Are you looking for fun and engaging ways to spend time outdoors with your friends, family, or colleagues? Do you want to boost teamwork, physical activity, or mental agility while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine? Look no further than outdoor games!
Playing games outside is a great way to bond with others, explore nature, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. Whether you’re a kid or a kid-at-heart, there’s an outdoor game that can suit your interests, abilities, and preferences.
With that in mind, below, we’ll share six fun and effective outdoor games that you can play with people of all ages and skill levels. We’ve selected games that span different categories, such as classic games, cooperative games, active games, nature-based games, water-based games, and mind and strategy games.
We’ll also explain the rules, benefits, and variations of each game, and provide tips for enhancing your gameplay and safety. So grab your sunscreen, water bottle, and game face, and let’s get playing!
1. Classic Outdoor Games
When you think of outdoor games, what comes to mind? Maybe you picture a group of kids running around a park, laughing and shouting as they chase each other. Or maybe you recall your own childhood memories of playing tag, red rover, kickball, or dodgeball with your friends.
Classic outdoor games like these have stood the test of time for good reason. They are simple, adaptable, and fun for all ages. They require minimal equipment and can be played in various settings, from a backyard to a beach to a gymnasium. And they promote physical activity, social skills, and healthy competition.
Let’s take a closer look at some classic outdoor games that you can play today:
- Tag: In tag, one person is “it” and tries to tag the other players by touching them with their hand. Once tagged, a player becomes “it” and the game continues. You can add variations like freeze tag, where tagged players must freeze in place until another player unfreezes them.
- Red Rover: In Red Rover, two teams stand in parallel lines, holding hands. One team calls out a player from the other team to run and try to break through their linked hands. If the runner succeeds, they can take one of the linked players to their own team. If the runner fails, they join the opposing team. The game continues until one team has all the players.
- Kickball: Kickball is similar to baseball, but with a large rubber ball and no gloves. One team kicks while the other team fields and tries to tag the runners out. You can add variations like homerun derby, where players try to hit the ball as far as possible.
- Dodgeball: In dodgeball, two teams try to eliminate each other by hitting players with soft foam balls. If a player is hit, they are out. If a player catches a ball thrown by the other team, the thrower is out. The game continues until one team has no players left.
These classic outdoor games are easy to learn and can be adapted to different group sizes, ages, and skill levels. You can also mix and match them to create your own outdoor game marathon. Just remember to stay safe and respectful, and to have fun!
2. Cooperative Outdoor Games
While classic outdoor games can be thrilling and competitive, they can also be exclusionary and individualistic. What if you want to play games that emphasize teamwork, communication, and collaboration, rather than winners and losers? That’s where cooperative outdoor games come in.
Cooperative games are those in which players work together toward a common goal or outcome, rather than against each other. These games can be especially useful for building trust, empathy, and problem-solving skills, as well as for promoting inclusivity and social justice.
Let’s explore some examples of cooperative outdoor games that you can try:
- Group Juggling: In group juggling, players stand in a circle and toss one or more balls or objects among themselves. The goal is to keep the objects in the air as long as possible, without dropping them. Players can use different techniques, such as passing the objects quickly, changing the direction of the toss, or using their feet or heads.
- Human Knot: In Human Knot, players stand in a circle and hold hands with two different people who are not next to them. The players then try to untangle themselves by twisting, turning, and stepping over and under each other’s arms. The goal is to form a circle again without breaking the chain.
- All Aboard: In All Aboard, players stand in a designated area, such as a small platform or a marked circle. The goal is to fit all players into the area without anyone touching the ground outside of it. Players can use different strategies, such as standing on each other’s shoulders, crawling under or over each other, or squeezing together tightly.
- Minefield: In Minefield, players are blindfolded and must navigate through a field of obstacles, such as cones or balls, without touching them. The other players give verbal directions to guide the blindfolded players, such as “step to your left” or “duck under the rope.”
These cooperative outdoor games require communication, trust, and cooperation among players. They can be especially useful for team-building activities, icebreakers, or leadership training. Just remember to emphasize safety and respect, and to celebrate everyone’s contributions and efforts.
3. Active Outdoor Games
If you’re looking for outdoor games that will get your heart pumping and your body moving, then active outdoor games are the way to go. These games are designed to be physically challenging, and they often involve running, jumping, or other forms of exercise.
They can be a great way to burn off energy, improve fitness, and have fun at the same time. Here are some examples of active outdoor games that you can try:
- Capture the Flag: In Capture the Flag, players are divided into two teams, each with their own flag. The goal is to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to your own base, while avoiding getting tagged by the other team’s players. The game requires strategy, speed, and teamwork.
- Frisbee Golf: Frisbee Golf, also known as disc golf, is a sport that combines the rules of golf with the use of frisbees. The objective is to throw the frisbee into a series of targets, such as baskets or posts, in as few throws as possible. The course can be set up in a park, field, or other outdoor areas.
