  Swimming comes with a lot of practice and goggles make that practice a lot more enjoyable.  Goggles can also be used on river trips where the water is clear to locate anything dropped in the river, or to check out fish in side stream plunge pools.

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#18 Bocce Ball Set

bocce set from smart craft
 Bocce Ball is a great game to play at a sandy river camp.

Bocce is a great game to play on a river trip.  Players can play traditional rules or change the game to cross country rules.  Cross country rules don’t require a court.  Instead the pallino(the white ball) is thrown anywhere on the beach.  There are usually 4 teams with two players each who take turns throwing their colored bocce balls as close to the pallino as possible.  After all the balls are thrown the team with the closest ball get 1 point, or if both of their bocce balls are closer than any of the other teams they get 2 points.  In addition, for each bocce ball touching the pallino, 2 more points are given.  The team that scores get to throw the pallino for the next round.  This turns bocce into a game similar to miniature golf with trick shots and paths around trees, boulders, and sand berms.  Play to 11, 15, or 21.

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#19 Kubb

kubb field or pitch
 Setting up the game of Kubb.

The object of the game Kubb is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing Batons at them.  The game takes place on a small rectangular field.  Rules vary slightly amongst different regions, but the overall goal of the game is to knock over all of the wooden blocks and then to knock over the King.  Games can last from minutes to hours.  A beach can make a great field for Kubb.  The game is nicknamed Viking Chess because of its alleged Viking origin.

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#20 Horseshoes

Horseshoes can be fun and competitive
 The elusive “double ringer” in horseshoes.

A staple of beach games and river trips for a number of years.  Horseshoes can be fun or competitive, one on one or teams.  It is played with four horseshoes and two stakes driven into the ground.

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#21 Self Righting Rubber Duck

Pop-Up sails duck
 The Pop-Up Sailor Duck

It used to be hard to find rubber ducks that were self righting.  If you threw one in the water, it would usually float on its side down the river.  You could fix this by glueing a weight to the bottom or adding magnets.  Now rubber ducks are very popular and a good portion of them that are self righting.  Rubber ducks are used in fundraiser races, at carnivals, and on thermometers for pools and spas.  The “Sailor Duck” is a marketed as a self righting river race duck.  The ducks sell in lots of 10 and cost about $2 per Rubber Duck from funcarnival.com.

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#22 Frisbee

 Frisbee is a brand of flying disc.

The frisbee has passed the test of time and is a timeless accessory for a day on the sand.  The airfoil shape of the disc allows it to generate lift and fly through the air.  Spinning the disc stabilizes it by applying a gyroscopic force, allowing it to be thrown for distance and accuracy.

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#23 Washers

washers game along the Colorado River
 Night Washer Game in the Grand Canyon

A game like horseshoes without all of the heavy equipment.  The games consists of eight washers and two cups per team.  The cups can be made of PVC pipe and the washers can be bought at a local hardware store.  The cups are spread apart 15 feet on a level beach and buried to the height of the sand on the beach.  Players alternate throwing the washers toward the opposite hole.  Three points for in the cup, two points for leaning over the edge, and one point for within a washer’s width of the cup.  Only one team scores per round.  Games are played to 15, win by two.  The game can be played in teams or by individuals.

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#24 Swovo Vintage Pop-Pop Steam Powered Boat

Swovo Pop Pop Boat
 A boat that is run by the heat of a candle.

This boat is steam powered and runs on the flame of a candle.  The steam chamber is primed by putting a little water in the tubes before adding heat.  The boiler contracts and expands with the boiling of the water.  The boat is pushed as one pipe sucks in water and the other blows it back out.  This boat can be found on Amazon and Ebay for under $10.

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#25 Whitewater Rafting Keychain

 Four different colors of Raft Keychains.

Everyone needs a keychain for something.  These bright colored rafts will remind you of the fun, excitement, and adventure of whitewater rafting.  These keychains are for sale on the Kingdom Etsy Store.

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Please make sure to comment below if we missed any items that should be included in this list.  

Looking to immerse your kids in Nature?  Try one of our Rafting Trips on the Green or Colorado Rivers.

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