Best Affordable Outdoor Games and Activities for Summer 2021

Time to get the kids off tech and into the outdoors?  There are a lot of options that do not require a trip to the store or an online order. Some can be remembered as a favourite of your parents but still offer the fun factor for kids today. The main thing is to get kids outside and moving.

We know that outdoor play has a lot of benefits and plays a key role in neurological development. National 24-hour guidelinessuggest a mix of vigorous and light physical activity, proper sleep, and reduction of sedentary activity.  The benefits include better cognitive health, mental health, immune functions, social skill development and much more.

Let’s explore outdoor games and activities you can do with your family on a campout, in the backyard, at a local park, at the beach or at the pool. You will notice that some activities can be done in multiple locations.

At the Campsite

Setting up camp is an activity all by itself, but once the sleeping bags are in place, the kids are ready to do something fun.

  • If you are in a wooded campsite or beach, building a fort with sticks and branches is always a rewarding activity. After gathering (if allowed) the sticks and branches can be formed into a conical shape and become a fort for the day. Try using your Stick-Let'sand Tarp from Kit No. 4 Take Cover.
Stick Fort
  • Camping projectors are used inside the tent and projects wildlife images onto the walls. It can also be used as a night light when the young campers need a little assistance. Wearing headlamps and making animal shapes with your hands is also fun.
  • Grab your Wild Life kit gear and assemble the ultimate kit to collect flora and bugs. Include your field guides with paper and colored pencils to turn it into a fun learning session.
  • Capture the flag is great for all generations. Each of two teams hide their flag and then your team sets out to find the opposing flag without getting tagged by the opposing team members. Lots of competitive spirit and laughter.
  • Tug of war only requires a long rope, piece of ribbon and a way to divide the playing area.
  • Scavenger hunts can fill a lot of time for your little ones. Make a list of natural items to find around the camp, such as a squirrel, flower, round stone, etc.  You may be able to find some pre-printed sheets online. Maybe work in teams and include a compass to learn orienteering while they look. Anyone know which way is north?
Kids Compass Outdoor Skills Camping
  • Check geocaching.comto see if there are hidden objects in the camping area. Of course, you will need a GPS enabled device, which may be counter productive is you are going tech free.
  • Bring along a telescope (or even your binoculars from Kit No. 6!) to see across the lake during the day, and up at the stars at night.

In the Backyard

Most of your time will be spent in your own backyard or neighborhood, so having activities at the ready can save you when its time to go outside.  

  • How about simulating the ninja warrior series but at a child’s level? There are many types on the market to choose from and include things like spinning wheels, climbing ladders and ninja rings.  Basically, kids are hanging from various types of devices as they move along the hanging course. They need to concentrate on what is next in the series which aids in neurological development as well as building strength.  And it’s fun!
  • Bubbles are always a hit and can be refilled with dish soap on your kitchen sink. Smaller kids enjoy the smaller size wands while older kids enjoy the jumbo wands.
  • Cornhole has replaced horseshoes for backyard lawn games. Many are portable and can be taken on your next camping trip or just a trip to the local park.
  • Giant Jenga is fun for the whole family. Perfect for playing outdoors so you do not worry about the blocks falling on things inside the house.
  • Tic Tac Toe ROCKS! Gather 10 rocks and 4 sticks and make your own natural game board. We used our Trail Markers from Kit No. 3 to paint our rocks.

rock tic tac to natural outdoor games for kids

At a Local Park

Sometimes its fun just to pack a picnic lunch and hit a local park to get a change of scenery.  Many of the activities mentioned above travel well too.

  • Kites introduce kids to concepts, such as wind, and allows for greater observation of the world around them. Watch out for that tree!
  • Frisbee is still a favourite game for all ages – even your fur babies.
Optimal Kite Conditions

    At the Beach

    Some of us have some sort of beach near us whether it is attached to the ocean, a river, or a lake. If the gang gets tired of swimming, you can pull out some games to tide them over (pun intended).

    • Tidal Ball is a combination of cornhole and bocce ball. Just need six balls and a scoop to make the holes.
    • Light weight flying rings which work like frisbees but are less likely to injure someone if they get a direct hit. Plus, they float!
    • Volley ball is always a favourite on the beach.
    • Building sandcastles with or without molds.
    • Tossing a large beach ball – watch out for the wind!

    At the Pool

    How about keeping the young ones busy so you can lay still for a few?  Be prepared for lots of giggles and splashing.

    • Underwater obstacle course built from swimming rings that look like giant hula hoops.
    • Marco Polo is always a favourite.
    • Keep a large beach ball in the air and out of the water as long as you can while passing to each other.
    • Floatie races.
    • Pool basketball with a splash hoop and water ball.
    • Pool volley ball.
    • Ping pong scramble – sort of like an easter egg hunt with ping pong balls in the water.

    What activities did you and your friends do when you were younger?   Did you gather friends for a game of baseball in a nearby lot, or pull out the jump ropes and double-Dutch the day away? And let’s not forget playing in puddles during a rain shower.

    Add your own experiences to the list and never hear the words, “I’m bored” again.

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