Summer camp is a treasured time of year many school children look forward to. It means time with friends in a less structured environment, with all the fun summer activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, and all those camp related activities.
It’s not just a great experience for the children who attend; summer camp for many is a way to make extra money, further their teaching experience, do something different with friends, and provide an experience they once had as a child. That is why it is important that the activities that staff can use with children are engaging, fun, and memorable. You want summer camp to stay special, and it won’t if you plan the same stale games each time. Here are some outdoor games that can translate to other educational settings, which have a fresh spin and will make any summer camper or staff member jump up and down all year for summer!
Think bean bag toss…but better! This activity is great for many reasons. First, kids love large games, and this target is 12 feet long. Second, it is challenging for children of all skill levels. Third, you can hang it on anything outside, from a ladder to a fence or even lay it on the ground and it works. Lastly, you can use any object like basketballs or yarn balls to play the game. Much like bean bag toss, the students try to get a ball through one of the three giant holes from a distance you decide. They get points and a title like All-Star, based on what hole they get it in. You can vary many aspects of the game like the distance and type of throw to mix it up, which makes this reusable many times over.
If you have not picked up on this yet, large sized outdoor games rock. This includes playing soccer, volleyball, and basketball with oversized inflatable soccer balls, beach balls, and volleyballs. But a no-fail classic that gets even better with supersizing is ring toss. With a large inflatable base and large inflatable rings, this not only helps kids have fun, but it makes them feel more confident. Regular ring toss is great, but it can be hard and turn children off. This certainly will not. It’s easy, fun, and can even be done in a swimming pool!
Beanbags & Rubber Animals
I know what you are thinking: beanbag animals are not a game! You’re right, but they make any game fresh and fun. Children of all ages love animals. This pack of beanbag frogs and beanbag animals work great for kids. I also use rubber chickens frequently in games, as a simple hot potato to more complex tossing and catching activities. The kids always love them. It turns an outdoor game into something fun and special. I even give the animals personalities and have them talk to the younger students like puppets. I guarantee any outdoor activity is made great with rubber or beanbag animals. Plus, they are so affordable; you can buy them in large quantities so everyone can have their own. They can also be used with parachutes!
We live in a world that is increasingly more and more in love with soccer. I love to use this as a teacher with a twist by having students play soccer golf. It’s like mini golf, but they’re using soccer balls and special holes and flags that the ball can rest in when they get it in the hole. You can pair children up, make large teams, or make multiple lines with one hole a fair distance away from the hole. You can use the same concept of golf with Frisbee golf too. This is a really fun outdoor game that anyone can do, and you can use in many ways to keep it going all summer long!
With these outdoor games and the many variations you can do with them, your campers will have a blast, and so will you and other staff. These games inject a level of fun and difference that will have everyone involved in the summer camp hoping it never ends.
About the Author:
Charles Silberman has worked as a counselor and camp PE teacher for over 25 years and is currently a PE teacher at an Elementary School. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff in-services and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. Charles has also created a niche as a physical education specialist who fuses technology and primary instructional subjects into physical education lessons.