1. Giant Jenga
Photo from A Beautiful Mess
Why play tabletop Jenga indoors when you can play a more challenging version outside? Played at this scale, it's easier for everyone to gather around and interact, and the tower toppling is even more dramatic!
Just get some same-length 2 x 4 blocks (most home-improvement stores will cut the boards any length you want) and set them up on a steady, flat surface like a regular Jenga game. Paint the ends of the blocks in fun colors to give it a bright summertime look!
The rules of the game are simple: everyone goes around and takes a turn removing one of the blocks from the tower, until someone slips up and makes the tower fall! Store the game in a plastic storage bin to reuse in later activities. This one's a keeper!
2. Frisbee Tic Tac Toe
Photo from A Turle's Life for Me
Tic Tac Toe may seem like the simplest game in the world, but it becomes much more of a challenge when you play it with frisbees!
Buy a cheap tablecloth or shower curtain, and use cheap colored tape to make a Tic Tac Toe grid. You'll need about 10 Frisbees for this, so you can either buy them in two colors (to divide them between the two teams), or you can use Frisbees of various colors that have Xs and Os on them made with colored tape.
Have the teams stand behind a line and take turns trying to get their frisbees into rows of three! It's harder than you think!
For more Frisbee games, check out Frisbee Golf or Frisbee Dodgeball. Frisbees can be used for all sorts of competitions!
3. Human Foosball
Photo and instructions from Heather at howdoesshe.com
This game is just like tabletop foosball, but with real people!
You'll need PVC pipe, duct tape, a soccer ball, and at least ten people to play this. Start by duct taping your PVC pipe together to make several long poles (the length depends on the size of the area where you're playing, and the number of people you're playing with). Evenly place the poles across your playing area, and mark the poles' positions on either side with cones or tape (depending on the surface). Players holding onto that pole can't step outside of the marked area.
Designate a goal at either end of the playing area. Each team has a goalie who can use their hands, but everyone else must have at least one hand on their pole at all times. Set up the teams like a foosball table team (see this diagram for help), and go at it!
4. Water Balloon Pinata
Photo from Mandy Douglass
This is bound to result in general watery mayhem, so be prepared to get wet!
Take regular-sized round balloons and fill them with water. Tie the balloons to a thin rope strung between trees or poles, then let the youth use plastic baseball bats to try and bust them open. It's harder than you'd think, and the resulting splash is sure to get everyone soaked!
Pair this with a slip 'n slide, water balloon volleyball, or just a good old-fashioned water balloon fight for a very refreshing activity. For less clean-up afterwards, provide sponges for the youth to soak and throw at each other!
5. Spray Away
Photo from Planet of the Apels
Have youth test their marksmanship with this classic carnival game!
Drill holes in a 2x4 and set up golf tees along its length at regular intervals. Set up ping-pong balls on the tees, and have youth race to see who can hit them all off the fastest using squirt guns. Make multiple tee planks for team races, and make it more challenging by having them stand farther away!
6. Outdoor Movie Party
Photo from Prairie Hive
For those lazy summer evenings, set up a projector and movie screen in someone's backyard, have youth bring cushions and blankets to sit on, and enjoy an outdoor movie! If you really want to get fancy, you can set up a concession table on the side for popcorn and other snacks, and string up lights around the perimeter so youth can see where they're going.
7. Water Balloon Volleyball
Photo from Susan Evans
This game is simple to put together and is great for building teamwork!
Divide into two teams, and volley a water balloon over the net using only towels and blankets held between teammates. The team that lets the balloon fall to the ground or break loses a point! You will get wet!
This game can have a lot of variety. You can play with only one water balloon, or use two to make it extra challenging. You can have teammates pair up and hold a towel between them, or have the whole team use a single large blanket. Make sure to have lots of water baloons on hand, because it can get pretty crazy!
8. Football Practice
Photo from Spoonful (originally in FamilyFun Magazine)
Yet another carnival game that's fun for all ages and easy to make yourself!
Cut different-sized holes in a cheap tarp, line the holes with colorful duct tape, and mark each hole with a different point value. String the tarp up so that it's perpendicular to the ground, and have youth compete to see who can get the most points in 10 throws!
9. Slip 'n Slide
Photo from egotvonline.com
You're never too old to enjoy a good old-fashioned slip 'n slide. Lay plastic table cloths or tarps out on a lawn, cover them with dish soap or shaving cream, spray with water, and let the youth go crazy! Just make sure not to use a black tarp or it'll get really hot. And be aware that this can damage the grass.
