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Camp-Inspired Backyard Games

FUN WAYS TO SPEND A SUMMER DAY

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Stay-put kids can have just as much fun as their camp-bound buddies. Here’s how.
CAMP-INSPIRED BACKYARD GAMES
Give your kids a camp experience without leaving home! Keep ‘em busy with these laugh-filled, strength-boosting outdoor activities for a summer they won’t forget!
1. Plastic-Egg Races

Camp inspiration: Old-Fashioned Spoon Races

Players: 2 or more

Best for ages: 4 to 6

Where to play: Cleared grassy area

What you need: A small plastic pail full of multicolored plastic eggs for each player

How to play: On a grassy surface with no obstructions, line kids up at the start/finish line, one behind another. Designate a halfway point at an appropriate location. One at a time, have each child walk, run, hobble, or hop as they carry their bucket of eggs midway point and back, retrieving any eggs that fall out.

Game is over when: All players cross the finish line with all eggs in their bucket. Everyone’s a winner.

Great for: Aerobic activity, large motor skills, coordination

Celebrate with: Frozen treats

2. T-Shirt Art

Camp inspiration: Tag, and Arts and Crafts

Players: 4 or more

Best for ages: 4 to 6

Where to play: Any outdoor space

What you need: Several large, sturdy, plastic spray bottles, each one filled with either red, blue, green, red, orange, or purple water (use food coloring to make the colored water); an oversized, prewashed white T-shirt for each kid; a hose to wash kids down; a change of clothes

How to play: Have kids slip into the oversized white T-shirts and then kick off a regular game of tag. Round 1: Let the kid who’s “it” chase and spray T-shirts with one bottle of water in whatever color she likes. She must spritz every T-shirt. Round 2: The game continues with another bottle and another kid who’s “it.”

The game is over when: All kids had a turn as “it “and all T-shirts are wildly colored

Great for: Physical activity and creativity

Celebrate with: Tutti-fruitti yogurt, sliced fruit, multicolored sprinkles, and a cherry on top

3. Glow-Stick Ring Toss

Camp inspiration: Horseshoes

Players: 2 or more

Best for ages: 2 to 6

Where to play: Backyard, front lawn, or anywhere you can find a grassy patch

What you need: One package of assorted, neon-colored glow sticks; two landscape stakes

How to play: Place stakes in the ground on a flat grassy surface, about 10 to 20 feet apart. Crack two glow sticks for each player, and use the connectors, or a piece of duct tape, to form rings. Have player 1 stand at one stake and toss his glow sticks toward the opposite stake, attempting to “ring” the stake. If the glow stick rings the stake, it’s called a ringer and that player receives three points; if the glow stick doesn’t ring the stake but is touching it, the player gets one point. Player 2 goes next. Game proceeds, alternating players on each team, until everyone has played.

Game is over when: Every child has played. Highest score wins. Organize innings to extend the game.

Great for: Hand-eye coordination and strategic thinking

Celebrate with: Colorful yogurt-and-fruit parfait

4. Water-Balloon Piñata!

Camp inspiration: Water-balloon toss

Players: 1 or more

Best for ages: 3 to 6

Where to play: A grassy surface, close to trees

What you need: Five or six large water-filled balloons, miniature plastic animals, characters or action figures, plastic baseball bats (or several long sticks)

How to play: Fill water balloons with water. To boost the fun, add tiny action toys inside the balloon as a surprise. Use string or colorful ribbons to suspend the balloons from low-hanging branches. Hand each child a plastic baseball bat or a long stick to hit the “piñata” and let ‘em have at it, one at a time. Supervise the action.

Game is over when: Kids break the balloons and find their prizes

Great for: Hand-eye coordination

Celebrate with: Tex-Mex snacks

5. Squirrel Tag

Camp inspiration: Big-kid tag

Players: 4 or more

Best for ages: 2 to 6

Where to play: A large yard with trees

What you need: Nothing

How to play: Round 1: One child is the squirrel catcher; everyone else is a squirrel. To start, players huddle in the center of the yard, the squirrel catcher is in the center. The squirrel catcher closes his eyes and counts to ten while the little squirrels scatter. The squirrel catcher opens his eyes, chases the squirrels, and tries to tag them before they reach a tree.

Game is over when: Round 1 ends when a squirrel is caught. In round 2, that player becomes the catcher. Game ends when fatigue sets in or all players have been catchers.

Great for: Strength, coordination, and strategic thinking

Celebrate with: Fruits and nuts