- Ultimate Frisbee: Ultimate Frisbee is a team sport that involves throwing and catching a frisbee in an attempt to score points by catching the frisbee in the opposing team’s end zone. The game is played on a field, with two teams of seven players each. Ultimate Frisbee requires speed, agility, and teamwork.
- Red Light, Green Light: In Red Light, Green Light, one player is designated as the “traffic cop” and stands at the opposite end of a field or playground. The other players line up at the starting line. The traffic cop calls out “green light” to signal the players to run toward the other end of the field, and “red light” to signal them to stop. The first player to reach the traffic cop becomes the next traffic cop.
These active outdoor games can be a great way to get exercise, socialize with friends, and enjoy the great outdoors.
4. Nature-Based Outdoor Games
If you’re looking for outdoor games that will help you connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors, then nature-based outdoor games are the perfect choice. These games are designed to be played in natural settings, and they often involve exploring, observing, and learning about the environment.
Here are some examples of nature-based outdoor games that you can try:
- Scavenger Hunt: In a scavenger hunt, players are given a list of items to find in a natural setting, such as a park or forest. The items can be anything from natural objects, such as leaves or rocks, to man-made items, such as a piece of litter or a sign. The first player or team to find all the items on the list wins.
- Nature Bingo: Nature Bingo is a game that combines the traditional game of bingo with a scavenger hunt. Players are given bingo cards with pictures of natural objects, such as trees, flowers, and animals. They then explore the natural setting, looking for these objects. The first player to get a row of items on their bingo card wins.
- Outdoor Art: Outdoor Art is a game that involves creating art using natural materials. Players are given a set amount of time to collect natural objects, such as sticks, leaves, and flowers. They then use these objects to create a work of art, such as a sculpture or a painting.
- Nature Trivia: Nature Trivia is a game that tests players’ knowledge of the natural world. Players are asked questions about plants, animals, and other natural objects. The player with the most correct answers at the end of the game wins.
These nature-based outdoor games can be a great way to learn about the natural world, explore new environments, and have fun at the same time. Remember to respect the natural setting, leave no trace, and follow any rules or regulations that may be in place to protect the environment.
5. Water-Based Outdoor Games
When the weather is hot and sunny, there’s no better way to cool off and have some fun than with water-based outdoor games. Whether you’re at the beach, a pool, or a lake, there are plenty of games that you can play to keep cool and have a blast.
Here are some examples of water-based outdoor games that you can try:
- Marco Polo: In Marco Polo, one player is “it” and has to keep their eyes closed while calling out “Marco”. The other players respond with “Polo”. The player who is “it” has to use their hearing to try and find the other players, and tag them by touching them. Once a player is tagged, they become “it”.
- Water Balloon Toss: Water Balloon Toss is a simple game that only requires a few water balloons. Players pair up and stand facing each other, with a water balloon in between them. They then toss the balloon back and forth, taking a step back after each successful toss. The pair that can toss the balloon the furthest without it bursting wins.
- Water Volleyball: Water Volleyball is a classic game that can be played in a pool or at the beach. Players divide into two teams and use a beach ball or inflatable volleyball to try and score points by hitting the ball over the net and onto the other team’s side of the pool or court.
- Sharks and Minnows: In Sharks and Minnows, one player is the “shark” and the other players are the “minnows”. The “shark” stands in the middle of the pool or designated area, while the “minnows” try to swim past them without getting tagged. Once a “minnow” is tagged, they become a “shark” and join in the game.
These water-based outdoor games are a great way to cool off, have fun, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Related: 5 Outdoor Team-Building Exercises That Involve Physical Activity
6. Mind and Strategy Games
Not all outdoor games require physical prowess or athleticism. Sometimes, the most entertaining and challenging games are those that test your mental capacity and strategic thinking. Here are some examples of mind and strategy games that are perfect for outdoor settings:
- Capture the Flag: In Capture the Flag, two teams try to capture each other’s flags while defending their own. The game can be played in any open area with designated boundaries and obstacles that each team can use to their advantage. Teams must use their strategic thinking and planning skills to outmaneuver the opposing team and secure their victory.
- Scavenger Hunt: Scavenger Hunt is a game where players search for and collect items on a list. The items can be hidden in the surrounding area, and the list can include riddles or clues that players must solve to find the next item. This game can be played individually or in teams, and it encourages players to use their problem-solving skills and creativity.
- Outdoor Chess: If you’re a fan of classic board games, why not take it outside? Outdoor Chess involves using large, life-sized chess pieces on a designated chessboard. The game requires strategic thinking and planning to outmaneuver the opponent and checkmate their king.
- Pictionary: Pictionary is a classic drawing game that can be played outdoors using a large easel or chalkboard. Players take turns drawing a word or phrase while their team tries to guess what it is. This game encourages creativity and communication skills and can be adapted to any age group.
These mind and strategy games are a fun and challenging way to spend time outdoors with friends and family. They offer a mental workout and can be played in various outdoor settings, making them a great addition to any outdoor activity.