10. Yard Twister
Photo from Just Us Girls
Again, why play indoors when you can play this classic game outside in the sun?
You'll need four colors of spray paint--red, yellow, green, and blue. Cut a large circle out of cardboard or an empty pizza box, and use it as a stencil to paint a Twister board right on your lawn! There should be four rows (one of each color) with six circles each. You can make it bigger for more people, but make sure each the circles aren't too far apart! It'll be tricky enough as it is!
11. Missionary Tag
Photo from Acteeva
There are so many variations of tag that your youth can enjoy, but Missionary Tag is a classic and involves more teamwork than other variations.
Everyone pairs up, standing side-by-side with arms linked (hopefully you have an even number of people). The pairs should be spread out. Choose one pair to start the game as It and the first person to be chased. As long as you're in a pair, you're safe from the person who's It. But when someone is being chased, they can link arms with someone in a pair, and the person on the other end is now the one running!
12. Noodle Wars
Photo from Heather Sitarzewski
This game is a personal favorite and never fails to entertain!
All you need is two pool noodles and two blindfolds. Have everyone stand in a circle (this works best if you have lots of people, but it's okay if you don't). Blindfold two people and put them in the middle of the "arena." Have someone spin them around while you place the pool noodles (quietly) on the ground in the arena.
When you tell them to go, the blindfolded competitors must find a pool noodle and hit their opponent before their opponent hits them. Players forming the circle should snap their fingers if one of the blindfolded players comes too close to the edge of the arena, but otherwise everyone should be as quiet as possible. This is hard to do--it can get pretty hilarious!
13. Pass the Pudding
This game is super messy, so have your youth dress appropriately! Divide your youth into pairs, and have them lay on their backs so that the tops of their heads touch and their feet point in opposite directions. Everyone gets a pudding cup and a spoon, but you can't eat your own--your partner has to feed you! This game is best played on the grass, because even with good communication and superb coordination, everyone's bound to get pudding all over the place!
14. Capture the Flag (With Marshmallows!)
Photo from Whimsy Love
Capture the Flag is a fun enough game on its own, but step it up a notch by adding marshmallow shooters to the mix!
You can have everyone make their own marshmallow shooter, or provide them yourself. To make one, just cut the bottom off of a plastic cup, and cut the top off of a balloon. Tie off the bottom of the balloon, then cover the bottom of the plastic cup with the balloon, securing it in place with strong tape. Now you have a first-class marshmallow shooter!
Play Capture the Flag as you normally would, but instead of tagging opponents to get them out, players must hit their opponents with marshmallows! Each player should start with a pocketfull of marshmallows, but if they run out of ammo, they'll have to recover some that have already been launched!
15. Water Gun Painting
Photo and instructions from Somewhat Simple
If you're looking for a summery, outdoor craft project, this one is great!
Find a few cheap water guns and fill them with a 50/50 mixture of water and Tempra paint. Set out a drop cloth to protect the lawn, and make sure it's okay for the surrounding area (and whatever's supporting your canvases) to get paint on it.
Prop up a canvas for each of your youth (you can find them fairly cheap at Hobby Lobby) and let them create something unique with squirt gun paint! You can provide painter's tape for the youth to make cool designs. Just make sure to let the paint dry completely before you remove the tape!
What other summer activities do your youth enjoy? Share in the comments!
Especially for Young Men leaders:
For more help on YM activities and planning, be sure to check out Trails to Testimony: Bringing Young Men to Christ Through Scouting by Bradley D. Harris.
More about the book:
Parents and youth leaders alike need to rediscover the spiritual dimensions of Scouting — to focus on the close relationship that should exist between Scouting and the Aaronic Priesthood.
The author’s 22-year professional career with the Boy Scouts of America, combined with extensive experience within the Church, gives him invaluable insights into bringing young men to Christ. Trails to Testimony is a powerful guide for families and leaders entrusted with the sacred responsibility of teaching and guiding the young men of the Church.
• • •
For more help on YW activities and planning, be sure to check out Bright Ideas for Young Women Leaders by Trina Boice.
More about the book:
Young Women leaders need the eloquence of a Gospel Doctrine teacher, the compassion of a Relief Society president, and the stamina of a Scoutmaster, all in one!
On top of that, you are also expected to come up with activity ideas each week. Thankfully, this book provides wonderful ideas on all aspects of the Young Women program, including:
Structuring Personal Progress, Implementing the Young Women values, Planning New Beginnings and Young Women in Excellence, Seasonal celebrations, Utilizing Internet resources, Plus over 20 other topics!