"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Great games for family camping: KanJam!

by Jim Bessey editor

 KanJam is fun for kids and adults alike, easy to set-up and learn -- the hit game of the summer!

two teens guard the KanJam goal
The KanJam disc is upper right corner, headed for a SCORE!

Once every decade or so, someone brings out a game with enough universal appeal to guarantee it will sweep the market. This summer, KanJam has won fans from campgrounds to parks and beaches to graduation parties. KanJam is a hit because it's inexpensive, easily portable, sets up in seconds, and appeals to a broad range of ages and skill-levels. Oh yeah, it's FUN, too -- that never hurts.

A quick history:

You know how kids tend to "invent" games with whatever is at hand. Kan-Jam is the result of two imaginative players named Charles Sciandra and Mitch Rubin plus one Frisbee and two trash cans. Imagine the fun they had whacking that plastic disc off a pair of metal trash bins set out as goals. "Hey, this would be a great party game!" they must have imagined. "But how could we market a game that needs two trash cans?" might have been the skeptical response.

The key to this game's success came with an "aha!" moment in which the inventor, Charles, realized that the "cans" could be made by using flat sheets of black plastic that lock together to form target cylinders. From that inspiration (and with some professional marketing assistance) the Buffalo, NY-area developers had a game that could fit in a box just one-foot-square and two feet tall, weighing not much more than a bag of sugar. By 2007 sales were already exceeding 10,000 units per year. (Source: Tonawanda News)

Who can play?

More action in the KanJam game
KanJam action continues - 3 points!
If you can throw a Frisbee ("flying disc," if you insist), you're in. We recently held a backyard tournament in which the players ranged in age from 15 to 80, and in skill-level from 'barely able' to 'very good.' We had a blast. The distance between Kan-Jam's goals can always be adjusted to suit the contestants' abilities.

How to play KanJam:

It takes about one minute to explain the rules to new players. You need an open area large enough to place the "kans" around 50 feet apart -- could be a quiet street, a backyard, or any grassy plot uncluttered by breakable objects. Here's how it sets up:
  • Four players. Two teams of two, with a member of each team behind each goal.
  • Player One sails the disc toward the opposite goal, where his/her partner stands ready.
  • Player Two (the partner) may "help" the disc hit or drop into the Kan for various points.
  • Next, Player Two tries to score by throwing the disc back toward his/her teammate.
  • Players Three and Four (the other team) repeat the sequence.
  • Play alternates between teams, until one team reaches 21 points.
  • "Sudden Death" may result if the opposing team is only one point behind at 21.
Scoring the disc tosses:
  • "Dinger" - the disc is redirected to strike the side of the goal. One Point.
  • "Deuce" - the throwing player's disc hits the Kan without assistance. Two Points
  • "Bucket" - the receiving partner slam-dunks the tossed disc directly into the Kan. Three Points.
  • "KanJam" - Instant Win is scored if the throwing player's disc goes through the slot and into the Kan.
  • Variation: Four Points for sailing the disc directly into the Kan, unassisted.
Variation for three players:

Sometimes we have trouble finding a willing fourth player, and we have to make do with just three. In that case, two players occupy one end as opponents. The third contestant covers the opposite goal, alone, and acts as a member of both teams. By playing a series of games and alternating which person is in-goal alone, this four-player game can still be fun for three.

Why KanJam is great for family camping:

We prefer games that aren't too expensive, are easy to pack-up and transport, aren't ruined by sudden downpours, and can be enjoyed by a wide variety of participants. KanJam wins on every point. It's fun and entertaining, even for spectators; and works well as a "tournament" game to keep the whole gang occupied for an afternoon. It's also one of those rare outdoor games you can play in the rain, important because it always rains when we're camping!

RATING: * * * * * (five stars) - Highly Recommended

KanJam is a trademark of KanJam, LLC and is available from retailers in all 50 states and Canada. Find it online at KanJam.com and other web-based sites. Price is approximately $40 plus tax.
If you've found a great camping game and would like to share your review, please let us know.


  1. Sounds like great fun! Thanks, Jim.

  2. We four 'boys' played this last Wed'sday evening. We started out with horseshoes, but we SUCK at that! So we switched to KanJam and had an absolute blast!

    Once again, my 81-yr-old Dad and my youngest son nearly beat the team of Austin and me! Yes, ALMOST. :-)

  3. Cool game! It does sound like a lot of fun! No wonder we like camping better! ":))